Over the last few days I’ve gone to bed telling myself that I’ll definitely start free-writing around those snagged images and fragments in my brain tomorrow. Perhaps it’s something about a canal trip, but, you know, how we each experience the same thing differently. Well, tomorrow is here and I’ve had my eyes tested, sorted out getting my mum’s storm-tossed tv aerial fixed, hung up the washing, shopped, had lunch and now I’m writing this. I don’t know why I find it so difficult just to sit down with a pencil and paper and write unfettered rubbish for 30 minutes or so, without which I’m unlikely to find out what it actually is I need to write about next. It's not that anyone sees this free-writing. It's entirely exploratory. I suppose what holds me back from each new foray is a reluctance to commit. As long as I just let the images and notions float around they continue to have the potential to be something (whisper it) special - the best thing I've ever written even. There's no need to face up to their, more likely, potential to be crushingly banal.
So far this year I’ve written three poems which, for me at least, continue to breathe some time on but it’s been over a month since I tried anything new and I’m all the grumpier for this poetry slump. I tell myself that as long as I’m doing something poetry-related then it’s OK but there’s no substitute for writing, especially that first hard and dirty breaking of new ground. Ach well, tomorrow....
At the end of last month I went up to the Verve Poetry Festival in Birmingham and read as part of the Emma Press Showcase with Sascha Aurora Akhtar, Conor Cleary and Maarja Pärtna. It was a treat to hear their work, especially the poem Maarja read in its original Estonian and then in the translation which appears in her collection. Later this month I’ll be reading at the Magma Poetry Competition event, having been commended in the Editors' Prize and at the launch of the Culture Matters' anthology, Witches, Warriors and Workers. It’s always satisfying to be included in an anthology, to be invited to a party of poets. I was particularly pleased to hear that I'll have a poem included in the anthology, due out this summer, which draws on the lovely on-line project Places of Poetry.
Mimi Khalvati's Afterwardness (Carcanet); Caroline Bird's The Air Year (Carcanet); Roger Robinson's A Portable Paradise; Emma Simon's The Odds (Smith Doorstep); and Sean Hewitt's Lantern (Offord Road Books)