The poem is not happy.
It glares up at me, its eyes spitting fury.
‘How dare you take me in that direction?’ it says. ‘Can’t you see this is not about your childhood? Who gave you permission to do that? Who?’
‘I was only doing my best,’ I reply.
‘That is precisely my point,’ the poem says. ‘How many times do I need to remind you that you are not the one who is in charge here?’
I sigh. I put down my pen. I close my folder of poems.
I can still hear the poem nagging me, even as I slide the folder back into the drawer.
‘How long have you been doing this? Have you learnt nothing? What was it Roethke said, you remember, that line you are always quoting, about not having any rights in this matter? You could do worse than listen to your own advice sometimes. And that part, eight lines in (it is always eight lines in), where you start erecting signposting behind my back, nudging the reader with a nod and a wink what I am really supposed to be about! It’s childish, amateurish. You should know better by now, a man of your age. What you need to learn is that I do not mind being treated badly. Those last six lines? Ditch them. They are commentary. They make me look weak, like a piece of journalism. And the first four. Ditto. You were just warming up. Now, take off those kid gloves and get back to work.’
I guess poems are like pictures, they speak, direct ,and ,now you said it, give feed back. Before ,that had never occurred to me.
Yes indeed. My poems are always giving me a bollocking. Hence today’s post…
What a great blog! Both this new post and well… all the general welcoming feel of it. Excellent! I’m sure I’ll return again and again. Thank you, Anthony.
Thank you so much Susan. Welcoming. So lovely to hear that. It’s exactly what I’m aiming for.
With best wishes
This is all too familiar! Well put.
So this is what my poem was trying to tell me earlier this week. It was talking in another language! Thanks for this.
Glad to be of help!
This reminds me of what Adrienne Rich said, “Who is to dictate what may be written about and how? Isn’t that what everybody fears—the prescriptive, the demand that we write out of certain materials, avoid others?”