Poets feel deeply, oftentimes too deeply. Sometimes they’re overwhelmed by their feelings.
Poets are incurable Romantics. They love Love. They’re always on a quest to find Love.
Poets are human, deeply human, as human as can be, with all the human frailties.
I met the poet Rachel Wetzsteon through my work with PEN America’s Prison Writing Program (PWP). We both sat on the PWP Poetry Sub-Committee, which judges PEN’s annual Prison Writing Awards, poetry being one of the categories.
It was Rachel who encouraged me to flirt with forms: sonnets, villanelles, and pantoums – oh my!
I quickly took to the pantoum, a Malay form, perfect for elegies. My next and completed book of poetry, The Black Blood of Poetry, the title poem, which I’m shopping around, is anchored by a pantoum.
Rachel died at 42.
Found dead at her home in Manhattan.
Methinks it was the heaviness of life,
Of love lost that’s been labored over.
Clear-eyed with a mordant wit
Couldn’t protect her from depression.
Love is a heavy thing.
It weighs some down,
Like an anchor around an ankle,
Dragging one to the depths.
(Nov. 1967 – Dec. 2009)