What advice do you wish you had gotten as a teen?
I wish someone had told me, repeatedly, that I would survive it, whatever "it" was--adolescence, suburbia, my own strange and intense emotional life. I wish I'd been told that the best parts of me would outlast it, that I didn't have to be so serious about the details. That things change, and if you can learn to love change, you'll outsmart the forces looking to derail you and you'll win.
Tell us about a time when you were brave, or bravery was required of you, or you saw someone else being brave.
Sometimes just sitting with yourself and your mind and your body can be the bravest thing. I realized this when I started going to a meditation class a couple of years ago. I was going through a time of change and transition; I was letting go of someone and trying to figure out what kind of woman I was and wanted to be. Sitting in silence with my fear and grief, facing it, facing the hard questions was, in retrospect, a brave act. It felt like the time I went skydiving, or the time I packed up my life and left California for New York City, or the time I told someone the difficult truth. Can you keep your heart open to the moment? Can you look on the world with clarity? That's what bravery is to me: seeing a situation with sword-like clarity and acting from from a place of integrity.
How do you start a poem? Give us a window into your process.
I like to write while in motion, preferably while walking city streets with music streaming in my ear, words and lines emerging from some mysterious place. I'll try my best to memorize what comes to me in those moments, then I'll go home and madly write (or type) it all down. There are many roads to a poem: a prompt from a friend, a line that comes to you in the car, listening to music and letting it inspire the imagination. I suppose I try to listen for poetry, in all of those moments, strange as that might sound.
What is your motto for getting through the tough times?
Be like the woman warrior: fierce, open-eyed, open-hearted and the one who writes her own destiny.