I am thrilled to see three poems from my prose poem sequence up at Kenyon Review Online. This sequence has really taken shape, and I plan to do some revision to it through the summer and submit it as a chapbook later this year.
Tonight, seeing these poems, I am thinking about a geneticist and racehorse trainer who entrusted me with his prize filly at a time when I didn’t deserve any trust at all. I was a mess—could hardly figure out who I was or wanted to be—-and the last racehorse I’d handled had spooked & escaped from me after cracking several of my ribs. I knew when John tossed me his filly’s lead shank that I wasn’t worthy of the task. I didn’t really trust myself. But I trusted him and his faith in me, and I’m still pleased to report that I returned his filly unharmed.
I’ve been fortunate to have an astonishing number of lovely and supportive people in my life over the years, and I’m grateful for all of them. But I think about John and his filly a lot.
At the end of that summer, after watching me follow the paths I thought I wanted, he told me to quit kidding myself, to trade out my comparative anatomy class for some English courses, and to go become a writer. I didn’t drop comparative anatomy (and it is still one of the hardest but most enjoyable classes I took in college, despite the many hours I spent in the lab doing dissections), but I did enroll in my first college English class—American Women Poets—and that changed pretty much everything.
I can’t say I’ve never faltered in this choice—there have been times when I’ve wavered in my commitment to writing, when I’ve dabbled with other lives or other pursuits—but I can say this: none of the work I’ve done in the last fifteen years would have been produced without that moment at the track with John.
Though I’m sure there were others, I remember reading two specific books that summer: Virginia Woolf’s THE VOYAGE OUT and a textbook on immunology. I never dreamed this is where I’d end up—-with a poetic sequence about medical history—-but it makes perfect sense. You might even say it’s where I was headed the whole time.