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On Poetry


I've written poems for as about as long as I can remember. I love the way that I'm forced to pick words in a way that I don't always do with prose. In doing so, I like to cut the word count down to the bare minimum - often it is a good discipline. Somehow, writing poetically allows moods to take shape, ideas to flow, moments to be encapsulated. And when I read poems, that is what I'm looking for as well - that the writer articulates more than just an idea - that their words paint a picture, express emotion, stir up a thought process and lead us into fresh mind-scapes. 


Most of my poetry is self-taught. I don't remember learning much poetry at school other than Wilfred Owen as the set text for O-level - but what a wonderful set-text to learn from! We certainly never learnt how to write poetry, or how to differentiate styles of poetry, or the way in which poetry had developed through the ages. It was a Comprehensive education that didn't really expect much from us. So my poetry followed a free form style that didn't even know what rules it was breaking.

On the whole I wrote for pleasure - there was a moment when a couple of us thought we could be great songwriters but nothing came of that; and I wrote to express myself in a way that was different from essays, reports or statements. And occasionally I would perform at church socials but there didn't seem anywhere else to take this strange scratch I had to write and perform. It was only when I began theological training that anyone encouraged me - I had written the personal statement on my application as a poem and that caused a bit of a stir, "We've never seen anything like that before" and at College I found people who inspired me to write and even allowed me to submit poems as coursework instead of essays! And so poetry became a more normal way of expressing myself - in lieu of a sermon, or the monthly church newsletter, or talking at Women's Fellowships, or to populate this blog. But still this question nags - What am I doing? and is any of this of any worth outside this narrow, self-publishing environment?

So, in recent days I have begun to venture into a wider culture. I've been going to Fire & Dust an open mic event in Coventry - if those things existed in my youth I missed them - and have shared a couple of poems that seemed to be well received. I've started submitting to Poetry journals without success and entering poetry competitions - with one success. But it's a funny old business. I've discovered that by publishing on websites or in church magazines I've disqualified my poems from being entered elsewhere. But, it's also caused me to look at poems in a new light - and some old favourites have been revised. And this morning as I prepared to submit a pamphlet of poems I realised that two didn't fit the rules - so had to turn to another that I've been hesitating over and work into a format that I couldn't dally over any longer. And away they went - my little creations - to be judged!

So, do I share or don't I? In effect when I do - I'm assuming that this poem won't worry those who judge submissions to competitions or magazines but might of be of interest to the couple of you who take time to look in here. Yet, I don't want this site to only be populated with work that  I don't think is good enough for elsewhere - but then our ideas of good poetry are so subjective that it might well be that my little gems populate this place where the speechless sing and all that feels far more worthy gathers dust in a disused box.

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