“You’re a dancer, well I’m a spy,
It’s so beautiful to see you lie…”
Years & Years; Ties
I feel like I should set out some kind of mission statement for this blog, but in all honesty, I’m not sure what it’s going to cover.
Primarily, books, and stuff about writing, and thoughts about writing from a writer who shouldn’t be calling himself a writer yet (that’s me). The ‘dancer and the spy’ of the title is from the quote above. It has no significance to the blog as such, but it’s a lovely phrase, and Years & Years are very good.
I was thinking about a piece on The Guardian the other day, where famous writers and journalists talked about what they’d be reading this summer. I read it last year as well, trying to find something to fill the space before university, and using books to fill the void a little bit. They didn’t do a great job, if I’m honest, but it’s very interesting reading what others read. I considered my own list, and I considered something that I’d posted on Instagram a few days ago.
“Between Two Books”, the Florence + the Machine book club, asked people to post pictures of what they’d be reading over the summer. I only had very vague ideas, but they were (1) to read more non fiction (2) to read Kate Tempest’s first poetry collection ‘Everything Speaks in Its Own Way’ and to explore more poetry (3) to read something from a new genre (4) to finish something (I’m thinking Watchmen – not to be confused with Lee’s Go Set a Watchman, which I don’t plan to read) and (5) to read Disclaimer, by Renee Knight.
Out of these, (2) is of a particular interest to me. Kate Tempest’s poetry and music fascinates me, and her poetry ranges from social commentary (something which works incredibly well in her music, and worked incredibly well with the Glastonbury crowd this year) to poems about romance and life, that are always straight-talking and refreshingly honest. It shows poetry can be beautiful without the metaphors, and words we use every day can be beautiful in themselves. “Hold Your Own” is a near-perfect collection of poems, and “Brand New Ancients” is a very impressive narrative poem.
Tempest has changed the way I write poetry too. Just before I read her work, I tried to write a poem that didn’t conform to structure, and was more focussed on speaking about issues I wanted to, in a witty way. My friend likened the result to a slam poem. With this seed in my head, I then read Kate Tempest, and her approach to poetry combined perfectly. I’m now much more focussed on rhyme and rhythm, and much more interested in writing in a way designed to be spoken. Most of my poetry is driven to this – and I’ve written even more. I turn out a ridiculous amount of poetry, but that’s more because I tend to write then move on, rather than fine tuning just one piece to figure out what I want to say. Maybe I’d be a better poet if I did that.
But because I turn out more poetry, I seem to have turned out a bit too much. So what did I do? Write a poem about it.
“Word fatigue” talks about how I’d been turning “everything into poetry” and that “my emotional history becomes a pit that’s been excavated”. The smaller feelings are “expanded” in order to just create something. It’s draining. Part of this, I think, is that Kate Tempest is currently my only real poetry inspiration. I love TS Eliot. But he’s not an influence. I need to read more of him anyway, and more of other poets. I need to expand, to play around with style and form, and language. To see how others do it and to how they work with me.
The other thing I must shamefully admit, is that I wrote poetry on the same keyboard that wrote this. I type it. Which means the structure, the rigidity of thought, is already there. It can’t be free and all over the page – I can’t experiment with ideas for lines. One has to replace another, mostly. I also think it might help write about things that matter to me, and that I feel, rather than just looking for something to write about.
So there’s two main targets for the summer. I need to read the rest of Tempest (until her novel comes out next year!) and with that read more poetry. I then need to write poetry – but experiment with it.
And that’s what this blog will be really. Me wittering on about writing, about books, sometimes music. And this will probably gather dust eventually, but, it might be fun while I remember.
I’ll leave you (imaginary reader, hello) with this. It’s slightly different to how I remember it, but the message stuck with me ever since I saw it. And then I chose to ignore it anyway.