I read a lot of poetry as a child, and took a break from it in highschool, though I do remember liking Emily Dickinson at that age, especially “I felt a Funeral, in my Brain” (340).
I first started writing poetry as an undergraduate student, many years ago. Only now, in my forties, do I consider myself a poet.
I don't think of poetry as a job; it's more of a vocation, a calling. If we do have a job, it takes place in the margins, offers a point of view that is peripheral to mainstream thinking. For me, a good poet somehow expresses the unspeakable using the tools of poetic craft — like image and metaphor, rhyme and meter — in unique combination.
I would memorize Whitman’s “A Noiseless Patient Spider.” It is a beautiful, breathless lyric about the poetic act, about casting one's lines — in a strange act of faith — into the universe with its “measureless oceans of space.”