I have not been prolific in writing poetry. I write in bursts fired by a poetics dedicated to one set of poems. There is a progression, a level of coherence in my practice, but once a set of poems is completed the poetics which fired them also completes itself. It is not enough to repeat these processes with other materials; I have to find other ways of engaging language in order to form it into poetry. Some of the poems I’ve written have been so driven by language that they have shouted themselves onto the page with little help. I was lucky to experience those, though such poems came out of strong, emotionally centered responses, so there is a price to pay.
I also write by ear and can do this well enough that I haven’t yet composed pre-set sound patterns. I have used the method - ‘Does it sound right?’ and have edited accordingly. As I continue to compose poetics for a new set of poems I’m working on, I am exploring how to compose poems with more complex and varied sounds and rhythms. I am finding that it is time to engage with such things as phonology and phonetics. My ‘ear’ has not become redundant as I will always check the sound quality in that way. However now, to extend my practice and with the idea of a poem as art, I am introducing extra elements and layers to my work.
I am learning patience. Let the language material accumulate and reach simmering point instead of pushing it onto the page prematurely. That seems to have had an element of bullying, rather it was a response in eagerness to see how the language arrangements would work. But ‘free form’ arranging of language has not been working; language has not been speaking to me; I can’t hear it which has made me dissatisfied with recent past poems. They have seemed ‘dead on the page’.
My daughter is studying Art. Watching her move through the processes involved in creating an ‘end’ piece has reminded me of the purpose and importance of poetics to my writing. I have been lucky to have great teaching and should know better than to get carried away too soon. My eagerness sometimes creates a busy twirling of ideas that needs time to become stilled. Then it is useful.
Allow language to accumulate and reach simmering point = it is ready to speak to me and announce itself on the space of the page.
As the language begins to tap its fingers, ready to go, it inspires both nerves and excitement in me. But this is what I’ve been waiting for, so here goes, with a hoping to perhaps fail better...