The ancient Greeks lived by a philosophy embodied in the Golden Mean, which can be explained as the centrally balanced point between opposing extremes. I hold to a similar ideal in my poetry, though my golden mean would be best depicted as the apex of a pyramid.
When I'm writing a poem, if I find a line that stands head and shoulders above the rest, that line becomes my golden mean, and all of the other lines must then measure up to it. This also applies to the title, which I sometimes pull from within the poem.
My style of writing poetry is not unlike sorting out a Rubik's Cube. All of its sides must align properly and smoothly or I won't be satisfied with the piece, and neither should the reader. It is the standard I adhere to.
This approach to writing poetry is probably due to the fact that I was largely self-taught, from the 6th grade onward, and that I had to figure it out on my own. Each of my mentors had died long before I was born, so I found what counsel I could in their written works.
Then one day, someone responded to one of my poems by remarking, "Oh, I really like that line," which immediately made me wonder why they weren't as excited about the other lines in my poem. "What? My poem isn't perfect?" That remark helped to make me the poet I am today.
Looking for that best lines in my poems became an ardent quest for me. It is probably the most important writing tool I own, and I owe immense appreciation to someone who's visage and voice I, sadly, can no longer recall. Whoever you are, I thank you!
Along with that, I now realize that being hypersensitive, which is often regarded as a negative trait, happens to have benefited this poet greatly. It has enabled me to always take deeply to heart any and all comments I receive on my work, whether it be critical, agreeable, or dismissive.
The poets and poetry that are included in "The Oxford Book of English Verse" greatly contributed to the process by which I have grown as a poet. Likewise, it is my hope that my poems might one day serve to encourage a current or future budding poet, who will also be searching for the hows and whys of writing poetry; in pursuit of their golden mean.