What inspires you as a poet?

It’s my honor to have been invited to serve as Poetry Editor for Literary Life, an online journal that seeks “truth at the intersection of the arts and faith through a discussion of ancient and contemporary literature.”  Yeah, that’s my jam.

Today’s contribution to this publication is an exploration of the question, “What inspires you as a poet?” – most recently asked by Tom Darin Liskey, Features Editor for Literary Life. My response, in part, follows.


This question – “What inspires you as a poet?” – comes in a number of forms fairly regularly, at least monthly. There are a number of interpretations of the question, and for each interpretation, there are multiple answers. Here are the main ones:

What fills your spirit, quickens your blood, or causes you to sigh in recognition or gasp upon viewing, reading, hearing, etc.?

Many things. So many things. A half-rainbow over the highway, black clouds in the background. Rachmaninoff’s Vespers or Barber’s Adagio for Strings.  Trader Joe’s dark chocolate peanut butter cups.

Not that long ago Frank Gaspar’s marvelous collection, Late Rapturous, drew me in like a fish. And then I got to this poem about a fish (sort of) – “When You Saw the Lightning” – and several lines in, I’m nodding to myself, and my heart’s beating, and I read:

I don’t / know why you would even listen to anything in a poem / except that it might stop you for a moment, it might / make you lift your head and look around in just that / lonely hour of the day or night when the world isn’t / quite enough.

My mind and spirit leapt and cried, “Yes!”


Read the rest of this piece at Literary Life.

Photo by Drew Farwell on Unsplash


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