I live in the shadow of the North Cascade Mountains, near the Pilchuck River, not too far from Seattle, Washington, with my wife, an artist. Recently I have been focusing on a fantasy novel,, The Titan of Wisdom, arising from my many years of storytelling, for children and for my men’s group here in Snohomish County.
I was taught storytelling in the oral tradition. I tell the old tales as well as my own in just that way. And my narrative increasingly is influenced by this, the long or the short, wherever it leads. I craft my poems, which are often slowly revealed to me, line by line, word by singing word.
the dark counterweight to what I think I know.
In my family we were all windbag storytellers, but I was in the middle, between louder brothers and darling sisters. So I wasn’t much seen or heard. At the University of Washington in the Sixties, I imagined I could write a whole novel–if I could get up steam. Then I stumbled into Theodore Roethke’s verse writing class, into the white heat of making poems, in what would be the last year of the great poet’s life.
For years after, I was strung between poetry and narrative, until fatherhood grounded me in daily love and bread. I worked nights in a bakery while writing–and rewriting–a novel, as well as a good many poems that got me through those times.
I found some recovery and healing by telling the wise old tales to children in schools. I was Baba Yaga. I was Boots. I was Blue Jay. And I was the one those children were glad to see. Now I tell the old tales (and my own) to men who look for healing as I do in a long-standing men’s group.
My writing practice begins each day with two journals, one for dreams and shadow material and one for verse–for what comes to the blank page. Beyond this I steer slowly, staring through the fog with my headlights low.