A novelist and a poet are having lunch together. The poet says, “What did you do this morning?” The novelist says, “I finished a chapter and worked on the outline for the next two chapters. What did you do?” The poet responds, “I put a comma in, and then I took it out.”
For Delaware poet David P. Kozinski, this standing joke among writers humorously captures the obsessive preciseness that defines his craft. “In poetry, every single word, every single bit of punctuation, every single detail—line breaks, stanza breaks, the rhythm and sounds of the words—is essential,” he says.
Proving he could achieve commercial success as a poet, Kozinski auspiciously forged a career path within this esoteric literary landscape. His notable achievements include 2018 Delaware Division of the Arts Established Professional Poetry Fellow, Wilmington’s Rockwood Park and Museum Poet-in-Residence, and 2018 Mentor of the Year by Expressive Path—a nonprofit promoting youth participation in the arts in Pennsylvania where he conducted poetry workshops for sheltered and adjudicated residents.
Kozinski’s published poems number in the hundreds and have appeared in 30-plus literary journals. His second full-length book of poetry, I Hear It the Way I Want It to Be, in which he explores his life, family and optimism for these challenging times, was recently released by Kelsay Books.
His poems reflect his fluid approach to subject matter, plucking the seeds of inspiration from everyday life—random moments that catch the eye, ruminations of a fertile imagination, a fleeting snapshot of the human condition. “These are the kinds of things that could become a poem at some point,” he says.
Kozinski’s love of the genre first blossomed in his early teens when he and his family summered in France where his father and brother studied music. With no room or materials for visual art projects, he took up pen and paper to satisfy his need for creative expression. “I just started jotting things down and writing little stories and poems,” he recalls.
Influenced early on by the works of Richard Brautigan, James Dickey and Allen Ginsberg, Kozinski believes that the main subject of poetry is language itself—the sounds of the words, the cadence of a well-executed line, the experiential transference of words into images interpreted by the reader.
The purpose of poetry is highly subjective and largely defined by societal norms of the time. Kozinski views the current popularity of poetry slams, spoken word festivals and rap’s rhythmic lyrics with hope for the future of the genre and the world as a whole.
“Anything that gets people interested in having fun with language and learning how to use it comfortably contributes to better communication,” he says. “And the better we communicate, the better chance we have of getting along.”