Show 023: September 2009
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Most of my energy has been taken up with writing my novel but I’ve a also been thinking about a commission I’ve received for National Holocaust Memorial Day in January 2010, where I will be writing a poem an event at the Victoria Theatre in Halifax. It is a great honour to be asked to do this.
Check out what fabulous writer Joolz Denby is currently writing on her MySpace page.
Book reviewThis month’s book is ‘Blade Runner’ under its original title of ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep’ by Philip K Dick, which I read as part of my monthly book group in Headingley where I live. The group read it almost to take us out of our usual reading ‘comfort’ zone.
I read it with great interest. It’s full of ideas about what it means to be human, what we need in our lives to offer us comfort. It’s quite short and made me ask myself some very interesting questions.
I’ve grown up with writing, and we did it for fun as children. When I was sixteen I started to think that this is something I could seriously. I want to write about the everyday, normal people and things which seem unpoetic on the surface but need the poetry to be drawn out of them.
A lot of my earlier poetry was the bad teenage angst kind, or mediocre coming out poems. But now I try to make it more universal. Maybe I didn’t have that at sixteen.
Everyone has a story to tell, and now I’m sharing mine, and other people’s. Writing poetry is how I enter and relate to the world. If I see something interesting on a bus or train I write it as a poem. Poetry is my life; sorry if that sounds pretentious.
For the majority of the poems I write a line will just come to me which I’ll write down. Lines then may often come one by one and they grow organically and build themselves. Then I try to work out what I’m trying to say. I tend to write in free verse.
I read everything that I can get my hands on. Poets that I read seriously are Philip Larkin and Thom Gunn and Thom Gunn is the one that sticks with me. It was startling to me that he could write like that. I then progressed to the Beat Poets. These writers told me It doesn’t have to be grand, it can be normal and urban.
For my new collection I started pulling together the strongest poems. They all seem to be about transiency and trying to find love and the beauty of normality. I’ve got a great editor from the publisher; it’s been a scary experience as I’ve not been used to objective views and suggestions for change in my poems. There are about twenty poems altogether in the collection.
I’ve been lucky getting published in poetry magazines. The first were accepted by Cadaverine and The North, and I have poems coming out in London Magazine and Dreamcatcher. But you have to learn to live with rejection, and to celebrate acceptance.
It seems false to declare yourself a poet, but perhaps I should start being ‘out’ about it.
My advice to new writers is to have confidence in your own work, but take criticism. Read any poetry you can get your hands on. Read three times as much as you write.
Poem of the Month
Sarah Corbett’s ‘Watching the Company of Wolves’ from her collection Other Beasts published by Seren Press.