From time to time I have a trawl through my folders of old failed work on the off chance that some piece or extract might be worth reworking or set off a new spark.
Doing so this weekend, I realised how key themes, techniques and tones have developed in my work. Only now can I spot my first clumsy gropings towards them a few years ago.
Larkin was keen to insist on his disavowal of a poet's obligation to develop, but he also admitted that his percentage of failures didn't drop with time, in itself a recognition that we mustn't stagnate or repeat ourselves if we're going to be creative. I use this argument when wrestling with my current poetic messes: the encouraging aspect of the process is that maybe, just maybe, they are staging posts on the way to somewhere new and as yet unknown.
The shortlist for the 25th TS Eliot Prize has been announced, and it's heartening to see a book from Nine Arches Press, Jacqueline Saphra's excellent *All ...