A: I've published some short stories and essays, but I'm primarily a poet. As a high school teacher, I'm frequently consumed by my teaching, but I've tried over the last 20 years to carve out time for writing whether it be during summers or vacations, in class with my students or on my drive home, or on evenings or weekends when I can put aside my school work to write. I mostly write poems miscellaneously and randomly rather than toward some predetermined project or theme. The latter, I've found, doesn't work that well for me. The books and chapbooks I've published have been collections of these miscellaneously written (and often published) poems, ordered as best I could. This is the way most poetry collections come together. In terms of individual poems, I've published over 200 since I started keeping track in the early '90s. I can speak about two recent poems, one just published, one soon to be. "Music from a Farther Room" took shape while I was vacationing at the Jersey shore a couple summers ago. After a day at the beach, I was relaxing on the deck with my writing pad and listening to all the ambient sounds, and I began to contemplate the sounds that people hear upon their deathbeds (a bit morbid, I know). I wrote this poem rather quickly, over about two or three days. I tinkered with it on and off up until it was accepted by The Massachusetts Review for a theme issue they were doing on music. To my delight, the poem was recently chosen by the editors for the Anne Halley Poetry Prize, an award given to the best poem published in the calendar year. The journal invited me to conduct a reading in Amherst, Massachusetts in April as part of the prize. Another poem, "Wild Columbine," came together last summer while I was at an artist's residency program in Vermont called The Marble House Project. One morning, I took down a book from the library shelf. It was an old book, its pages almost crumbling in my hand, and it was a kind of dictionary of literary, mythical, and biblical symbols and tropes. I turned to a page on bells, and I read of several legends of bells ringing on their own. This gave me the first line of the poem: "Some bells ring of their own accord." In a kind of classification set up by the first word, I followed with: "Some need the boy who pulls the rope / and is lifted off his feet on the upswing." The lines that follow begin to explore the subjects of faith and loss of innocence, and the poem culminates in a meditation on a different kind of bell, a wild columbine flower, which I'd seen growing by one of the paths on the property. This led to a reflection on the ruination of the flower's name by the school shooting at Columbine High School in 1999. I can't ever look at that wildflower without thinking of that terrible and tragic event. This poem is forthcoming in the journal Ploughshares this spring.