Although I have traveled far and wide, I am never far from the Monongahela Valley. I am a second-generation American; the Old Countries are never far from me. The wood, and hills, rivers and “cricks” have given me an appreciation for nature.
My high school years were spent near Philadelphia, which was my own immigration. While I still found woods, I had to learn about myself more. That process continued at Penn State. By then I was writing poetry, and did so, albeit with less frequency, until I went to my first Lutheran parish in Virginia.
Still, I read poetry. Auden, Eliot, Yeats, Rilke, Goethe (the latter two in the original German) remain important to me. I could read Baudelaire and Rimbaud in the original with lesser ease. Along the way I found other favorites.
About 14 years ago I started writing poems again, prompted by the picture now on the cover of Places and Times. During 2004-05 I was on military deployment in Germany. My dissertation research finished there, and by 2007 I switched gears from scholarly writing to poetry.
Some people wonder why I am not a “Christian writer’. Over the years I have delivered hundreds of sermons, and written dozens of columns or articles for newsletters. I regard myself as a writer who is a Christian more specifically a Lutheran who is at home with Anglicanism. Religious themes permeate my writing, but it is neither blatantly obvious nor confrontational.
While others may not wonder that I write, I seem to surprise some people, and in a good way, with what I write. That pleases me very much, I constantly explore the places and people who have helped me evolve not the person I became. Having been bi-vocational for decades, many experiences from my careers find their way into poems. A beautiful landscape, face, or moment will also find a way there also.
At this time in my life I reflect back on those who were important to me, especially as they pass away, and on the extraordinary good fortune I have enjoyed. Perhaps poetry is a way not only of giving thanks, but also of making good use of what I have.
My styles vary. Sometimes I rhyme, sometimes I do not. I have written sonnets, sonnet cycles, multiple-piece works, and shorter ones also. I try not to be beholden too much to style, but I do have strong preferences.
Right now I have enough for another book, perhaps two. I also enjoyed mentoring other poets and writers, largely because others have taken time with me. I intend to pass it on as long and as far as I can.