Poetry: On specifics
From time to time, I'll try and post some thoughts that come out of some of the sessions that we're having on the Complete Works II programme, mostly as a means for me to digest what's going on. Last Thursday saw the first of our monthly seminars, with contributions from Malika Booker, Karen McCarthy Woolf and Roger Robinson.
It was Roger's talk that has started the wheels turning. He spoke about the need for us, as individual poets rather than a group, to develop and then maintain our own voices, rather than necessarily striving to try and fit into a wider, more mainstream notion of what our voices should be.
- You have to be clear about what you are trying to do
- You have to ask, and know, what are the specifics of you that you are bringing to your poetry
- "Dig into you - the only new thing is you."
- You can use this exploration to create your own forms; but, of course, these forms don't have to tend towards to formality
- Generalities are ignored - how specific can you get?
- "The more specific you can be, the more widely your thought will disseminate."
There was also the suggestion that it is worth making a 'not to do list' as a way of narrowing your focus down, rather than running away starting lots of things, rather than finishing what you must - "Be drawn to finishing", as he put it.
He also called the sonnet the 'meat and potatoes of English poetry', which is a nice line indeed.