Monday, August 06, 2007

Random thoughts

Well, it's August now. My book is certainly selling to friends, though now I've got to persuade some people to write their Amazon reviews as promised...

I've been reading some interesting poetry. Robert Shepherd in particular, whose big Twentieth Century Blues poem-serial I've never read a big bulk of. There's a lot of sexual politics in his poetry, which is not something I'd noticed much before, and the sex in his poetry always seems to concentrate on the seedy side. He's trying in his verse for what he calls a "poetry of saying", something akin to a poem which unfolds its meanings in front of you as you read, as you put your own voice into it. He opposes this to a poetry of the said, where the meaning is already on the page ready to be obtained: that's how he characterises the Movement poets, and most of the mainstream.

There is a lot of truth in this, though it's never the whole story. No poetry is entirely "said", even Philip Larkin and co., and I think there are lots of poets who are characterised as "mainstream" who are much more open to "saying."

I try in my own poetry to find out what is/can be said during the writing. I very rarely decide what I'm going to say before writing these days. In fact, it's difficult to do that anyway when you're making poetry from found material, as I have been doing; the found material determine the content, and whether it works or not. The recent sonnets have used material from adverts, streets signs, newspaper dating columns... but I recently stopped doing one half way through because I thought I was merely repeating myself.

I think I'm probably not going to write much this month, which is no bad thing. I have several things to prepare, in particular a new job at HMP Whatton, where I am going to be the writer-in-residence. This is quite a challenge - to do creative writing with prisoners - and I'm sure it's goiong to affect my writing in exciting new ways. But it's scary too; I've got the job for 18 months.

I met the sister of Terry Eagleton, Annie, recently at Earth cafe, where she bought a copy of the book. Maybe I should make more of these links with famous people...

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