Sometimes Pierre remembered stories he had heard about how soldiers at war, taking cover under enemy fire, when there is nothing to do, try to find some occupation for themselves so as to endure the danger more easily. And to Pierre all people seemed to be such soldiers, saving themselves from life: some with ambition, some with cards, some with drafting laws, some with women, some with playthings, some with horses, some with politics, some with hunting, some with wine, some with affairs of state. "Nothing is either trivial or important, it's all the same; only save yourself from it as best you can!" thought Pierre. "Only not to see it, that dreadful it!"

It's been twenty years since I turned to the practice of poetry, desperate, hoping that it would both help save me and help me see more clearly what it was saving me from.

Has it become not only a huge diversion, but a mostly unpleasant one, with the pressure to write something "great" robbing every other text of its pleasure and place?

Yes, still pretty desperate, questioning the sincerity, integrity, necessity and viability of my practice.  You?

Originally Published: April 9th, 2012

A first-generation Ukrainian American, Olena Kalytiak Davis grew up in Detroit and was educated at Wayne State University, the University of Michigan Law School, and Vermont College. Davis’s poetry collections include And Her Soul Out of Nothing (1997), selected by Rita Dove for the Brittingham Prize in Poetry, and shattered...