To think or not to think?

Ah well, I’ve just started the new year of my course, and I’ve seen the course materials and the assessment requirements, so anxiety is setting in big time.  I decided to change my primary genre this year from fiction to poetry, ‘cos basically I like writing poetry more. Besides, it takes me ages to think of plots for stories but I can write a poem on practically anything you throw at me (it might not be a good poem, but it’ll be a poem – I give you ‘ode to my knickers‘…)

I do have the odd existential crisis around poetry though. I wonder what its for. Am I just writing it to show how jolly clever I am?  To share a mood, an emotion? How my brain works in weird ways? (Certainly that last one is apparent in much of my work!)

I am thrown by some of the comments at my writers group too. I am one of only a few poets there, and some of the aspiring writers just don’t get poetry – ‘if it doesn’t rhyme it’s not a poem and you are not a poet’ was one memorable comment.  And yes, I know, much as I love ’em all, they are heathens…. 😉

Of course, I can’t agree with that at all, I know it’s not correct. I read a lot of poetry both modern and classic and enjoy the free-verse and rhymes equally, as long as they connect with me in some way –  make me think, bring a tear, make me laugh. And I love layers to unpeel, deeper meanings to uncover, thought provoking ideas, and beautiful use of language.

However, I have to agree, that for many people a quick ditty that doesn’t require analysis is the only poetry they understand and therefore, enjoy.  For instance, who doesn’t like Pam Ayres and her ‘I wish I’d looked after me teeth!’, a poem many of us can identify with I’m sure.

On any creative writing course I doubt very much that this would be described as ‘good’ poetry, and I imagine I wouldn’t get a particularly high mark if I chose to submit something along those lines as part of an assessment. But hey, it makes us laugh, we understand it and empathise, and with it’s tumpty-tumbness, it’s memorable.  Shouldn’t we appreciate that just as much?

But as I said, this was a brief crisis which has now been sat on.  I work hard to write poems that require some reading between the lines.  I like to find rhythm where there was none, and to play with words, spending hours finding the one that’s just right in that particular line making it delicious and dripping with meaning. I don’t often get that right of course, and some might say it’s not worth the effort, but I enjoy the process.  And yes, I’m quietly pleased with myself when the whole thing comes together.

Last week I read an allegoric poem at the writers group which I was really pleased with, and the best they could say was ‘it’s good’ and ‘to the point’. I really wished they had had the time to check it out a bit further, given it just a little more thought. But in this world of rush and instant gratification perhaps allegory and metaphor are too time consuming and are a bit too much like hard work, so I’ll take the approval, albeit for what I consider to be, the wrong reasons. Of course, it might just be that the allegory is all in my head. At what point does it become clear to everyone I wonder? Its ok to have a blanket of layers but I guess it doesn’t need a whole bloomin’ duvet!

Oh dear, I fear all this studying is turning me into a bit of a thinker! I’ll keep on doing what I’m doing and work towards improving and expanding my writing and my thoughtiness… (and perhaps, my vocabulary!)  🙂