One of the nagging problems with this site has been its lack of focus. Perhaps all those years of teaching high school composition and trying to get students to write with some resemblance of unity makes this lack of unity in my own work troublesome. Still, I've realized for quite awhile that I'm attempting to do at least two major things in this blog, promote poetry and seek personal enlightenment.
Having taught for thirty years, it seems impossible to totally divorce myself from that role. You can take the teacher out of the classroom, but you can't take the classroom out of the teacher. Adding to the problem, being linked to by other poets or by college poetry teachers has fed my ego. For instance, I was pleased when a college professor suggested her college students use my interpretation of Roethke's "In a Dark Time" as a starting point for their own ideas on the poem. I was even more pleased when The Academy of American Poets pointed towards my appreciation of another poet. Being linked to has become it's own form of addiction. But I'm actually most delighted when someone writes that I've helped them to rediscover their love of poetry, especially if it is someone who studied poetry in college and then let it drop by the wayside.
There's no doubt that on one level this is a "poetry blog." I know it, I promote that idea, and, sometimes, I even take a false pride in it. So I exit the classroom, right, still talking to myself, still pretending to address a class full of inspired students who've long since exited the room, left. Self-delusion sometimes seems the best way to keep us from losing all respect for ourselves.
On another, more important level, or, at least I like to think so, this blog is an attempt to attain personal enlightenment, and poetry, indeed literature itself, is nothing more than a tool to help attain that level of insight. Hopefully no one really thinks there is any logic to the way poets are discussed on these pages, unless there is some form of serendipity going on that I'm unaware of. When I actually take the time to look back at what I've written, generously, I would like to think that there is some sort of spiral order, where I circle back to re-examine what I looked at many years ago, only to rediscover old truths can be reawakened with new insights. As I explained once, though, the books have nearly chosen themselves since the older ones all come from books I bought while attending college but never had time to finish. Most of the newer ones are the result of browsing whatever bookstore I wandered around in while Leslie picked up a stack of mystery novels. Those that show any continuity are probably the result of Mike's recent suggestions.
This understanding of self, of course, was the source of my original love for poetry and has probably been the driving force in my life. As I get older, it has become more, not less, important. A problem with this, of course, is that thinking about life is only one dimension of life. Too much thinking, too much time spend considering other's ideas, detracts from time that should be spent in other ways. I haven't spent enough time in the woodshop or the garden. I spend more time at the computer than I spend walking, and certainly more time than I spend doing my yoga. Meditation, per se, has virtually disappeared from my life, replaced by the contemplation of poetry, though I suspect that both would prove complimentary given the opportunity.
At times I certainly lose sight that this, and not the promotion of poetry, is the main goal of this site. I end up analyzing someone's poetry rather than relating it to myself and helping me to see my world more clearly. The truth is that I retired early because I was tired of teaching, because it had become a burden rather than a source of joy. Instead of making my life more meaningful, it sucked the essence out of it and made me tire of the very things that had led me there in the first place. If you share too much of yourself without replenishing your energy, you find yourself with nothing left to share with others. If I find this site becoming the same kind of burden, then it will be time to move on, to leave it behind.