Not for a poem in this case, but for my forthcoming pamphlet collection with Happenstance Press.
I could have taken one of the poems and applied that title to the book itself, while I also had the option of selecting a catchy snippet or turn of phrase from the innards of a stanza. Instead, I went back to the poetics of my work and to the experiences that laid its foundations. In doing so, I was very much reminded of a quote by Julio Cortázar that struck me immensely on first reading it some fifteen years ago and that has stayed with me ever since:
"Supe que nunca llegaría a la verdad inventada...si me convencía de que país nuevo era vida nueva y que el amor se cambia como una camisa."
One possible translation might be as follows:
"I knew I'd never reach the invented truth...if I convinced myself that a new country was a new life and love is changed like a shirt."
Cortázar was referring to his move from Buenos Aires to Paris, to the fact that over the course of his journey between countries he remained the same person, just with the benefit of multiple perspectives, both on his origins and on his destination. I feel very much the same way when I write in both a U.K. and Spanish context.
But what is invented truth? Well, for me it's the grabbing of life, following by a transformation into poems. When writing the pamphlet, I've attempted to take so-called "experience" or "anecdote" and and turn it into verse, not fact, not fiction, not even faction, but poetry.
What's more, a key tool in the writing process is the manipulation of voice. Who is the "I" that runs through much of my book? In fact, a more pertinent question would be "who are the "I"s that run through it?" This playing with identities enables me to bounce poems between concave mirrors, distorting their points of departure so as to reach somewhere revealingly new.
In other words, my aim when writing poetry is to find myself "Inventing truth", my pamphlet's title.
I talked to Amali Rodrigo about her first collection ‘Lotus Gatherers’ (Bloodaxe). PART ONE: THE POET Paul: What was it like growing up in Sri Lanka? Amali...