Submitted Date 02/19/2019


-- This is the introduction to my autobiographical series of poems that I posted here at WriteSpike. Go to my stories section for a full listing. They are in chronological order. --

About My Auto-Biographical Poems

The man who writes about himself and his own time
is the only man who writes about all people and all time.

~ George Bernard Shaw ~

Know Thyself
Inscribed at the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, Greece

The past isn't dead. It isn't even past.
~ William Faulkner ~

To be a poet is a condition rather than a profession.
~ Robert Graves ~

It is my ambition to say in ten sentences what others say in a whole book.
~ Friedrich Nietzsche ~

About six weeks before my scheduled hip replacement operation, I wrote a full first draft of an autobiography in prose, based on notes that I had been taking for the past year. There's nothing like a major operation to make you aware of your mortality. :)

But immediately after the operation, I started hearing poetry in my head - in fact, in the recovery room one hour later. Then out of the blue, I saw an article about Peter Makuck's poetry. His collected poems, Long Lens, is essentially an autobiography but not in chronological order. His work is precise and yet easy to read - to me a modern day Wordsworth. After finishing his book, I began to hear my own autobiography as poems, and these works came quickly because I, in a sense, had already done the groundwork with my prose first draft. Over the next five weeks while I was in rehab at Snug Harbor Post Operative Care in Sea Level, North Carolina - with not much else to do - I was able to enter the 'zone' where poetry seemed to spring naturally in my mind.

I often hear words in my head - and when I hear these almost audible sounds (a muse?, another voice?), I have learned to pay close attention. Most of the time what I hear is heightened clear prose but sometimes I hear poetry - and when I do, the work that results is poetry.

Poetry is very personal to me. Some people think of it as a separate art form - and because of that, it is often seen as academic or difficult. Yet to me it is quite different. Poetry is a voice, a way of speaking, perhaps an ancient or forgotten way, more like song - hence the term lyric poetry. To me, it is simply just another way of writing - but one which certain ideas demand, just as other ideas demand prose or the essay form. Unlike any other form, for example, poetry has the ability to move in and out of time - to speak of the moment and the infinite in one breath. Poetry demands images and transcendental thoughts combined with dense wording and tight control - so every word, comma, space is exactly where it should be.

The stories in these poems that follow are true. They are all based on real events at specific times in my life and presented in chronological order. Over ten were written during the last fifteen years - the others were written primarily while I was in rehab in 2010.
Why write an autobiography?

I had begun to think of an autobiography because I had just finished my book Experimental Digital Photography (Lark Books/Sterling Publishing, New York/London, 2010). With its completion, I had achieved a life long goal. Since childhood I had wanted to discover and explore new modes of expression, to develop my art around those discoveries and then to write a definitive book. Now having accomplished that, I decided to look back at the path my life had taken. I wanted to understand the twists and turns that had enabled me to arrive at my desired destination which for decades had appeared impossible.

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