Despite its brevity, Beneath Stretching Pines was about three years in the making before I decided to publish it. Most of these poems, of which there are 30 in total, were composed while I was in graduate school, and they are, therefore, indebted to many of the poets that I was reading and writing about during that time—Williams Carlos Williams in particular. Moreover, the philosophical concerns that serve as the subtext of these poems are also the same concerns, more or less, that I wrote about and studied while in school. Thus, I feel that I ought to preface this article with the confession that Beneath Stretching Pines is, to some degree, an inadvertent extension of my academic work. These poems are not only mine and the reader’s, but they also belong to the history and the discourses that inspired them (consciously or unconsciously).
Generally speaking, my work is imagistic in nature, and it is deeply indebted to the environment I occupy. I have lived in Northeastern Washington for most of my adult life, which is why much of my work attends to the kinds of subjects and places you find here. If I were to briefly define my poetics and/or the philosophical foundations of my work, I’d argue that my poetry essentially attempts to dissolve the boundary lines between abstraction and the perceived world, or selfhood and worldhood. Ideally, the speakers of my poems and the scenes they describe are interconnected to the point of being indistinguishable—the language signifies the contact between the speaker’s consciousness and the world they perceive, but the language also erases and replaces each’s presence. In this way, I like to think that the writing of poetry, like the reading of poetry, is a self-effacing or deindividualizing project. In both writing and reading, thought is brought into a kind of momentary coextension with the world perceived for the purpose of creating a linguistic experience, and thereby meaning. In this way, the creation of linguistic, abstract meaning doesn’t distract from, nor is it opposed to, empirical reality, but is instead intimately connected with empirical reality as we experience it. Ultimately, I like to think that my poems exemplify and occupy the liminal space between the abstract self and the material world (ignoring the troubling possibility of solipsism), and thereby destabilize such binaries. I also think it is entirely possible that the liminal spaces between the self and the world—the sensory spheres we occupy and the systems of signs we use to articulate and/or create meaning from such spheres—are all that we can essentially know. Thereby, the self and the world are potentially unknowable as distinct entities, which is what I like to think my poetry subtly elucidates and/or contends with.
Nevertheless, I also like to think that my poems are readily accessible, and I hope that they are enjoyable to read. In the end, I’d happily reduce them to nature poems—most are simply linguistically constructed scenes to imagine and inspire thought. They are syntactically deconstructed strings of words that manipulate language’s capacity to produce images for the purpose of creating internal, or imagined, spaces from the reader’s memory. The subtext I’ve described up to now is simply what inspired the works and is otherwise unimportant. The beauty of poetry, or any art for that matter, is that the author’s thoughts are only a minuscule starting point. Hopefully, my work will find an audience (hence this article with Authors’ Lounge) that will enjoy making meaning of the language that happily blends replaces myself and the world it describes. The purpose of sharing art isn’t necessarily self-expression, but the expression of art itself.