Swans on the canal in Leicester, taken as I cycled home from work.
It is six months since my second full collection of poems, The Great Animator, was published. As with my first collection, I have been very fortunate to receive some very favourable reviews, one recently coming out in The North and the latest in the excellent Interpreter’s House magazine. I haven’t seen a copy yet but gather that the reviewer, Faber author and poet Richard Skinner, has been very generous in his praise.
Unlike the situation when I began my last collection, I didn’t have many poems left over this time. There was one piece that appeared in The Rialto magazine that my publisher wasn’t too keen on. I left it out of the last book but still like it and have revised with his comments in mind. Slowly, my new file of work in progress has begun to grow. Every time I draft a new piece or revise a poem that might have promise, I add it to the word document titled ‘New’ .
I wrote a series of myths and legends poems that initially excited me. I’m now less keen on them, and have shelved them for the time being. These corrupted or adapted Celtic myths, and were both an attempt to simultaneously reflect the modern world (its wars, gender, race and power politics) and to escape from it. I’ve found that even if something doesn’t work out the way I would like and achieve a standard I would like to publish, at the very least I will have been exercising and practising my writing skills, ready for the time when a good idea, phrase or line comes along and begins to form itself into a poem.
I’ve been writing a lot less than I used too, having a new puppy in the house and various other commitments, but I’m more relaxed than I was a couple of months ago when I wondered if I had anything interesting to write. I’m happy to trust the process; to enjoy writing for its own sake, and remember that, as Kathleen Jamie says ‘ Things will start to drip into my mind. You have to have faith in that process. Having times of emptiness is part of it.’
You can read more from my collection of poet’s quotes here.