It was what I’d been waiting for almost forever, when the letters
danced together to make sounds, the sounds I heard in my head, or
anyone’s. When I first realized I was doing it I thought I was
cheating, borrowing the “ook” from “book” to make “took” and
“look,” like copying someone else’s tree in my drawing instead of
making up my own: central pillar, three branches, a pillowy
crown, five apples. Shouldn’t each word have its own special, its
own personal letters? But there could never be enough letters,
enough angles and curves and loopy loops, to make all the words I
knew and those I didn’t know yet but would. And so I learned the
economy of language, to borrow and copy and make do, remaking
meaning. Someone else’s tree in my drawing, curly smoke from the
chimney, two windows, tulips all around. “Look” what I “took”
from the “book!”

Questions and Answers

What inspired “Reading”?

I can’t remember.

What poetic techniques did you use in “Reading”?

It’s a prose poem, which means it dispenses with the white spaces between lines that make poetry slow down and give emphasis to certain syntactical units and instead relies on ordinary devices, primarily punctuation but also sentence structure, to control the pace. But I still use a lot of “poetic” devices, primarily repetition and rhyme, to give it the density we associate with the lyric.

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