Often I do not want to write about individual poems or pieces or writing and seem very self-indulgent to spend precious space writing about my own work. I also much prefer poems to be up to the reader in terms of meaning. Of course, sometimes a poem and its meaning is obvious but I prefer to have some ambiguity. Equally, often a poem is so personal, only you as the writer can ever truly have a connection. But that doesn’t and should not stop others reading it and having a connection or understanding of their own.
I think this leads to what I find in my writing and what I have spoken about before, that is the pieces you like, others don’t and the pieces you don’t like, others flock to. I think this should be celebrated in writing and poetry. But inevitable the piece of writing you are pleased as punch with and feel knock it out of the park is not the one other like.
So let’s talk about a recent poem, ‘Self Soothing’. People may notice I write proficiently and quickly, that has always been my preference, I don’t advocate it as the only method or the best method but it suits me. I am not a stranger to editing and you will see on the original poems in my pad, I go back over, make changes, move things about, in fact I often let poems settle and come back to them a few days later. By then the mood and emotion I initially wrote them in has changes and it is good to go back, read and see how you feel about them in a different frame of mind. I see my writing as trying to capture a moment or taking things and put them under a microscope.
I have also touched on where poems come from, I am not going to pretend that it is a process of magic or that they live in the ether and I simply pluck them out of thin air. Often it is a more mechanical process, something someone says or an idea coupled with some kind of wordplay in my head, a couplet or a selection of lines, a rhythm of words that goes round and round.
Self-Soothing is that poems. I struck about how I write and why I write, to me it was like the concept to self-soothing. Predominately self-soothing is seen as a way to calm anxiety and stress and terms of writing, the very act of writing, the processes around creativity, that’s very true. There is for me, almost a nervous energy in the way I write. I have also for some time toyed with there is a link between creativity and mental health, or mental state and mental wellbeing. I also think writing has an almost addictive quality so it seemed appropriate to somehow represent that in the poem. It’s a bit silly to suggest writing is a drug but it does perhaps have its own medicinal outcomes.
So that collection of thoughts was in my mind and then I had the idea of how the poem would look. I can’t really explain this but I can often see in my mind what the poem will look like.
I liked the idea a lot but good ideas don’t always make a good poem. I love to explore ideas in poems and to explore concepts, that is very interesting and I think, very relatable. As I have also mentioned previously, I am never sure if I am writing poetry or poems. I do put thought into construction, appearance and how I want my writing to read but I often know what I want when I start writing it. Although, sometimes you have to go where the writing takes you. But poetry often does not seem the correct term.
So that is ‘Self Soothing’, unlike many of my poems the title was nailed down from the start. There was no going back and looking through the finished piece for a line or phrase and no title to reflect what I was feeling. That was my common approach when I was younger, to have a title which reflected why I had written the poems and what I was thinking of.
I really like a hook in piece of writing, I think the writing process rewarding and cathartic and joining up sentences and words, it forms almost a beat.
The addictive quality of writing has remained with me and that need to write has been explored elsewhere, I have talked in other poems about the nature of it acting as a therapist so this is one of those almost common themes in my writing.
The consequence always of people liking a particular poem is that I am drawn to, well, should I edit it, and can it be better… So now I read the poem and I think, I need to change little bits.
You can read the poem Self Soothing here,