I write poetry as a mode of inquiry, of response, of sounding out, of feeling out, of thinking through, of joining in; I write poetry to communicate and not to communicate—for as D.W. Winnicott wrote, “it is joy to be hidden but disaster not to be found.” I write poetry because “I have wasted my life” (James Wright). I write poetry because, as Mahmoud Darwish said, as Valéry said, a rhythm seizes me. I write poetry and write about poetry to transmit this seizure to you. I write poetry because I mainly don’t write music and definitely don’t write philosophy; I write poetry because others wrote poetry. I write about poetry because I write poetry. I write poetry because it’s useless. I write poetry to remember I am alive, that we are alive, and to feel the air around us: “My purpose here is to advance into/ the sense of the weather” (Lisa Robertson). I write poetry “since/ our knowledge is historical, flowing, and flown” (Elizabeth Bishop). I write poetry because my friends dead and alive wrote poetry and because, as Wordsworth wrote, “The immortal Mind craves objects that endure.” Whether any poem I have written will endure, whether any of the contemporary poets whose work I admire will endure, whether any traces or hopes of any of us will long endure, only futures beyond our knowing will know. For now, following Emily Dickinson, let’s “sing to use the Waiting.”
Maureen N. McLane is the author of World Enough: poems (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010) and Same Life: poems (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008). Her book of experimental prose, My Poets, is forthcoming from FSG in June.