Poetry and Me
I donít usually tell people that I write poetry, somehow Iím slightly embarrassed, ashamed even. I only recently let my partner, (who I have known for sixteen years), read some. It was his positive response that inspired me to submit some of my work to Mused and other publications, and I have had a great response. Despite this, I am still unable to let most of my family and friends in on the secret! The reason for this I think is because when I write poetry, I reveal more of myself than I find comfortable.
The fact is I have always written. I grew up in a small village in Warwickshire - it was an idyllic setting, but I spent a lot of time alone. I read as many books as I could get my hands on. I remember my excitement as the mobile library trundled up the street each fortnight, the musty smell of the books, the clicking of the date stamp. It was a lifeline. I discovered great pleasure in writing my own pieces, which I sometimes subjected my Mother to, and enjoyed getting a positive, if somewhat worried, reaction.
At eighteen I moved to the lovely city of Bath to study English Literature and Ecology - a strange combination, but one which covered my two main areas of interest, although it did not really qualify me to do anything in particular! However, I found that my poetry benefitted, as I like to use imagery based on the natural world or derived from science. I donít believe that art and science should be exclusive of each other, and also to write a good poem, you need a methodical approach, once the initial flood of inspiration has passed.
So that is how I write. I wait to feel inspired by something, anything, and sometimes that is quite a wait! Then I will jot down my ideas as they come, re-arrange a lot, consult my thesaurus, until I am fairly happy. After this process I find it useful to type up the poem into a Word document, to see what it will look like to a reader. Being an avid reader of poetry myself, I want it to look inviting on the page. I am easily put-off by an undisciplined page of scrawl, and would probably not choose to continue reading. I also tend to edit, edit and edit again until only what is vital remains. I donít want any excess baggage on my poem, every word must count. It is vital, I think, to have a strong opening line, to catch the attention of a browser like myself. I try to see things in a different way, hopefully one which the reader hasnít encountered before, and try to avoid clichťs. I do count my syllables, but canít remember much about iambic pentameters!
When the first draft is complete, I print and put the poem away for a while. I always find lots of things to change when I return to it and have sometimes completely re-written poems. The problem I have is not knowing when to stop. I think that a poem is constantly evolving and can always be improved - another reason why it has taken me until my late thirties to submit. I even look at the poems which I have had published and notice improvements that could be made.
I think writing poetry is similar to photography, another of my interests, but much more frustrating. Itís like trying to capture something special with carefully crafted words and images, but something which could be said in a hundred different ways. That is why it is such a challenge.
It is interesting to see how oneís poetry develops through time, and in my case I am now more disciplined than ever, probably due to my children. So much emotional energy is tied up with them, there is little left at the end of the day for writing. I think that my children are my biggest inspiration at this time, and I am thrilled that the three poems I have in this issue are inspired by them in some way. My son has a unique and refreshing view of the world. His Aspergerís Syndrome, despite the challenges, is a gift, and we celebrate his enthusiasm and are amazed by his intelligence. My daughter is a ray of sunshine, (apologies for the clichť, but there is no better description), who takes me back through the years to my own childhood - she even makes-up her own poems, and is desperate to read and write.
The best thing about writing poetry for me is seeing their proud faces when I tell them that Mummyís poem is in a book or magazine. It is all the reward I need, although fame and fortune would be niceÖ