If you are one of those people who has spent some time looking into poetry and found that the experience felt rather like staring into a huge black hole; if the whole thing just seems so unfathomable, that the concept of free verse sends you into mental freefall and the mere mention of the words ‘iambic pentameter’ makes your hair folicles itch, then you and I have something in common. I am, at this very moment, and, in fact, for many weeks now, attempting to avoid the writing of a poem that I have studpidly bound myself to write. My avoidance strategy has become a complex web of time wasting strategies, of which writing this post is one. Others include, cleaning the oven; polishing the hand me down silver condiments set I never use; shopping for dresses I can not afford; re-reading Anna Karenenia ; starting a new novel set in the 1930’s, giving myself a good laugh by re-reading three books of song words written by fifteen year old – so self absorbed(!); playing priates, tea parties, postman pat or what ever game my two year old demands; watching Harry Potter 1, 2, 3 on repeat; and spending hours searching for free online streaming of Boardwalk Empire on the net. But ugh, the threat of it is still there with the deadline looming over me like a dementor (see Harry Potter). All the happiness is draining out of me, leaving only the misery that is a book called Metre, Rhythm and Verse Form by Philip Hobsbaum. Oh God, was there ever a book so destined to send me dolally? I have tried to absorb his take on the mechanics of poetry but I’ve come to the conclusion that poetry is the literary equivalent of quadratic equations and I’ve never understood those either.It’s like GCSE maths all over again – as soon as I put it down, I’ve forgotten most of it.
Even the musings of Oscar Wilde, Rudyard Kipling, WH Auden, Philip Larkin and the entire collection of Irish writers in The Penguin Book of Irish Poetry haven’t helped. They’re all so amazing and I’ve no idea why. To add to my problems I have commited myself to writing a poem that will sit within a short story. What is wrong with me? Why would I give myself the added pressure of tying the bloody thing in with the narrative. Is it A, becuase my literary ambition knows no bounds? Or B, becuase I am thick and didn’t realise what I was letting myself in for? The correct answer is B. Anyway, now I have a short story with a hole in the middle of it. I have created the very first short story donut. I’m so proud.
If you’re reading this, and you’re a poet, I don’t expect you to have any sympathy with me, go one with your musings and inexplicable line breaks and leave me to my misery. For those of you who, like me are mid poetry crisis, I can offer no advice, only empathy and reiterate my newfound knowledge that poetry is not something that should be entered into lightly. It will take over your life, even in your bid to avoid it. Ooh, also poetry does sound better if you read it out loud.