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Creation Story

Darren Morris, writer

Why he bristles at the term poet: Although Darren Morris writes poetry, don't call him a poet. He hates that word. "When you say poet, people imagine [either] some flaky little tights-wearing dandy or some loafing dropout," he says. Morris isn't either. He is, however, a writer, crafting poems three times a week and trying his hand at screenplay writing. Both poetry and film are about imagery, perspective and place, he says. "[Both] are a way to get in touch with the universe whether real or imagined."

Why he doesn't take poetry too seriously: Morris says he writes "to take memory and make a bridge to the present condition [of things]." He considers writers conduits to another world. "You're just the highway, the guy who retrieves the memory. I live in my head," he says, laughing. As seriously as he can talk about poetry, he tries not to. He describes the world of poetry as full of pretension — something he has no need for. He even suggests that the only thing people hate more than interviews with poets ... is poems. "I don't sit down [to work] with some grand philosophy about poetry," he says. "I try to make it easier, not more complex, to understand a poem."

Why poetry is like a night on the town: For Morris, writing poetry is like one's wedding day. "You're so absorbed, you can't or don't really know what it is." He finds himself torn between giving himself over to the writing and fearing what that means. The writing Morris does is all-consuming. It changes him. "It's a hard pleasure to have," he says. "It feels like you've stayed out all night, smoking cigarettes and drinking whisky. You feel used up, crushed by it." It might make you wonder why he does it. With a characteristic smile, he explains that he simply can't help it.

On how he finds balance: That's easy — dogs. First, there was losing Stella, his wife's border collie mix of nearly 12 years, an experience that reminded him not to take himself, or the world, too seriously. "It just rips the heart from its moorings," Morris says. "I think she influenced just about everything I've written over the past five years." Then there was getting Lola, their new Australian shepherd puppy. Morris says her presence is essential. "Having a dog around gives you a sense of humor," he says. Lola also keeps him tied to reality, a tie Morris thinks the world of poetry could use. "I'm interested in connecting, not disconnecting. I'm already disconnected," Morris says wryly. But don't believe him. Nothing about him or his writing says detachment. And that's what makes them both worth knowing. — Jenny Block

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