HOW I WRITE
What an opportunity to contribute to Janice and Dónall’s new blog, with “no pressure and no deadline”! Sometimes people have indeed asked how do I write a poem. A question for which I have had no ready answer, except to say that when an idea pops into my head, I write it down. No pressure, but the first morning after receiving the invitation, I woke up and grabbed a sheaf of scrap paper – mostly the backs of old envelopes – and wrote down roughly what follows.
In my head it seems that I am always speaking to myself, building word pictures, looking for allusions, searching for similes, words tumbling over themselves. Such trains of thought are frequently evanescent, they fade as a dream fades on waking – unless there is pen and paper to hand. Which is exactly what is happening to these present thoughts which I am writing down while they are fresh and new. If I do not write them down, they may disappear, floating away downstream to wherever forgotten thoughts go to, leaving no trace. In trying to describe what happens when I write, I am attempting to make concrete that which may not be something that can be made concrete; in sculpting my thoughts into some semblance of solidity I may be manufacturing a chimera. Is this truly how my thought processes and writing work in practice, or am I making solid a fantasy? Perhaps everybody thinks in this way, but how am I to tell? Perhaps I am a muddle-headed romantic. Perhaps I have been fooling myself that my thoughts and my writings are of some significance when in fact they are the empty droolings of a literary naif. Here begin to crowd in the anxieties, the self-defeating worries that these musings – or more importantly the verses, the stories, the poems that I write – are of little interest, of no merit. Why should anyone wish to read them? Other writers, other poets, I suppose, may feel this way some of the time. Or most of the time. But we still plough on, bringing our words into the lives of others.
And here, gentle reader, I can vow solemnly to you that the preceding paragraph has turned out to be almost exactly as I set it down early that morning. A real life demonstration of how it’s done …
Peter Ualrig Kennedy is the author of Songs for a Daughter and the lead organiser at POETRY WIVENHOE http://poetrywivenhoe.org
This is a blog written by Dempsey & Windle poets about their inspiration for writing poetry