“I have known in my life a number of young poets with immense talent who gave up poetry even after being told they were geniuses. No one ever made that mistake with me, and yet I kept going.” –Charles Simic, “Why I Write Poetry” (2012).
No one ever made that mistake with me, either; and, like Simic (though less illustriously, and less successfully) I keep at it. Lately I have been thinking that perhaps it’s for the same reason that, when I was a teenager, I kept sketching self-portraits. I was practicing observation and trying to capture something: a kind of self-reflection that is not entirely in the mind but can be shared–if done skillfully and with intention. And at the end of the task, there was an object. The picture. The poem.