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.