I write poetry to hold my place.

This is interesting wording isn’t it? It’s not a desire to hold still but rather to maintain my voice in the dialogue of what it means to be human.

This idea of holding comes from fishing and the constant struggle to claim my identity beyond what was assigned to me: the cook, the blonde, the nurse, the listener, the only woman crabbing at the mouth of the Columbia River in January, the woman who wouldn’t keep her mouth shut. In fact, I’m the woman who worked hard for a living and expected to have my voice heard and respected in that world. I was often hushed.

In poetry, I found my voice. I could say what no one would listen to when discussing politics around the galley table. As a poet, I’m not limited by my audience: I write my experience, I write my truth.

I write poetry to understand.

My poems arrive as images; clear, detailed images with the flavor of strong coffee, the irritating drip of a faucet, the tilt of my mom’s head when she reads in the car. They arrive with the promise of frogs singing in February. It’s my responsibility to greet these images as an agent of poetic craft. I apply my tools and images become poems. I put them in the form their content dictates; sometimes they demand a new speaker, a new verb tense, the parameters of a sonnet, the seduction of slant rhyme. I listen as they take on a life of their own. I tell my ego to stand aside and let the poems do their work. I let them surprise me.

Where they go? I can’t control that. They are my teachers. When they become my teachers, I am doing my job.

I write poetry to imagine what’s possible. I write poetry to create the future.

Poetry is not limited to witnessing, observing, translating, illuminating what is. It is also a venue for imagining what can be. I once wanted a boat of my own, the stoutest steel boat the ocean had ever met. That’s where the poem started and then I became the boat. The poem taught me that what I knew from my life on the ocean had somewhere else, somewhere surprisingly larger, for me to go.

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