New writing has been slow going for me since about 2001, with many false starts & stops, for a variety of reasons, most of which I don't understand. Probably you steady sloggers of this blog have had an inkling of that, considering how much I dwell on things written in the previous millennium.
While continually pondering what to do & where to go with it lately, it struck me once again how, exactly, the longest of the long poems got started, at the beginning of working on Stubborn Grew (around 1998 or so). It struck me again how decisively the whole thing began with an act of mimicry. Any Russian poetry-reader, I'm sure, would find no such echo there, since it was a kind of fantasy, a role-playing, rather than a careful form of copying or transposition. But I was trying to re-write Mandelstam's Voronezh poems - both theme & style. That is, it was, first of all, the earthward, earthy, black-earth theme of the Voronezh poems which I picked up on - the landscape - both as leading toward a sort of Orpheus re-do, and as something I felt connected with personally (rural Midwest). Secondly, I tried to channel a certain tone I heard - a talky, informal, intimate, sweet-happy-melancholy tone. Of course it led off in another direction... but that was the sound I was "listening" to as I started writing.