Monday, 5 April 2010

P is for poem

I hope anyone who knows me in person is sitting down as this may come as a shock. Yes, I know I'm always the one who says "I don't do poetry". It's not that I don't like poetry. I love reading it or hearing it spoken aloud. I just have no concept of how to write it. When an idea comes to me, my first thought is how to make it into a story. Not a poem, song, novel or article, but a story. That feels the most natural form for my writing to take.

In my horsey phase, twenty years ago, I confess I wrote a little ditty for the riding school's magazine. But it's been lost in the mists of a steaming pile of horse manure, and I'm sure Carol Ann Duffy is very relieved about that. Any other attempts to write poems have been brief. Two lines long, on average, before I think "Oh, this is too hard" and give up. Until...

Recently I had a rather horrible day. I went to bed with a single thought going round and round in my head. I remember thinking that if I was someone who wrote poetry, this was exactly the kind of thing I could make into a poem. Through continuing to play with the idea on paper the words somehow arranged themselves into what looked like a verse of four lines. I was quite pleased. But where did I go next?

The following day I received Liane Carter's email containing her guest post (below). Her words about throwing the truth onto the page were what I needed to push me onwards. To make progress with my poem I saw I had to go deeper into the idea and explore the emotion behind it. I kept on adding a couple of lines here and there. By last weekend I'd reached four verses. I felt like I had said what I wanted to say. Gosh. I had written a poem. It was a satisfying feeling, and a bit of a surprise.
Perhaps we all have mental blocks about certain things that we think we cannot do. But sometimes it's good just to try. Just to see.

I enjoyed writing my poem. Maybe I'll write another. You know... in twenty years or so.


Old Kitty said...


Awwwww good for you for writing poetry! And great that you just went for it and enjoyed writing it and loved it too! I hope you share it with us here! :-)And hopefully not in 20 years or so!

I didn't think I'd enjoy writing poetry until I completed a section on it with my writing course. It is a discipline like no other - it forced me to be very focused and very choosy about the words I use to convey the emotions I wanted to convey. I found it extremely challenging and it gave me a lot of headaches but when I submitted my attempts and got really good feedback from my tutor, it was a feeling like no other!

Take care

Joanne Fox said...

It is challenging, yes. I think for me it's a matter of being in the right frame of mind to have a go. Well done on receiving good feedback on yours, Old Kitty. Bet you were so chuffed. x

Teresa Ashby said...

I used to write loads of poetry - usually when I was feeling miserable so the poems were usually pretty grim. Glad you enjoyed writing yours.

I've awarded you a Beautiful Bloggers award, details on my blog.

Joanne Fox said...

Thanks Teresa - I've given it pride of place on the right!.

Joanna said...

I agree that you need to be in just the right frame of mind. My humorous poems work better than my more sorrowful ones, and are very therapeutic and satisfying, especially when I've been taking myself too seriously. There's something about the precise form that is almost joyfully exacting. I should write them more often, but I am addicted to the short story these days, I feel.

HelenMHunt said...

I also 'don't do' poetry, but every now and then a poem will just scream to be let out, so I have to write it.

Sandra Patterson said...

I love writing poems because of all writing forms it is the most free from constraint "Throwing the truth onto the page" is a great expression, and so true. For me, the best poems are the ones which do that - express a flash of insight in a unique and personal way.

Joanne Fox said...

The funny thing is that now I've written one poem I find myself with ideas for several more. It's kind of opened the floodgates. So much to write and so few hours in which to do it.