Because we know a whale is a mammal and not a fish is no reason to assume that Herman Melville knew it was funny to define a whale as “a spouting fish with a horizontal tail”—as he does in Moby Dick. However, when I read my own work to you you may easily assume that I mean what I say. If I say I am a lion about to eat you up, if I say I’m as nervous as a radio antenna which vibrates electromagnetic messages to you, if I say you are a limb of an octopus and I am its transparent eyeball, then I mean what I say. Although I believe that poems should be able to stand on their own, by appearing before you to read them, I must allow that they stand also with me. A poem alone is an experience (which might be entertaining) and a communication (which might be educational), but a poem read by its poet is also an expression of personality, which is the sum of matter (or body) and style (or how I move it). This is, therefore, how I look and how I stand.
8 March 1983