Rooted in traditions of confession and autobiography, I play with words & meaning, reveling in the neologistic madness of constructing a self. I follow the Transcendentalists' lead to get out of one's own way when I write -- divining & devising, reaching toward & pulling out images that together reveal new meanings and demands. Poetry is the marriage of empty and full -- a single word and the multiple meanings nested inside it.
My poems address questions about desire & body, travel & exile, place & time, family & self -- and the contradictions, failures, losses, and impossibilities therein. I love word mash-ups, made up language, and audacious metaphor to communicate the ineffable in life – to make appear that which is not yet – to breathe life into a dead thing, resurrect the obscure, hidden, and too-large beauty of our time. I stitch, sew, and fabricate books as its own kind of poem. I also conduct public poetics projects that encourage communication and exchange. Letterpress is the ultimate expression of love for the power of words – the practice of pressing letters into fiber until our desire to communicate is so palpable that we can't help but embody the message – and mean it.
I'm moved by poets Pablo Neruda, Roberto Juarroz, Octavio Paz as well as contemporary American poets such as Sharon Olds, William Stafford, Diane Seuss, Mark Strand, Claudia Rankine and John Duvernoy. Harryette Mullen sent me running toward Oulipo, Dadaists, and a long, layered history of writing with constraints. And I couldn't live without knowing the work of Langston Hughes, Emily Dickinson, William Carlos Williams, T.S. Eliot, Gregory Orr, Sylvia Plath, Gwendolyn Brooks, Richard Wright and of course, Walt Whitman, whose lines that last the length of a breath equal infinite love for life.
Current interests include contemporary poetry and poetics in East & Horn of Africa. I am also interested in long-form journalism, citizen media, creative expression, and the role of artists as change agents. I like living in that space where poetry & people meet.
Everything is fleeing toward its presence. -- Robero Juarroz
All language is predicated on loss -- Ted Aoki