Recently, as part of the submission process for a print journal based in California, the editors ask writers to submit a non-traditional biographical paragraph— they request for the poets to detail why they love poetry.
Frankly I was taken aback: from an early age I have always felt the instinctive need to write verse. I never questioned the desire; I always followed where the voices led me. And now, someone point-blank asks me to define the un-definable.
Fortunately, after the panic subsided, I remembered back in 1994 another journal proposed a similar approach. In part, the following emerges as my informal manifesto. This is my reply:
From earliest memories on, poetry persists, sounding out syllables in my head. I experience days where the creative urge murmurs frequently. It remains with me as a small blue dragon coiled among my organs, one of his hands poised, making the sign for water, the second arm gesturing, as if reaching out for an unseen pomegranate. A third tucks a violin against his belly, while the last raises a bow mid-air. At night as I sleep he whispers images in my head, the myths of past dreams, the lost and wandering nightmares of children. Sometimes, in the early morning hours, I can catch him strumming softly on his little violin, playing out a new melody of his own making. Pushing me to get it down on paper.