It’s taken me three months but I’m back!
And I did question whether I would come back to this blog, whether I actually had things to say or the desire to share them with my no-doubt vast audience. Think of me as Adele, hesitating before making 25. Except, nothing like that.
This blog post follows on from a conversation I was having last night. Last night, I did my third reading of poetry at an event my university holds every month. I did the first this time last year, the 19th March apparently, and the second in October. The first time, I had poetry I’d written for a fair few years to pick from, and I wanted to share the very best of what I’d written. That is still, to this day, my best and happiest performance, for a number of reasons. But at the second reading, I also had a good selection to pick from. My poetry had progressed a lot, in some ways it had become more lyrical, and there was a much bigger emphasis on spoken word poetry. I was excited to share the results of that, and it went down very well.
So when I signed up to yesterday’s reading, I was at odds. I’d written more poetry – a small collection dedicated to one theme (more on this soon, I promise!), and I’m currently veering towards more sentimental poetry that focusses on how poetry is on the page. I’ve been experimenting with form and structure – which are hard things to convey when reading aloud. The focus on written poetry, and also having a number of poems submitted for various competitions that I didn’t want to read, I was left with a slightly smaller choice. I, essentially, wasn’t sure what I wanted to convey. The poems I picked were, for the first time, very recent, some only a few weeks old. They were gentler, slower, quieter poems. But reading them felt like I was reading the equivalent of a poetry-limbo. I was reading because I had decided to read – but had decided without any real purpose or need to show what my poetry was doing. I ended up showing the poetry between Poetry, which tends to be more emotional, and as a result I read three very sentimental poems.
This is fine, and I’m happy with my choices and I’m very happy with the poems. I would be proud to show them and share them, and I was. But I still couldn’t shake the feeling that I’m between-poetry. That I was reading between-poetry. (Maybe, on a side note, that’s part of the reason that this blog has fallen quiet. My interest and dedication to poetry has slumped a little bit, and it’s not really going in a specific direction.)
Also interestingly, I didn’t feel my poetry *needed* direction until recently. I reached what felt like a natural end point, a point to stop and look back and do stuff with the vast number of poems I’d written. That’s in progress – but it was from that point that I wanted to start writing ABOUT things. I wondered whether that was possible, because previously I’d conceived of poetry as an in the moment, off the mark, reaction. I was against endlessly redrafting for this reason. But now I seek purpose, and I will redraft. I won’t write ten poems trying to figure out one thing, I’ll just change the one poem til it says it. And I suppose it’s in moments like this that I realise how far my poetry has come along.
But the conversation that I had last night made me realise for sure that I had nothing, really, to say. I had no new style to showcase. That I need to find a new style. Reading poetry will help with this, and I haven’t done that for a while. Now I know what I need, and want, to do, I can focus on it, and I can bring myself back to poetry. I can make, as it were, Poetry. (I use the word ‘make’ not ‘write’ because it does feel like I am creating something.)
I have a few thoughts floating around of things I want to try and capture, whether they be characters or moments. I’m just not sure how best to do this yet. And I don’t know if that will be my focus – I may end up discovering theme through style, rather than starting with a theme. I don’t even know if they’re going to HAVE a theme.
And that brings me back to this blog – because this was designed to explain and explore my writing process, and I thought I would share the fact that I’m at this pause. I’m going to share one of my pause poems below, and at some point I will write a post about the redrafting process. One of my pause poems (Pause Poems? pause-poems?), was altered before I read it aloud because I felt like reading it aloud didn’t serve it as well as reading it on the page. (There’s a whole argument there about what poetry should do, whether it should work on both or if it’s ‘allowed’ to work as either read or spoken. And what about listening? That’s something that is implicit in all my poetry – it should be easy to listen to.) I’ll share that redrafting, and thoughts on why I changed things, at a later date. If I get round to it.
But hopefully, this is the end of my poetry pause. This is, if nothing else, the marker for the beginning of the rise out of it. The first word after the caesura.
I’m going to leave you with this…
On a thousand screens, across the tiny dark room,
There’s a pixelated blue.
Every one of them shows you.
They hold close ups of your face,
Hands resting by your side,
And a glint in your eyes that’s you
But not a you I recognise.
And there’s strings up from the screen
But it looks like they’re suspended.
You might have brushed past me already.
I could look you in the eye
as someone else
And feel mended.
Cos the problem is
The you on the screens in the art installation
Isn’t you next to me, your mind full of flirtation.
And neither are the you that you are.
I don’t know where you went but now you’re