I've been snowed under at work these last couple of weeks, what with visits from American importers and blending this year's Tempranillo, which mainly involves trying to predict how it will taste in 2010. A bit like falling in love with a poem you've just written yet at the same time wondering whether that feeling will last when you pick it up again six months later.
This hectic schedule has meant I've barely had time to read a poem, never mind write one. The toad work plays a key role in my life, but does it help me as a poet? Well, the answer might superficially be a resounding NO in the light of my previous remarks, but I feel that it does on the whole. I've nothing whatsoever against creative writing tutors who find their classes fuel the creative process, but I'm certainly sure that teaching poetry would drum the slippery substance out of me forever!
Reading and writing poetry is an outlet, an escape valve for me, a time that's mine and mine alone. As such, it takes on a precious and untainted status in my life. If I had longer to write, I don't think my focus and concentration would reach the levels they reach within my current constraints.
Alison Brackenbury has been the latest guest poet over at the Poets On Fire Forum these last few days, and she makes a number of interesting remarks on just this subject, prompted by an astute question from Matt Merritt. It's worth comparing and contrasting her views, noting how a writer's needs and motivations change along with their circumstances. Maybe my own feelings on the matter will alter in the coming years!
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 ...