Can you discuss the meaning of the title?
Flinch is something you’d say about a horse shying or “flinching” away from something scary. The opening of the poem about a horse stepping into a wasps’ nest, is based on fact, a horse I had that only ever seemed panicked when a bee got too close. It’s also a pretty sadistic game played on school yards, maybe was played, if you flinch you get punched. The thread running through the piece was how one learns not to flinch, or survive when one needs too.
You're on a deserted island with only one poem. Which one is it and why?
I want something I can read over and over, something I can use as a physical barrier against the sun, or maybe something to make a raft from…I want Yusef Komunyakaa’s The Autobiography of My Alter Ego.This is a poem that makes me stop every time I open it. Its language, the images, the surprising allusions, I do read it over and over; it is a long poem, layered, haunting.
Who has been influential in your development as a poet?
You may have heard the name before, Bette Lynch Husted, she was a high school teacher of mine, and she suggested poets, but more important, she read and listened to those early poems. She gave me Gary Snyder, Ginsberg, her husband, Dean, lent me his Bob Dylan records. They were generous and patient and kind. They listened; they still do.
Where do you find your inspiration?
The world, the whole damn world!
What have you learned about the craft of writing poetry?
The poems write for yourself should stay in your journal, but feel free to steal the lines or language or images for other poems.
Would you rather have the power of invisibility or the power of flight. Why?
Invisibility, I’m basically a noisy person, I like to listen in on conversations, I enjoy watching people as they interact with each other, it would just makes it less awkward for everyone is they couldn’t see me.