Over the last month, nursing a broken collarbone, I’ve been flexing my brain by writing a piece on poets I go back to, for publication next year, and an OPOI (One Point of Interest) for Sphinx Reviews on Rachel Piercey’s recent pamphlet, Disappointing Alice.
I find that I’m nervous writing ABOUT poetry in a way that I’m not about writing poetry itself. Trying to unpick this, it may be because, while I can never be sure whether the poems I write have any value to anyone else, the process of writing has a crucial value to me, irrespective of the outcome. Writing about poetry is different. I feel very keenly my lack of academic rigour and the great gaps in my reading, think I’m just embarrassing myself. Ach well. I comfort myself with Billy Collins' Introduction to Poetry.
I was also asked to comment on a manuscript being prepared for submission to publishers. Commenting on other people’s poems when they’re assembled into a proto-collection is a privilege and a responsibility. It’s somewhere between proof editing and workshopping but also, more importantly, I think, responding to the overall shape and weight, how it all works together, how it might be a saleable proposition.
In the meantime, I’m inching my way towards my own manuscript, writing poems which seem to be mostly to do with the complexities of ageing – how relationships shift, how there is a sort of falling away which exposes the detritus of a life. They currently feature carnivorous plants, talking clocks, theft and flying pigs. That most useless of emotions, guilt, seems to figure quite prominently.
And I’m looking forward to Poetry in Aldeburgh, where I’ll be reading on the Friday, along with Oliver Comins, Alexandra Davis and Charlotte Gann and fighting off the seagulls as I eat chips on the beach.
Sophie Herxheimer's 60 Lovers to Make & Do (Henningham Family Press); In Their Own Words ed. Helen Ivory and George Szirtes (Salt); and The Anxiety of Influence by Harold Bloom (OUP)