Poetry

For a long time I considered myself to be primarily a fiction (and at that, a science fiction) writer. I dabbled in poetry, but it wasn't until 1997 that I began to get serious.

In 1997 I was living in Baton Rouge, teaching at Louisiana State University, and I didn't have many friends and certainly didn't know many writers. My initial forays over to the department of English had proved disastrous.

But I heard about open-mike poetry "slams" at M's Fine and Mellow Cafe on Third Street in downtown Baton Rouge. Somewhat desparate, I went. Some of the poetry was awful; but some of it was incredible. So I worked up the courage to bring one of my own poems the next time.

I placed in that slam, went on to the "grand slam" a few weeks later, and took second place (winning $25 in the process), which was quite heady. More important, Shannon Marquez Maguire, a local poet and a member of the LSU Department of English, invited me to join the weekly poetry group she was a member of.

While some of the poems here are from the slams (and a couple predate them), most of them were written for the Backroom Poets. I learned an enormous amount from Shannon, Roger Kees, Becky Larkin, and the rest. They were simultaneously open to very wide variety of styles and approaches to poetry, but simultaneously were very demanding of craftsmanship.

In spring of 2001 I took a poetry writing class from Sue Owne, poet-in-residence at LSU. Her methodology is very different from the Backroom Poets, but she also demanded that we take poetry seriously, and my own work blossomed further.

Even though I often favor the confessional mode (in Sue Owen's class, we wrote poems strictly in the autobiographical mode), the reader is cautioned not to overly interpret these poems as "really" autobiographical. A lot of it is just made up.

But enough of the ramblings. Choose a poem from the menu on your right!