It’s a funny thing to have someone else talk about one’s own work. I’ve had a handful of reviews of my books of poetry over the years. I always end up feeling wildly impressed with whoever it was who wrote that work being reviewed…
and often surprised. Mostly because in the moment of making, I can’t say that I have a big picture of what I’m doing, no comprehensive thesis statement. If I’ve put a collection of poetry together that seems to have a theme, it’s only because my mind in the period of time of writing has circled around the same things. And those themes don’t seem to change very much.
A friend who put together a “new and selected” collection of his poems noted his abiding themes across forty plus years of writing. But I couldn’t at any particular moment even identify the theme of my questions particularly. I just wander around thinking stuff, reading, noticing, and at some point I write stuff down. Sometimes it’s directly related to that wandering, sometimes I think I’m remembering something else.
People have said to me about some event, oh, are you going to write a poem about this? And I have to say, if I do, it will be years from now. I almost never writing about something that I’m in the middle of. Even things I’ve noticed may not make it into a poem until long after that moment of noticing.
Anyway, all this is to say that when a reviewer looks at an entire collection and draws lines and connections, it’s often surprising, often gratifying, occasionally baffling. But of course once something you’ve written gets into someone else’s hands, it’s theirs. To make of what they will. Even if ultimately the response is “hunh??”
Here is a review of my recent book, Being Many Seeds, and I’m grateful for the reviewer’s attention to the work. http://Does anybody really know what time it is; or, On Being Reviewed