Saturday, 20 September 2014

Where do poems come from?

Working draft
I'm sure I've spoken about where poems come from before but something happened this morning which made me think about it again and to share it with you.

I was reading an article in acumen  79 by Dannie Abse entitled Poet in a White Coat when a line suddenly hit me and I stopped reading. The line was about the German poet Rainer Marie Rilke who 'related how he would worry about a piece of soap left behind in his hotel lest it become lonely!' Wow! I understood this.....because some years ago I wrote a poem about something similar! It is somewhere written in pen on a sheet of yellow paper, probably buried under magazines under the coffee table (see I even remember where it is....hopefully). Anyway, I was amazed someone else thought about these same strange things.

Having read the line I immediate had to write. So I left the article which I hadn't finished and grabbed my notebook. Just from that one line came the bones of a poem. And ta dah! I'm going to share it with you. Written very quickly with an even quicker edit this is how it is now. The last two lines took me the longest and were re-written several times. (I admit I edited a little more as I typed it up to show here. There is more still to do!)

Of Things Left Behind

The strand of hair on the dressing table,
a flake of skin on the bed sheet,
the lone banana meant for the lunch box,
a garden cutting going solo on the lawn.

The crumb brushed absently away,
the last square of chocolate in its foil,
the one cup draining in the kitchen,
the bulbous tear hanging from the tap.

The lone sock in the washing drum,
the book discarded now its read,
one flower in the dead heads,
a single item in the rubbish bin.

I wonder about the loneliness
of all those things left behind,
abandoned to the silence,

parted from others of their kind.

(©Heather Walker 2014)

When people know I write poetry they usually ask me two questions - what do I write? and have you had anything published?

Thinking about the last two poems I've written (before this morning's effort), one was written about something I observed while I was sitting in the garden and the other went right back to the time I was in my late teens doing something I didn't want to do and wishing! Why I went back to that time I don't even know. It was a stray thought. 

So, inspirations comes from everywhere. Something will happen, like the line I read this morning, and I will have to write. Next time it might be a picture, something overheard, music, an experience (mine or someone elses), a prompt from a book or workshop. I never know what my next poem will be about. I don't write only about nature or love. To me there is nothing off limits, even the most terrible things in life. Poetry can be comforting, funny, clever, disturbing and everything in between. If it causes a reaction in you, it is doing its job. Like art and music, writing is to be experienced, sometimes on many levels. It is also a personal thing and you will bring those experiences with you when you read.

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