The editors of Poetry magazine have paired the following prose quotations from City Dog: Essays by W.S. Di Piero with this poem:
"I had no poetry mentors in college and was intellectually formless. I took instruction from whichever poets came my way, with little more than chronology, crude taste, and instinct to lead me. Visual artists became exemplars, too, and I wanted to emulate them, since every art—music, dance, writing—seemed to converse with some other and all were in the business of form-finding. I don’t mean to dignify this. I was raw, green, mule-headed, and fearful of being found out: I was hideously unprepared for serious study and as hideously primitive in using words. But I was dog-face serious and must have cut an amusing figure."
"In time, the poetry I wanted to write would be one without middle zones, without a sustained discursive middle range or plain presentational balance. I didn’t want to sound like Tennyson, sonorous, dignified, and responsible. Browning was closer: capable of the most exquisite lyric effects but also twitchy and volatile and impatient. I’m touched by Henry James’s description of him reading his poems aloud in a way that suggested he hated them, biting and twisting the words, anxious, unsatisfied, inflamed by their very existence."