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Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

There are drawers I don’t open

Stuffed with ancient bills and

Outdated bank statements.

But to throw them away

I risk finding

That photo of us

lying on the grass

in a park

in Paris.

So there are drawers I don’t open.

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As I’ve mentioned before, I’m quite careful about not posting my writing on the blog, as I don’t want to scupper my chances if I want to get a short story published in the future. However, I can probably unequivocally say that I am NOT a poet. I love poetry, but I’m unable to write it well.

Thanks to the Open University poetry assignments, I have a homeless poem which I don’t think will be accepted anywhere for publishing unless the literary world develops a sudden penchant for slightly childish poetry. My other two efforts have been (very generously) accepted over at The Fiction Shelf, which is launching soon (go and submit your stories and poems to them, I think it’s going to be a great site).

So now, without further ado, here is a poem by my own non-poetic hands.

The Explorer

I dug a hole so I could see

a piece of earth unviewed.

I climbed up high and breathed in deep

and hoped that air was new.

I wrote a song so wild and free

which none had heard before.

And when I swim, my eyes are wide,

they sting to see new shores.

In the snow, my feet are first

to step out through the door.

And sometimes I can dream a world

where none have been before.

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I must admit, the subject I chose for one of my poems for the poetry TMA caused me to sit on my sofa, laptop on me knee, sobbing my heart out for hours. We do it to ourselves, don’t we?

I nearly didn’t write it.

“I’ve started to write a poem about something, for my next assignment. And when I was writing the initial draft, I just couldn’t stop crying. And I thought… well, how arbitrary can you be when you’re editing if the subject means that much to you? It would be impossible. And there’s no guarantee others will relate to the subject matter, if it’s so emotive to the author. You can’t write about it clearly, surely?” I said to a colleague, Poetry Guy (swoon).

“But…” he paused, thinking. “But that’s what I think poetry is. For me, a poem is completely from the heart. It doesn’t matter whether it rhymes, or whether it’s in iambic pentameter… if it contains a little piece of the author’s heart, it’s a poem.”

(swoon, slobber, faint, etc).

So I wrote the poem. And gosh, it was hard. And gosh, I can’t show it to anyone I know, except very close people (not even Poetry Guy has seen it, although I think he deserves to).

I showed it to my parents and it made them cry. I felt a little proud. It can’t be that bad, right? 🙂

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Poetry Thoughts

I loved the opportunity to read poetry and learn about the mechanics of it. I love the way that a poem is a whole: every aspect of the poem contributes to the meaning – line length, number of lines, word choices, word sounds, rhyming (or not), assonance, enjambment, syllable count. Every single choice made by the writer is made for a reason. I think that is great.

But the BRB didn’t explain that.

In my opinion, the BRB barely even touched on the mechanics of poetry, or its importance. I understand that poetry is hard to teach and hard to explain, but the BRB didn’t even try.

The advice broadly shared between the A215 students was to read Stephen Fry’s The Ode Less Travelled. It’s a good book… or, the first half of it is. I didn’t finish it.

I love poetry. But I wasn’t ready to write any: I didn’t have the right.

It’s a beautiful, complex and exciting art form, which I would recommend learning. But once you start to understand the mechanics at the heart of your favourite poems, you’ll start to realise how little you know.

And you need to break through that barrier by acquiring more knowledge, before you can go on to write poetry.

So I’ve got a theory:

There are two groups of people who can write poetry:

1) Those who understand thoroughly how poetry works: rhyme, metre, form. They know how to break the rules, and they can.

2) Those who have absolutely no idea how poetry works, and write from the heart.

The third group, in which I remain, are those who know a little about the mechanics, but not enough to throughly understand. We develop writers’ block as soon as the suggestion of writing a poem is bandied about in front of us. After all, you can’t write an essay on philosophy in French, if the only thing you know how to say is “one beer, please.”

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