Although till recently a professional appraiser of art and antiques by day, my early morning hours over the past quarter-century have been devoted largely to the careful composition of formalist poetryupon a variety of themes. Among the most prominent and persistent of these topics are erotic love, classical music, the visual arts, the literary experience, and, last but hardly least, the monumental phenomenon of consciousness.
This last subject, one I have characterized in my work as “dreams of night and day,” relates to my special interest in cognitive science in its various disciplines (e.g., neuroscience, philosophy of mind, etc.). In fact, my only poems to date that have seen hardcopy publication are eight sonnets from this particular category. Three of these, “Proof that Dreams are Real," “To Dream, Perchance to Think," and “From Matter into Mind” (sonnet nos. 69-71, respectively, as numbered in my Collected Poems) can be found in print in Nicholas Tranquillo, Editor, Dream Consciousness: Allan Hobson’s New Approach to the Brain and its Mind (Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing Switzerland, 2014 [“Vienna Circle Institute Yearbook,” being Volume 3 of Vienna Circle Institute Library series edited by Friedrich Stadler, Director, Institut Wiener Kreis and University of Vienna, Austria]) where they appear showcased as chapter heads to the late Professor J. Allan Hobson’s three distinguished William James Lectures that constitute chapters 2, 3, & 4 on pp. 9, 29, and 51, respectively. The other five, including "Manifest Latency," "From Matter into Mind," "Mysticism Explained," "Extrasensory Deception," "Why I'm Skeptical of Santa," and "Ye Olde Christmas Virus" (sonnets 73, 70, 68, 67, 84, and 85, respectively, as numbered in my Collected Poems) can be found in Allan Hobson and Nicholas Tranquillo, Editors, London Bridges: Essays on Collaboration (East Burke, VT: Allan Hobson, 2016), pp. 38, 42, 73, 160, 191, and 271, respectively. And my essay, "The Belief Machine...," can be found published as the first chapter in this same volume, pp. 6-18. Three more sonnets, including "Leaping from the Flaming Tower of Psychobabble," "The Problems Gods Must Have in Worlds Such as Ours," and "The Devout Atheist at Worship" (sonnets 90, 80, and 86, respectively) appear presented as chapter endings in Professor Hobson's 2019 book, Godbrain.
Out of this fascination with the physiological mechanisms underlying consciousness along its continuum (from rational thought through the delirium of dreaming, psychosis, insobriety, etc.) also springs my preoccupation with the human brain as a powerful (and dangerous) engine of belief. And moved by the long history of suffering our species has endured as an unfortunate byproduct of the proficiency of this engine (wherein the essential learning tools of Belief are so easily forged into the fetters of Faith), I have composed numerous poems meditating on the subject of religion and its discontents—not surprisingly, perhaps, from an atheist perspective. This may be seen as well to have become a major theme at work (and play) in Chasing George, my 3,456-line subversive verse epic in 24 books of 24 stanzas, a lyric-narrative that might be most succinctly characterized as a search through the continuum of consciousness for Self. And probably less effort will be required of the reader in ferreting out this particular concern of mine within the 700 lines of my second-longest poem, my loving parody of Geoffrey Chaucer's magnificent Parlement of Foules (also known as The Parliament of Fowls [Birds]), which I have entitled The Parliament of Foul Ideas.
My compositional efforts have been confined almost exclusively to verse strictly cast in meter and rhyme, nearly entirely in iambic pentameter, and chiefly in traditional fixed forms (such as the sonnet, villanelle, tail rhyme, ottava rima, rhyme royal [see my 100-stanza poem, The Parliament of FoulIdeas], and Venus & Adonis stanza [see my epic poem, Chasing George]). I believe, or at least hope, this predilection of mine is due not to a particular lack of imagination on my part but rather to a deep respect for the liberating rigors of poetic vehicles that have proven over the many centuries to invite the tightest and most nuanced technical control over the artistic use of language discoverable in English. However, as a lover of poetry of various types, “formalist” and “free,” and being neither a theorist nor polemicist, I consider the ultimate arbiter of a poem’s quality to be the ear rather than the current popularity of the poem's particular model of vehicle.
Audio recordings of me reading some of my work, along with poems of others, may be heard on the website of Spokane Public Radio (KPBX 91.1, an NPR member station at spokanepublicradio.org) on their "Poetry Moment" program link, featuring archived weeks of readings aired May 20-24, 2019, November 29-December 3, 2021, December 26-30, 2022, and May 15-19, 2023.