What inspires you?
I’ve never really understood my work in terms of inspiration. I think when people ask
What Inspires You, they maybe assume that a source of a poem is its subject. I see a fire
hydrant, therefore I write a poem about the redness of the fire hydrant because it inspires me.
But usually, I find that if there is a fire hydrant in my poem, it’s kind of a game I’m playing
with myself and is not really some kind of talisman that preexists the poem which I draw
upon for inspiration or origin. I like to answer the question in terms of where do poems
come from, which I feel is the heart of that questions, and I think I can speak to that.
A lot of the poets I really care about have a very hard time saying where their poetry comes
from. Jack Spicer, for instance, says that poetry is dictation from Martians. I think that what
he is really saying is that the question doesn’t help me in my writing. I just open myself up to
some kind of other essence. It’s hard to say what you open yourself up to at the moment you
start writing, but there does need to be some kind of opening.
Elizabeth Whitehead Eric Ekstrand
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