Reading Poetry in the Nude
Last Wednesday I heard a thud on the hall floor and for once it wasn't a rejected manuscript.
All week I've been carrying the book around like a talisman, and reading it ostentatiously on the tube.
Like many people I wrote poetry in my twenties. I went further, going to events at the Poetry Society and hanging out with a poet I met at one of the readings. It was always a difficult relationship; he encouraged my writing and introduced me to the work of many poets I went on to love, but he kept asking me to read to him naked. I wasn't so sure about that. Ted (not his actual name) suggested that it would free up my creative energies. I suspected that it might free up his. In the end we drifted.
About six years ago, when I started to write again in earnest, my inclination was towards novels. These days, it seems, many people consider the novel to be proper writing. At least that's the way it looked to me. I slaved away and ploughed out two novels (as yet unpublished). But all the while, pieces of verse kept popping out of me. One of my poems in the Iron Book of New Humorous Verse came while I was making coffee - ostensibly a break in my writing.
I never thought of trying to get any of it published until I saw the call for submissions for the anthology. It was a delight to find I would be nestled in the company of wonderful poets including: Wendy Cope, Jacob Polley, John Whitworth and Julie Kane.
That letter from Iron Press has changed everything about my writing life. I did an Arvon course with the truly inspirational Ian Duhig and Amanda Dalton. I'm now doing an evening class at The Poetry School. I've subscribed to a million poetry magazines and bought skip-loads of poetry.
For now, I've no interest in going back to the novels. I'm intent on extending my range in verse form and subject matter, and daring to write serious shit as well as my natural home territory of comic stuff. For the first time in a long time, I'm enjoying writing again.
It's a refreshing change to be rejected by poetry magazines instead of literary agents.