Sunday, January 28, 2007


Looking back over this month, I’ve written a few poems I’m happy with. But it’s been a struggle all the way. Nothing has come easy and I’ve been very short of poetic inspiration. The first drafts have been crap and it’s taken me ages to get poems working. I haven’t felt more frustrated about writing poetry in a long time.

That said, I produced a poem for the Scottish National Galleries Competition that, at least, stands half a chance. I entered one for the Wigtown Competition (also known as the Scottish Open International Poetry Competition) and I was pleased with it by the final draft, although that final draft was a long time coming. I wrote a single stanza of a poem that might come good if I can find a way of continuing it. But the first stanza is OK. And I wrote a poem about bananas, which has probably found a final resting-place on this blog.

But the real disappointment is a poem I’m trying to write that I thought might do for the Strokestown International Poetry Competition. It just won’t work. I keep plugging away at it, feeling that the necessary moment of inspiration is bound to strike sooner or later, but nothing doing. It’s dead on the page. And I really did want to win that one beyond all the others. The deadline is Wednesday and it’s almost too late to transform the few good lines I have into a potential winner.

It’s something to do with my frame of mind. At least, I think that’s it. I’m not thinking like a writer this month. The disparate ideas in my notes aren’t cohering into anything greater than themselves. I keep interrupting myself by thinking about other things when the poem needs to be written. I’m coming at the poem from too straight an angle. My imagination appears to have taken a holiday in sunnier climes. And because of all this, I’m not relaxed, and the ability to relax, as Ros Barber correctly points out, is the key to it all.

I know it. I really know it. But knowing it doesn’t write the poem.


apprentice said...

It's a tough time of year to feel inspired, and writing to a deadline must be really hard. I hope something can be salvaged before Wednesday.

Larry said...

That sounds real AARRGHH, but that's the way things go sometimes, really. Not much use bickering about it. Nevertheless, I hope you work it out in time. If not, there are other years and other fish in the sea.

Cailleach said...

I agree with Apprentice and larry - I'm finding it hard to nail anything at all lately.

For about five that I started, I've only got one finished. Nothing is lying right writing wise and I know that what I need is time to walk away and leave things alone.

Rob said...

I thought posting a spot of angst to the blog might prove cathartic, and so it proved, although I wouldn't want to do it too often.

This morning, I got up early, amde a cappuccino, read three very different poems to get me in lyrical mood - namely:

Miss America by Roddy Lumsden
Timing by Michael Donaghy
Whaling by Miroslav Holub.

Then I added a few notes to my existing 4 pages, switched on my computer, called up the three lines I'd preserved of the poem from a previous occasion, and by 9am I had added another 47 lines!

That's not to say they are all good lines, but it's going in the right direction now.

Thanks for the encouragement.

Lee said...

I'm not sure I believe in Inspiration but I found it a constant battle to concentrate properly, deeply.

Rob said...

Lee, you're opening a big subject by mentioning 'inspiration'. I think I do believe in it, but what I mean by it is another thing. I might post something about it, if I can think of anything worthwhile to say.