It's tricky, I go through bouts where I am in love with certain projects and then get weary, only to fall back in love with them again. (of course, many people would tell you I am this way about everything in my life). And these poems, which were my MFA thesis 5 years ago, were especially combed over and dissected for quite awhile, and temporarily lost some of their shimmer along the way. But reading through them today, I am madly enamoured of them again, the little world they create full of bird girls and fan dancers and bareback riders. I don't so much write poems like these now, and I'm not always sure what the difference is, except I can feel it. Sometimes I feel like the trajectory from book to book is that I'm getting better, a leaner , meaner writing machine and that the older stuff is just less developed. But I do still love even those older poems and think they are full and complete in their own way, their style serviceable to their own ends and means. I'm beginning to think that they are just different, not less, which it has taken awhile to come around to. the fever almanac is a different animal than in the bird museum, those are quite different from girl show, and what I'm writing now feels miles away from even that.
I guess you could call it progression, but often my worst secret, or not so secret fear, is that someone will come upon my work, find that they love something, and that the next thing will disappoint them somehow (whether it's older or new work depending on their taste.) I know it's a foolish fear, and you certainly can't live your life as an artist that way, but it's there, like a little needle scraping at the back of my mind. But of course, ideally, your readership, your audience, however small, will be willing to follow you along, to stay with you through leaps and sharp turns and trust that you'll get them somewhere safe and good (or maybe somewhere jagged and not so safe if that's the point).
As I'm thinking about longer book #4, which feels even more different than any of the previous three, I'm thinking it goes far beyond subject matter (which is more contemporary, more urban and fragmented and steeped in culture and pop culture than things I've written before) but also stylistically less narrative and more lyric I guess. Also more discursive..(though I feel like after the frenzy of the JF poems, I'm moving back to less discursive, who knows what's up with that? Maybe I exhausted myself in that regard.)