Fall, 1991, and I have decided to quit writing poems. I’ve published in respectable journals, some anthologies, and had a couple of small books win small prizes, but I’m teaching nine over-enrolled courses a year at the state university as well as a full summer load in order to finance my son’s college education and get a head start on my daughter’s. I have never attended an MFA program or a summer conference and therefore have never had an older poet advise me about the quality or promise of my work. The difficult and, to my mind, almost sacred adventure of trying to write the thing called poetry has not lost its excitement, but the cost is too high and has gone on too long. I am sick of the constant guilt I feel about taking precious time away from my family, especially for an enterprise performed solely for my own selfish and mostly mysterious purposes. But in the blue-collar family in which I had grown up, one did not quit, not ever. On the other hand, one did not, if at all possible, make a fool of oneself. And I was beginning to feel like a fool.