I've not been much around computers this week, what with starting teaching next week. I haven't been doing much in the way of writing either, not since a poem what I wrote called "Every Planet Has A North." But I've been doing a little thinking, in particular about my next book. I have given it a title now; a very provisional title, but a title nevertheless.
It's something I learnt from a week at Totleigh Barton with Sheila Murphy and Rupert Loydell: don't just think in terms of individual poems, think in terms of books, or collections of poems. So many of us just write lots of poems then put them together in a book when we've got enough. It worked for my last book, though there's a few poems that didn't get in that didn't really fit with the feel of that book that were still good poems. But I think for the next one, I'm already beginning to shape the idea of the book, so that when I have enough, I can present a package that works, rather than one that has to be found.
Ron Silliman and others write what he calls the "longpoem": the poem that goes on and over several books, like the Cantos, or in his case it's the Alphabet. I don't think I'm capable of that kind of organisation; but I think I can try and see some general shapes. For instance, there are a lot of poems that involve travel in some ways: trips to Prague and South Africa, one that comes from Barcelona. Even the poem "The Westerner" about a man I knew who wrote Westerns and had never visited America is a kind of mental journey. Which brings me back, of course, to "Every Planet Has A North", a poem sort of set in space.
Planning the next book, even in the general terms in which I'm doing so at the moment, does give me the opportunity to look a little closer at what I'm writing, to see what it is that interests me, where I might be going. At the moment it's called "Travelator"; but watch this space; that title might well change yet.