was reading a lot.
Well, I remember the first time I really realized what language was capable of
doing, and it wasn’t reading poetry, it was reading Faulkner. Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass.
Actually, that’s when I first realized was poetry really is. I like a lot of writers who focus on
the sound and musicality of language, like CD Wright.
Did you come into school knowing what
you wanted to major in?
No. I was pre-med, pre-law, history, philosophy, and then, finally, English. And then
Creative Writing. I come from a medical family, so I just assumed that’s what I had to be, and
then I took chemistry and it was really bad.
I started as a Chemistry major. I switched to biology with a double major in
music, and finally I graduated with a psychology major, and I thought I was going to go into
social work or counseling.
How did you get started writing poetry?
I didn’t start writing until I was 21 or 22. I always loved creative writing classes
and exercises, but I never really wrote on my own until maybe my sophomore year of col-
lege. When I was young, I lived in Japan for many years with my parents. That’s when I really
started to become aware of the musicality of language. I was surrounded by a language I
didn’t understand, had no knowledge of, but whose music I could hear every day.
I didn’t travel abroad again until my sophomore year of college, and something about being
surrounded again by a language I didn’t know and how different everything was, I just started
writing scenes and things that were really striking me. That’s when I started writing poems. I
wasn’t an English major, I didn’t take poetry classes at all. The first poetry class I took was in
the summer after I graduated, I took a two week intensive poetry course. The next semester, I
audited two courses.