I want to share details of how I wrote a poem recently, bringing several aspects of my writing life together. The idea for the poem started with a workshop I was doing for the WEA in Weston Super Mare.
I never fail to be amazed at how much a single poem can sometimes contain. It might contain ideas, images, ambiguities and multiple interpretations. It can be full of sound and music, and give the reader a powerful narrative. There is so much a poem can do.
Remembrance Sunday falls this year on Armistice Day itself. This year also marks 100 years since the end of the First World War which saw an estimated 10 million people lose their lives. The conflict spawned many artistic outputs as people sought to express the horror, and the suffering of it all. Poetry in particular is exceedingly well known through the works of Siegfried Sassoon, Robert Graves, Ivor Gurney, Wilfred Owen, and David Blunden to name but a few of the more famous examples.
I hope this discussion inspires you to think more deeply about how you could write about particular landscapes (or waterscapes) and stimulates you to research a really interesting contemporary writer and her ideas about poetry and places.
In the end, it’s not just about flowers.
Content-wise flash fiction, however short, will have a narrative arc while flash poetry will catch a moment with maybe implied narrative. In fact, flash poetry will have more in common with a photograph than with a piece of prose.
So your tutors are giving you good feedback, and you’re happy with what you’re writing, but what’s the next stage in sharing that with…
One of the reasons I read literature in translation is to extend my sense of the possible – to get a sense of what English-language writing might be missing.
I hope to produce a poem that is full of light and life, that is itself an ecosystem made up of many different sights, sounds, creatures, memories and ideas.
So your tutors are giving you good feedback, and you’re happy with what you’re writing, but what’s the next stage in sharing that with other people? People you don’t know, people whose opinions matter, people who are part of a wider community of poets?
Parody is enormous fun. It’s a very good way of finding out about other writers’ styles, although you have to choose someone with a distinctive voice. I think the greatest gains are to be had writing poetic parodies. You discover new verse forms, new ways of looking at things, new ways to use images, alliteration, metaphors
The name itself is surely a contradiction in terms – how can a poem be ‘prose’, when ‘prose’ is the very word used to describe writing that’s not poetry?