Over the years I have resisted writing “about” my poems – giving anything I believed would present some undeserved insight, or a short cut, to a full reading of the poems. I have been on guard for many years perhaps protecting myself more than the poems. Tonight, as I write this preface, I do so knowing that the poems will stand or fall on their own depending, in part, upon who is reading them and, in part, upon the voices emerging from the poems themselves. Even at 55 years old and with three previous books of poems published I have only recently, in the past three or four years, begun to accept myself as a writer. Why? Talk to my therapist, she is good. So good she won’t tell you a damn thing!
So I will write a few words about what the poems in god won’t overlook us mean to me. It all really centers on that title. First of all, it was a gift, what William Stafford might have called a “bonus of the world.” That is, I overheard the phrase from someone’s conversation, or a friend wrote it down in a note to me and didn’t mind me stealing it, or one of my kids sensing fear or innocence, or both, uttered something almost theological as we adults often do in our hasty prayers of petition in tight places. The poems are not prayers, they are gifts—received and returned. They are beautiful, sensual, sad, sexual, joyful, silly, horrible, dying to be heard and daring to be challenged. The poems mean, literally, the world to me because that is where they come from—my world, your world, the world around and inside. But I do not own them. Never have, never will.
Secondly, the small “g” in place of a capital “G” in “God” is intended to give myself, and hopefully others, permission to meet the holy on my own terms. The poems move in and around the world and the spirit or, as I would rather say, the spirit of the world. god is a part of that world/spirit but not as revenge or reward—more like revolution. Writing is a revolutionary act no matter what your politics. I know I am not the first one to say this but I do believe it. And I believe that god is in solidarity with the word, the gift, the passion, the art, the revolt signaled by the poem. Go ahead. Move out into the deep waters…god will not overlook us.
– February 13, 2001—late evening, Wichita, Kansas