No matter how much craft and how many drafts I devote to certain poems, they never seem to come alive. However, their trail remains in my notebook. When I move on to a new one, I trawl back through its predecessor and start on the first page with a list of those clumsy pieces, with the challenge of previous failures.
When flicking through the pages of the full notebook, I spot that those drawn-out efforts are interspersed with sudden new poems in unexpected bursts. And that penultimate word becomes key. The unexpected is where verse is born, where the subconscious springs a surprise and I realise it's been brewing a new poem for weeks or months, or a fresh tangent turns stale stanzas on their head and one of the old drafts springs to life at last.