Hi Sally. Thank you for agreeing to an interview.
Thanks for giving me a chance to talk about poetry.
Richer Resources: How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing as long as I could hold a pencil. My first story,
which my mother saved for years, was a first-grade saga called “The Woof
King’s Revenge.” That’s “wolf” in 6-year-old spelling.
Richer Resources: When did you know poetry was one of your
I guess I’ve always found poetry a comfortable niche. Even my short
stories are so short they could probably be edited down to prose poems.
Or even anecdotes.
Recently, I heard an
interview with a dyslexic poet, who said he finds writing difficult and
chose poetry because he wants to tell stories succinctly. That same urge
for brevity makes sense to me, though I came to it by spending four
decades editing magazines and books. The first task of the editor is to
cut away the excess verbiage and shape the message with spare, strong
Was there a poet or poem
which particularly spoke to you early on and impelled you in this
My mother, who was also a writer, used to recite “The Highwayman,” by
Alfred Noyes, to my sister and me when we were little. I can still
remember those first lines: “The wind was a torrent of darkness among
the gusty trees, / The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy
seas …” That poem was my first inkling that words have power – the power
to tell a story, to paint a picture, to make music, to make you think.
Then, in high school, when
young men I knew were going off to Vietnam, I was haunted by Randall
Jarrell’s “The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner,” with its stunning last
line, “When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose.” Those
words still stop me in my tracks.
Poetry has been around for a long time. What do you feel is the
secret to its lasting appeal?
The urge to communicate, to connect, goes back long before written
language – I’d bet that the early humans who left pictures in the caves
in Lascaux sang of their deeds and their dreams around the fire.
Poetry’s appeal lies as much in its sound as its meaning, as much in
what it evokes as what it says. But the real power of poetry is its
universality – all cultures have some sort of poetry, from the classical
Greek odes to today’s rap music. And the wonder is, anyone can write a
poem. Try it.
Richer Resources: Thank you for your interview and
congratulations on the publication of your book.