I inherited poetry on both sides of my family. My parents met at a lecture on Shakespeare by Auden. They both loved to read poetry and recited it aloud a lot, and of their five children, I was the one poetry stuck to. I was a quiet, introspective child who felt the magic of connecting to nature and the universe, and poetry enhanced that feeling. By age seven I was memorizing and performing poems from Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses, and I began to write my own poems shortly after. My mother was my first poetry teacher.

My earliest poems were chants about dreams and visions. After my seventh-grade English teacher told me that real poets write in free verse, I did so for about 15 years — but I still used rhythm as much as I could, because it was like a physical hunger. I’ve always wanted my poetry to create alternate reality, sacred space.

In my 20s I performed incantational free-verse ritual poetry in the performance poetry scene in New York and San Francisco. I earned a Ph.D at Stanford, where I developed two ideas, both of which I have written about at length, that helped me define my adult poetic voice. One, “the metrical code,” explained how meter creates meaning and inspired me to write in a whole range of meters. The other, “poetess poetics,” led me to write within women’s poetic traditions as an alternative to the male Romantic ego. Now that I had my tools and my tradition, I developed my spiritual path in witchcraft and women-centered spirituality and found my subject matter.

My poetry today uses a full range of meters and participates exuberantly in the tradition of women’s poetry while reaching out to contemporary listeners in the service of the matriarchal culture I feel is finally on its way — and just in time to save the earth.

Annie Finch
Interview with Frances Donovan
Gender Focus 27th March 2016