First Steps in January

The first snowdrops are out!

Although it feels quite chilly and there is frost forecast for later in the week, I was much encouraged by what’s going on in the garden. There were three blackbirds bathing in the pond this morning, sparrows and bluetits and great tits all busy at the feeders, and warming up their territory-marking songs, and signs of life everywhere. The first buds on the hazel hedge are beginning to break – always the first in this garden –

bulbs are beginning to show, and the very first flowers are already out!

On the poetry front, too there are new beginnings. I was at the first evnt at the SCottish Writers Centre in Glasgow last week, where, in a relaxed but inspiring talk Ron Butlin said several things about the process of compostion which started my own processes. The first was something that resonated with me, as it’s something I think about a lot:
that poetry is something that happens behind the words.

Perhaps it’s obvious to everyone – but if that’s the case why is there so much shapeless boneless poetry about? Poetry, it seems to me, is as much about shape and flow and pattern as it is about language. Without this you just get a search for ever more quirky or bizarre images and themes, a list of banned images (rememeber the seagulls/shards debate that rampaged last year?) and a poetry that becomes ever more cerebral and remote.

The other was something less comfortable – in summary, that it isn’t possible to write about a subject that you know too well, because you have nowhere to go with it, and nothing to gain from the writing process. It’s made me question a lot of assumptions about what I want to write; it’s not that I think I’m writing the same poems over and over, or the same subjects, but that I’m trying to write about subjects I’ve already over-thought. Poetry might work better if it wasn’t so much a record of where I’ve been, as the first phase of exploring where I’m going. Feels kind of weird – a new way to balance thought and feeling, but interesting, interesting—

Also, I’m delighted and honoured to be able to say that I’ve a poem in the new issue (issue 3) of the elegant and thoughhtful on-line magazine Poetandgeek

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