Northants Writers Ink had an open evening yesterday, so I went along to hear poet John Greening talk about and read some of his work. Writing poetry is a new thing for me, so this was a welcome opportunity to get close to someone who knows how to do it. Read about him here.
It was a lovely, relaxed evening. John is one of the most un-poety poets I've ever come across. I bought one of his books, To the War Poets, on the back of which a reviewer writes that he is 'a serious (but never excessively solemn) poet, who cares about both 'facts' and ideas and makes his poetry out of the interpenetration of the two'. I couldn't have put it better.
Speaking to him after his presentation, he said that very often when he sits down to write, the end product isn't what he thought it was going to be. You might think you've got an idea for a few verses on, say, windmills, but then you find you've written an ode to your grandmother!
He talked about form and structure, too, with particular emphasis on the sonnet. This is something I need to explore, I think, if I'm ever going to produce anything worthwhile. Mind you, he did also say that the pleasure comes from the writing, from finding that perfect word, whether or not it's ever going to be read. I shall take comfort from that.
In the meantime, I am involved in a project for which I have said I will write a poem called 'Bag For Life.' I have to start somewhere!
'Let her have time, and silence,
enough paper to make mistakes and go on.'
from 'The Poet' by Jane Hirshfield