I’ve been thinking about poetry a lot lately.
I suppose that’s no real surprise considering that this month’s aim is to write a poem per day.
I like writing poetry. I always have despite long periods where I haven’t written anything so much as a stanza.
I use a pen and paper more often than anything else when I’m writing poetry. There is something incredibly personal to me about writing, or even reading, a poem even if the content isn’t personal at all. Typing it up on a computer once I’ve written the poem down elsewhere doesn’t feel strange but typing it up directly does to me. It’s probably just a quirk.
The thing is: Nobody ever told me that I could be a poet.
If you walk into a bookstore you will see novels, maybe even a few short stories but I always find the selection of poetry to be small even if it is interesting. There are many books/ other forms of advice on becoming a novelist but becoming a poet, to me at least, seems like a distant, almost improbable concept. Poetry is a skill, a talent although learning the format is definitely possible, for me poetry is more about the feeling.
There’s something classic about poetry. A weight, almost, that comes with knowing how old and ever-changing the tradition actually is.
Great poets – W.B. Yeat’s, Robert Frost, Carol Ann Duffy, to name a few – stand the test of time and stand out amongst their contemporaries but how many poets faded into obscurity beyond the shining light that picked out individuals? How does someone ordinary face up to what seems like dizzying heights?
That might be a little self-depreciating. Ordinary? I try to avoid the word but, I’ll be honest, my life is comfortable and sometimes feels very ordinary indeed. We are what we are used to, I guess.
I truly adore poetry. I imagine that it would be extremely difficult to continue writing poetry without feeling passionate about it.
Working on publishing a book of poetry as I did last year (Spectral Visions Press Tarot Collection), made me consider that sometimes a poet just needs an opportunity to show their work. Like most writing, poetry is incredibly subjective and two people may never see eye-to-eye about how they feel for a piece of poetry. That’s okay. It may even be purposeful on the part of the writer.
What is good poetry?
I have no answer.
I know what I like. My favourite poems are ‘Silver’ by Walter De La Mare, ‘Jabberwocky’ by Lewis Carroll, ‘The Highwayman’ by Alfred Noyes and ‘Strawberries’ by Edwin Morgan (In a competition I once read this out loud in front of an entire room of people – go and read the poem and you will see why I was both amused and slightly embarrassed by the amount of compliments afterwards). I like a good story. That doesn’t really change for me no matter what the format is.
I like what I’m doing right now. Writing as it comes to me and not dwelling too much on whether or not anybody else will like it (although it’s always nice, of course, to receive positive comments). I may not be confident in describing myself solely as a poet but I do love writing poetry.
I’m not sure if the point of this particular blog post is that part of me wants to be a nomadic poet roaming the wilds and swapping words for a place to stay for the night or that I just like poetry. Take of it what you will.
I slip from path to path,
never lingering too long
as I sing loudly and laugh
at the words of the song
which falls from my mouth.
There are the sad people
who trudge wearily South
and look for a gold steeple
that signals a better life
free from all hardships,
but all that waits is strife.
So song falls from my lips
as I try to turn them back
but my warnings fall flat
and I cannot change tack,
so I stopped dancing and sat
while I kept on singing
and the people passed by
with no chance of winning.
It is not in my nature to lie
though they heard no truth.
I watched them for a while,
it niggled like a bad tooth,
the line went back a mile
I gave up and left to walk
upon another path that led
to people who did not balk
to hear the truth being said.
I’m happy to announce that my first guest blog will be written by Cara De Sausmarez, currently an intern with Spectral Visions Press but I’ll let her introduce herself properly later. If all goes well it will be posted and accessible from the ‘Guest Blog’ menu at the top of the page on the last day of the month so there is not long to go.