In its fall issue the Beloit Poetry Journal will be publishing my poem "John Doe's Love Letter" as well as a long essay I wrote about Christina Hutchins's poetry collection Tender the Maker. It will be the first time I've ever had prose and poetry appear simultaneously in the same journal, and the moment feels important. What I mean is "privately important," of course: it won't make much difference to readers one way or the other; but for me, this will be the inaugural public acknowledgment of the stylistic split that seems to have become embedded in my writing production.
Many great poets of the past--say, the mid-twentieth-century lions such as Carruth, Wilbur, Lowell--also wrote essays about poetry; but no one thought of them as essayists first or even as essayists also. They were always poets first. That has not been my experience. Certain magazines will only take prose from me; others will only take poetry . . . despite the fact that both sorts of journals publish many different genres. So I've had to ride this divide, and not only as a writer but also as a teacher.
Last week Baron told me I would have been a better-known writer if I had been working 40 years ago, which is a depressing thought but also a comic one. "If only I were an old, old lady now, I would be famous." There's a Monty Python skit waiting in the wings.