I have been toying with the idea of writing some ‘proper’ blog articles, there is so much going on at present, so much that people refuse to accept or understand, I felt it was a good time to talk about some of the discussion based upon my personal and professional experience. But I am reluctant to expand the Boy Behind the Glasses into some kind of full on politicised blog. I just want to keep this as an archiving project and to be fair, there is enough ego and self-importance in my writing and if you must know my politics and views by now. But if you people wanted me to, I could be persuaded!
It is tempting thought isn’t it, the need to have a voice and be heard, in that respect is writing and in particular forms of poetry often the silent scream inside? Let’s have that debate sometime, perhaps in one of those fun twitter threads!
I am amazed at how much I have written and how much is discarded and frankly, not great, I do go back to this idea of just archiving and therefore everything has a value because it reflects you and your life. Nonetheless there’s a lot of crap among all this and it’s hard when I am typing up period of my life where the writing is really not engaging or well written. I notice the likes quickly drop off and I am not the person promoting myself as a poet or being ruthless around self-promotion. I completely understand the likes dropping off, I know I post a lot of it must become irritating, I would be irritated to be honest.
My writing has always been a relationship between me and it, we have had periods where we have been madly in love, periods we have been quite close, periods where are distant and periods where we have been unappreciative of each other. But my writing, whatever it is and whatever its worth for others, has been a constant thread in my life.
I have taken to editing some of my older pieces, I did debate about originality and whether I should now be applying changes in 2020 at the age 45 to a piece I wrote in 1998 when I was 23 for example. But I have formed the opinion that it is fine, actually they should be edited and made as good as possible. It is often only small changes or adding lines or changing structures slightly. As I said there is a lot of crap but there is a lot of writing that I feel are undiscovered gems and just need a bit of polish.
I do love my writing though, it’s always been a safe space, long before the terms safe space had a meaning for me. I realised from a young age, writing and forms of poetry gave a place to be yourself and you could be yourself, bad bits and good bits. Writing in that sense is liberating, you can be who you want. I have probably said before that where writing often falls down for me is not technical ability, but with poetry, a lack of identity and authenticity. I often read poetry and its well written, well laid out but I have no idea about the author and it feels generic, it’s safe and guarded and I sometimes think people want to project themselves and therefore either consciously or subconsciously they hold back. Being a poet is not a complete identity, it’s something we do and perhaps sometimes people load the idea of being a poet with some preconceived bits that they want to be. I am always excited to read work that uses wordplay or unusual phrasing or takes subjects and plays around with them. The actual skill of using words I think sometimes, perhaps ironically, is lost in some forms of poetry and prose. If I comment on a piece, I will often say, write for yourself first and foremost, other people’s opinion is welcome, but it has to work for you first.
You know, sometimes people say things and you chuckle and you go, hold on, that was me! I had that moment the other day, someone made an amusing comment about teenage boys and their poetry. I laughed and thought, oh its true, in a sense teenage boys do write a certain type of thing. Then I thought, oh that was me… I still laughed because I had just been writing up pieces from 1992 and 1993 when I was 17 and 18. It’s true, I did write some really clichéd teenage boy stuff that is cringe worthy.
I have enjoyed watching myself grow up and change through my writing, again, I heard something the other day along the lines of, ‘I don’t view the world through those eyes anymore’, it is the type of phrase that immediately registers with me and I will turn it into a piece of writing. But if I think about my writing over the years, then that is true also. I often think, why I can’t write like that anymore or in that style or in that way. It’s not that I want to, but I am intrigued about the way writing changes and it is about the eyes you see the world with. It’s not just about being young, we just see the world through different eyes and different stages in our life. One thing I have noticed, looking at when I started writing from the age of seventeen to now be that you gradually start to look more and more outwards as you get older. Initially you are very inward looking, then life experiences force you to look outwards and then life experience makes you question. A friend of mine recently said, I took a long time to form as a person’. Again, it’s a really interesting phrase, I can completely agree and I can see that in my writing. It’s a clumsy slow crawl, a grab in the dark to find full formed personhood.
So where are we up to now, well I am just writing up some ‘scraps’ from 2017 – it’s all very, ‘political’ and political pieces never garner the same interest, which is fair enough, I think there is a real skill in writing what appear overtly political pieces. I think in 2017, I was sort of moving my writing that way and had been for a while, so I think there was a learning process on writing like that which I had to realise.
I have had some lovely comments and continue to appreciate every like. Never hesitate to speak to me or ask me a question or ask me to read something of yours.
Stay safe and remember people protest to force change. Change doesn’t happen because a misuse of power sees one group consolidating their power through oppression and discrimination. If that group refuse to give up their power and have more equality. Then those on the receiving end will eventually have to protest and force change. Protesting is not a sign of an unruly society, it’s a sign of an unfair society where one group is actively oppressing and discriminating another. So tear the statues down, push for change and make your voice heard. It’s not, I repeat not All Lives Matter, it is Black Lives Matter because so often, black do not and society whether it is here in the UK or America has actively continued to discriminate against black lives. That is why we have black lives matter because often they do not and have not mattered.
James Garratt – July 2020