Three years ago, I began writing poems from scroll paintings and woodblock prints from Japan's Edo period (1603-1868). I loved looking at these artworks, the expert technique in service of images that seemed to me so pure, precise, and elegant. I set a few challenges for myself in writing them: no I— I was tired of I in my own work—but a sense of confession and intimacy through other means, restrained in description and sculptural on the page. "Maples," without a speaking I, says so much more about my thoughts on privacy than I've ever revealed in a poem. The same for "Bamboo and Poppies" on love, "Tiger and Dragon" on power and beauty, and so on. The artworks have been Rorschach tests for me, each a little mirror. I'm grateful for their pleasurable instruction.
(appeared in Iron Horse Literary Review, 2014)