Seventeen years ago, I started writing again after a long time away from it. It was an early spring day in 1995 and I was a sophomore in college, waiting for my biology class to start. For some reason that has been lost to time, I had decided earlier in the day to start writing again and had purchased a notebook at the campus bookstore to carry with me when I felt the urge to create. I remember sitting on a bench outside the auditorium and scribbling out the words to a poem about longing. I knew that if I wanted to grow and write poetry that would move people, I needed to read all kinds of poetry, so that summer I bought several books and read them in earnest. At the time I was enamoured with Carl Sandberg’s Chicago Poems, but the poet whose voice has spoken to me most over the years is Robert Frost.
What I like most about his tone is that it’s folksy and somewhat plain-spoken compared to other poetry of the period (he wrote from the 1890’s to the 1960’s and gave a speech at John Kennedy’s inaugural). Frost’s poetry, while evocative and lush, conveys the idea of sitting on a front porch talking to your grandfather about the world’s deep matters. Two of my favorite resources that I still find inspiration in are The Notebooks of Robert Frost and The Robert Frost Reader. The former is a transcription of all of the notebooks he kept and I have used some of the scraps and tidbits as writing prompts. The book was a birthday gift from my grandfather and it has an honored place on my bookshelf. The reader is a collection of all of his poetry and prose, including letters and university speeches he wrote, and I have underlined my favorite passages on many of the pages. I have tried to imitate his folksy manner,to little success, but when I think about it, he probably wouldn’t want me to do so. Instead, I think he would encourage me to take my own road not travelled and find the voice that lies within my heart.