Tuesday, 3 April 2007
And as a Poet, I'M One!!
An idiot, that is.
When I did my MA in creative writing I opted to do the poetry module for my project (with Jeremy Hooker)... Why? because I knew I didn't have a fucking clue, and I wanted to change that.
Unfortunately I was the only person who put his name down, so I ended up doing short-stories (no time for a novel). That was not a challenge, but there you go.
But the difference between me and almost all the neophyte writers I meet is I'm willing to say, I'm a joke as a poet.
I CAN (very occasionally) put together something which isn't quite prose and the odd editor might like. I've had three poems in small(ish) anthologies and I actually won a first prize for a very unusual poem called "Oral Examination"
I get so far with a poem and any changes I make are as likely to make the poem worse as make it better. Nine out of ten poems I read mean absolutely nothing to me, either leave me cold or go over my head. i don't understand why this line break "works", that doesn't. When a better poet says, that LB there would be better here I say "Why?" and the answer never convinces me. I see loads of "poems" that just look like prose arbitrarily line-breaked.
I have not been IMMERSED.
So what do I do?
Well, as the man said, I have to start to try and understand what has already been discovered. So I've scoured my bookshelves for all the poetry books, went out yesterday and spent a hundred quid on yet more and I've also bought a few books on understanding poetry, from a "Teach Yourself" and "Poetry, the Basics" to Stephen Fry's "The Ode Less Travelled", another called The Poetry Reader's Toolkit, Ruth Padel's 52 Ways to Look at a Poem, and "Reading Poetry, an Introduction" (Furniss & Bath)
And I have all these famous-name poets to read, the comp winners... I've joined The Poetry Society, subscribed to a couple of mags... and, and, and,
I'm writing "poetry" every day.
I am quite sure I'm crap. Even when I like one of my poems (and it has been known) I know it isn't the kind of "poetry" that will be remembered next week, never mind in twenty years time
But in two years time, when I have read all these poetry books three times, when I have written 700-800 "poems", entered a few dozen comps, had a few hundred rejections and maybe 20 hand-written comments, then, THEN, I might be creeping towards having half an idea of how to stop being a beginner-poet.
Why not keep things simple? Take it easy, keep churning out short-stories and placing them?
Why not take notice of that warning sign there?
Because I want to be a better writer. This is something I know I'm not good at.
But if I live long enough, I WILL be.
But, right now, call me "idiot".
I won't mind....