Poems from nowhere and what to do while you wait for them.

I was very pleased that a new sequence of poems about my time as a nurse arrived the other evening. It was one of those occasions when I began to write without really knowing where the writing was going. These are the poems I love best; the ones that seem to know something I don’t and to spend this knowledge as they unfold, leaving me empty at the end. I am grateful for the gift of them and know that this happens only rarely. I sometimes forget that this happens and don’t think I’ll ever write a poem again.

Until next time a poem arrives in this way, I’ll intermittently practice and play with words. Some poems come from the edge of consciousness – the focus you bring when you begin to write means you are barely aware of writing them.

Poems also get written when I try to more consciously make them, and this will sometimes be ‘successful.’  By writing and reading I will hopefully keep alert to sound and immersed in language, a place where I am a humble guest.


  1. Flow is “an altered state in which time seems to stop and writing flows through easily”. It’s like being “in the zone”. I hadn’t realised that it had been so heavily studied by psychologists, but I guess it’s not surprizing given that it’s relevant to several sports and arts. Apparently, rituals, silencing the inner critic, and accepting that one’s only writing a draft may all assist in entering a flow state. Also the usual preparations for creativity apply – fill yourself up with data (or emotion, or memories) then take a break to let things gestate. Exercises to encourage imagery help too.


  2. I think this is one of those questions that logical positivists delighted in. In fact, it’s so good I reckon I shall have to do a post of my own on imagination and memory. ‘Cos poems that come from nowhere don’t. Though they turn up unexpectedly, like prodigal children or forgotten friends or surprise birthday treats, you’ve been cleaning the house and rehearsing your welcome, in your sleep, for years. But you knew that anyway. Thanks for your blog…one of life’s myriad pleasures xx


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