Found this NY Times science article on blindsight very interesting (you may need to sign up to read this).
Poetry (in my case, anyway) seems to depend on a sort of unconscious instinct or imaginative conception... I often feel like I'm "feeling my way", stumbling along with my fingers extended (on the piano...). It's always been like this. I started writing when I was 4 yrs old (see sidebar for example). Music & poetry have gone together.
You start writing when there's a balance between the conception in your mind, and a few words & lines (for me it's usually an opening line). This preliminary balance gives you the confidence to go forward... & sometimes there are clusters or offshoots from a theme or word or idea (Mandelstam often worked thus).
Now I keep going back to these long strung-out modes (cf. Lanthanum). There's a cost involved (or maybe many costs!) - ie. a certain indirectness... I don't take on a topical or social topic so directly and clearly as I used to do, the way most good poetry does... I work on this sort of vague architectural impulse, trying to synthesize, evoke and project a holistic vision of reality & history, my view of things-as-they-are...
I still get rejected by the major magazines all the time. I'm not good enough for them, I guess. Funny thing is I still think I'm the best U.S. poet alive today. What the hell (bravado speaking).
I don't build my poems - my poems have built me. I work slowly & quietly, on my own. The poems span a continuum from the simple to the complex. I think many of the old poems, even of 30 yrs ago, remain valid & interesting. I go into regions few have explored. I have a musical sense.
Let them laugh, let them scoff, let them brush me off. Language has a stubborn lastingness. Maybe I will have the last laugh.
Mandelstam had an attitude I admire, a sort of faith or fatalism in the role of the poet - something that can never be dislodged from people's lives. Poetry is there, wherever the free mind & heart are responding to what happens to them in this violent world. "the well is always there". M. would say things to his wife & friends like "if the poet has something to say, he (or she) will make himself heard". (I'm not quoting exactly.) "If they need it, it will be found." He had this very weird confidence in the objective reality of poetry, & how it reaches into the people & culture from which it emerged. Poetry was healing & joy & gracefulness, it's there because people need it, & want it. Basically, he knew his own strength - & he also didn't care that much about his own "literary fortunes". He didn't worry about it. He was too absorbed in the poetry itself, & all the poets & poetry around him. He was a Pushkinian. And Pushkin was Mozartean. The gift was there - the music flowed. Everything else was a sideshow.