Paul Francis (paulfranciswrites.co.uk) has asked me to take part in this scheme; I am grateful to him for giving me this chance to step back, pause and think about I am trying to do as a writer. The 4 questions to be answered are as follows:
1) What am I working on? I’m working rather randomly at present, trying to write poems about whatever presents itself as having something interesting to show or say. Having experienced new grandparenthood three times in the past few months I have been writing a lot about babies, parents and early childhood – maybe that will add up to a sequence? Before that I was engaged in the new landscapes, social as well as physical, impressed on us by a move from Norfolk to the West Midlands.
2) How does my work differ from others of this genre? Narrative verse used to fascinate me – especially that of Chaucer. Writing long (mostly unreadable) poems has been part of a life-long protest against what I considered to be the “minor-isation” of much contemporary poetry. But nowadays, thanks to the shorter energy bursts and briefer concentration spans that have been brought about by old age, I am writing shorter “byte-sized” poems – hopefully in a more accessible free verse style. I am writing those occasional lyrics and “minor” observations that I used to despise so heartily. So perhaps my poems are becoming less different, more mainstream.
3) Why do I write what I do? Because I have tried to write “poetry” for so long that I can’t stop now even nearing the age of 70 when I probably should be finding more useful things to do like tidying up the house. I guess that a psychologist might say writing is actually a way of tidying up the psychic house, which would otherwise be full of cobwebby corners, haunting memories, puzzling encounters, personal chaos… But one also hopes that one’s best poems might be thought-provoking and entertaining for “the general reader” as well. One hopes that such a reader might be able to relate to one’s exploration of common human experience. (What alot of “ones” one has used!) I like the idea of poetry as descriptive play but I also like the idea that it should be instructive, – “eye-opening” in the widest sense.
4) How does your writing process work? I have been interested to read how previous contributors to this blog tour still use old-fashioned long hand on paper… Jeff even mentions a “biro” – how quaint! My own handwriting has been illegible for so long, my eyesight so poor, that I have got used to composing straight into/onto a computer… I find it invaluable for moving text around, for filing, drafting, endlessly redrafting – in other words for continual experimentation. As for the mysterious sources of the creative process itself, a useful metaphor might be that of dropping a first idea, sensation or image like a log on a rope into the depths of the unconscious, then pulling it up from time to time to discover whatever images, even clusters of language, have accreted. More practically, exposing drafts to writing workshops and to fellow writers I find to be increasingly useful; nearly always others can spot mistakes or suggest improvements that I have overlooked.
Thank you for giving time (if you have) to reading this. How flattering to be afforded the space to muse, like some attention seeking adolescent, on My Poetic Self. Two further writers on this Blog Tour who I would enthusiastically recommend are Nadia Kingsley, who publishes beautifully produced books and pamphlets at Fairacre press as well as being a meticulous nature poet herself, and Tom Wentworth, an exciting and award-winning young dramatist. Tom and Nadia will be posting their answers to the four leading questions on March 17th . Here are their details:
Nadia Kingsley is a poet, writer, editor and publisher. Her poems have appeared in Orbis, the colours issue of Here Comes Everyone, We’re all in this together (Offa’s Press), Inspired by Dudmaston, and Bridgnorth Writers’ Anthologies. Her short stories and poems have been placed in competitions; but most of her recent work can be found as part of the growing Fair Acre Press catalogue.
(photo courtesy of Patrick Baldwin)
Tom Wentworth is a playwright. His current projects include being part of Graeae Theatre Company’s Write To Play Programme while Windy Old Fossils, his full length play will be performed as part of Pentabus Theatre Co.’s Young Writers’ Festival in 2014. Tom is also a regular reviewer for Disability Arts Online and a long time columnist for Able Magazine where he writes about life after university. Tom splits his time between Cardiff and Shropshire.