For those of you interested in the process of creating a new work such as this, I start improvising and sketching ideas on the piano, taking ideas directly inspired by the poetry. I’m a pencil-paper guy, and spend the bulk of my time (80%?) at the piano where I create/revise/modify my musical gestures until I get just the sounds and shapes I’m looking for.
Here’s a photo of my handwritten score from the first movement (“We Asked The Captain” from a poem by Robert Haas). While I write linearly, you might notice a large arrow at the bottom of the first page, pointing directly to the bottom stanza of the second page. As the work progresses, this sort of thing becomes more ubiquitous (this particular page of the score now has many more arrows, melodic ideas that are crossed out, as well as another page inserted in between – God help anyone attempting to read this music on their own).