I have had a couple of good writing days, and reading days. I can only write for an hour, uninhibitedly, and then my head gets fuzzy. I then tend to leave what I've written for a while and come back to it with a more critical, editorial appraisal. All the poems I have written, really, feel like a dress rehearsal for the real thing, the big poem on the horizon (or maybe small, preferably small) that sings out and says what I want to say.
There are a couple of exceptions to this - just two or three poems that are fully formed, unbreakable things; objects almost. They have a certainty about them. But the rest are warmings-up, practices, half formed broken boned things with a pulse or a streak of life, passable enough, even hopefully pleasurable or entertaining to some readers, but just not as good and true as I want them to be.
I wonder if other poets feel like this. I know I rush too much to an end or flourish to my poems, treating them like a bit of copy to go into the newspaper. But it is hard to let them drift and sink, to not control them.
I was reading an interview with Alice Oswald and she listens to her poems until she can hear them before committing them to paper, as if she is simply receiving and transmitting what is already there.
This feeling of my poems being a warm-up or practice or dress rehearsal for the real-thing is a peculiarly human mode of thinking. It makes me think about the human striving to know what, if anything, occurs after death - the big event - and, I spose, the 'meaning of life'. For me, the meaning of life, in a spiritual sense, lies in the living and the searching, not the certainty at the end. Perhaps its the same with writing; the true joy and meaning lies in the endeavour, in the dress rehearsals, the drafts that keep pouring from our pens, in the hope that one day the right words will come in the right order.


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