Yesterday morning I was continuing to work on a structure for my next set of poems. As a sketch for one of those structures began to suggest itself, from the notes for form and content that I was putting together, I got a strange sense of being on the cusp of the poem grabbing me and pulling me into it. Perhaps it was a side effect of working with fragments of spells, but this is being taken over by the writing isn't something I've experienced, certainly I haven’t been aware of experiencing, before when writing poetry.
I have encountered this in fiction writing and perhaps passed over it as being peculiar to that form: to the ability for characters to talk to me; to the need to get from one point of the story to another; knowing that something has to happen that will come from the characters, their situations, their desires and needs. When I first started to study writing I came across the idea that there comes a point when the writing takes over and character, story, along with other elements will take on a life of their own. Of course I didn’t quite believe would ever happen. I’d never be good enough to begin a story from which I could hear those voices, or sense the rhythms of the story leading me through it in such a way. But it did come to happen in my short story writing and I, the writer, was pulled along with the flow of the writing taking form; the writing told of its demands loud and clear, and I just had to write to these. Still an effort of concentration and stamina but actually an enjoyable way to write; knowing where the story was going and being told what is needed through each stage of the writing gives it the momentum to be continued to a finished piece.
When writing poetry I think perhaps I have (as part of paring down the language to exclude no thing superfluous, no mark, space, on the page I can’t account for) exerted a control over my poetry writing that I haven't been aware I was subjecting my writing to. I can hear a couple of voices saying, yes, we did tell you this! However I just couldn’t see how I was transferring a tendency for self control to my poetry writing. Nor could I see the difference it could make to let the language and the forms wash over me and pull me into the poem. It seems apparent to me now that I have in some ways kept myself firmly on the outside of my poems, albeit unintentionally.
So, yesterday, when the fragments of the poem I was working with began to show they have the potential for a form, a togetherness, that I hadn’t sculpted, and when the material itself seemed to be organising itself in front of me it was unexpected and unnerving. An epiphany has come out of realising how in control I have been. I was frightened by the potential for this thing, this seeming creature of marks and spaces on the page, a thing variably of sound and sense, to go taking shape and breath, to go demanding to be fed and to be demanding my attention to assist it into life. Its hunger and potential to absorb me beyond my control for that instant of a second seemed frighteningly powerful (a Dracula of poems perhaps!). About to fall into the poem; I leaned back to stop myself.
Having taken stock last evening, and being at liberty to devote my time solely to writing, today I’m having another go. There’s still an element of fear of letting myself be taken over by the poem, mixed now with an excited curiosity. I have informed my family of my impending adventure so that if I do disappear for a short while, they’ll know where to find me.