what I think
“Mandala” is a fun poem to write about. At some point as I was working on what used to be titled “Her Room,” I accidentally hit a wrong key, thus the vertical elliptical shape, though in a rougher form. The first draft of the poem was in 1979. I remember because my younger brother was still alive. He would die in an accident a couple weeks later. I had set up shop in a freshly-painted, undecorated empty apartment my older sister was trying to rent out. The sun was coming through the window and playing on the walls. Over the years I would pick the poem up, work on it and put it down. When I thought it was close to being done, the few readers I showed it to would comment, “That’s a (female genitalia)!” Then last year my venerable ex-teacher and die-hard reader Fred Chappell suggested, “Let’s call this one “Mandala.”” I love poems that have a shared, social evolution.
Steve Roberts (Stephen Morris Roberts) was born in Wilkes-Barre, PA, and moved to Charlotte, NC, at the tender age of two months. He has published two full-length collections of poems, Another Word for Home, Main Street Rag Press, 2010, and A Space Inside A Space, St. Andrews College Press, 1999, and a chapbook, Every September . . ., Tragically Hip Press, 1998. He received a 2010 North Carolina Arts Council Regional Artist Project Grant and was a presenter on the “Art and Healing” panel at the 2009 North Carolina National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NC -NAMI) Conference: Creative Hearts, Healing Minds. His poems have appeared in Fresh, Aries, Nantahala, The New St. Andrews Review and the Asheville Poetry Review, among others. Steve graduated from the Summit School in Winston-Salem, NC, the Episcopal High School in Alexandria, VA, received a BA from UNC-Chapel Hill and a MA from Hollins College, where he received the Hollins College Graduate Fellowship and the Claytor Award for Poetry. He received an Academy of American Poets Prize and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He also received the George Mason University Graduate Fellowship, has been a fellow at the Vermont Studio Center, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Hambidge Center and the Weymouth Center and was selected by the North Carolina Writer’s Network as a 1999 Blumenthal Reader. He served as a teaching assistant at George Mason University, an adjunct professor of English at the University of Richmond, Cape Fear Community College and the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and works as a set dresser, greensman and actor in the film industry in Wilmington, NC, where he is a member of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and the Screen Actors Guild.