MY FATHER LOVED poetry — or, should I say, he loved certain down-to-earth poems he could, and did, recite when moved by circumstance. It was his delivery of them — gently impassioned and freighted with tender gravity — that brought poetry into my life at an early age.
My mother, too, knew that poetry mattered, and made sure, deftly, that here and there my siblings and I would come across poems in books she checked out from the Seattle Public Library or bought at the University Bookstore.
Eventually, I became a high school English teacher, and in that role often felt moved while sharing poetry with young people. I read a lot of poetry, too, always with the sense that in this form of expression, something of significance was eminently possible.
How strange, then, that in my life as a writer — which began in earnest in 1977 — I wrote no poems until 2010. And how strange it was, in 2010, to pull off the road in the Horse Heaven Hills and, inexplicably and suddenly inspired, finally write one.
Over the next few years, I wrote dozens of poems, gathering those that seemed naturally to converge under the title “Songs for A Summons,” published by Lost Horse Press in 2014. Those collected poems were associated but separate. In their wake, though, I began to hear the music of a more sustained poetry; an incantation rolling and propulsive; a rhythm that felt like walking a mountain trail, which is a brand of walking I’m wont to do and have done since childhood in our Cascade and Olympic ranges.
From that new music came my book-length poem, “Turn Around Time: A Walking Poem for the Pacific Northwest,” among other things a paean to our part of the world. In the essay printed elsewhere in these pages, I hope I’ve illuminated our shared terrain, and underscored our obligation, as inhabitants of this place, to preserve it for generations to come.