When I lived on the edge of Atlantic and Smith, I lived alone, in a studio on the third floor, and sometimes, not counting my students, I would go days without seeing another person. I think this poem, and a lot of my work, is born in this solitude. At the same time, we are always surrounded by other people—or their avatars—on the Internet, a flattened landscape in which we are always arriving. There’s a sort of schizophrenic ebb and flow at work here which we also see in our own everyday interactions on the Internet, a seesaw between vulnerability and judgment, and somewhere swirling in the current is intimacy. What does it mean to be constantly in motion, but never really going anywhere?
My movement of a poem—for better or worse—is so often dictated by the movement of line breaks, where a thought curtails and how it might breathe access elsewhere—how drastically can I re-contextualize the line before or the line that follows based on its organization?—is something I am constantly thinking about as I try to edge the narrative or scene or simply move toward an eventual question. But another objective of “I arrive as I always do” involved the use of specific words. I mentioned my students earlier because I had just assigned one of my Pace sections a project called “Luminous Details,” a crowd-sourced Google document-cum-journal in which they had to record sensory details in the Imagist style; direct treatment of the thing, nothing but the details. I challenged them—and then myself—to create a poem using a selection of the details they’d collectively written down during the two days since we had last seen each other in person. Perhaps that’s why I needed three verses to get there. And of course the wisdom of my students.
I think that’s the best thing about the Internet and its possibilities for open collaboration, a microcosm of our everyday human experience, should we ever get there. I wanted to see myself in their own highly personal, individual experiences, but I also wanted all of them to be a part of my own re-arranged, often-haphazard life, a montage of skin and sensation that is as much theirs as it is mine.