Last autumn term, I took part in Matthew Caley’s Poetry School course, 'Technique [How to Discover or Disown It]'. Matthew is nothing if not provocative and pushed us to expand our practice and to reflect upon it. It included writing a sort of manifesto. Here's mine - or rather, here's mine at the moment:
My poems grow out of words snagged on the branch of a tree fallen into running water, like a shredded plastic bag, a thin one, not a bag for life. I have to get down to the water’s edge, lean over and hook up the bag to see what it is, what it holds, if anything – dog dirt, body parts, a couple of receipts, sandwich container with left-over crusts, nothing – and who chucked it. [The Friends of Lincoln’s Inn have been in touch to ask where we got the fancy-capped Seven Dials rubbish bins, as they are plagued by crows and squirrels emptying the open-topped bins in the Fields]. I have to think about it for a bit or rather it has to think about me, intrusive thoughts when I’m watching telly, shopping and, most inconveniently and often, when I’m reading or listening to someone else’s poems. My poems are me playing with sound. Their taste and mouthfeel are as important to me as any idea that might emerge in them. They make me laugh, not always in an admirable way. Stories, incidents are their framework, usually those with inherent questions. I don’t know where I’m going and quite often I don’t know where I’ve been. Perhaps I’m a squirrel, the Disney rat of the urban green [but not a crow – too Hughes-ish. I don’t have the eyebrows].
I haven’t been submitting a great deal recently as I’m trying focus on writing. It’s slow going. So I was very pleased to have two poems on the Ink, Sweat and Tears website last month, a mourning one and one as part of their 12 days of Christmas collection.
Paul Stephenson's Hard Drive (Carcanet) and Charlie Baylis's a fondness for the colour green (Broken Sleep Books)