Drafting the poem

So, I’ve got this poem.  I called it “The Charcoal Bridle”.  It came out of a much longer, realistic, narrative poem which was stuffed full of Big Ideas about being a woman, language, mental illness, death, recovery…sounds like a recipe for disaster, right?

The poem I’m working on at the moment popped out, like a shoot from a bulb, and it’s the most peculiar thing, not like the way I usually write at all.  By the way, that bulb image isn’t mine.  I was lucky enough to be mentored by Lavinia Greenlaw a few years back  and she used it as a way of describing what happens when  the core of a poem reveals itself inside what might be a perfectly viable draft, but not the real thing.  The live, charged, energetic core.

In my case, the strange shoot came from a couple of weird phrses:

as strange as unbroken horses

she has put on the charcoal bridle

and a suggestion by my perceptive poet friend Jemma Borg.

I really don’t know what I’m doing with this poem, only that I like working on it.  So, I’m a little freaked out that it’s the one chosen to be Masterclassed at the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival.  I submitted 5 or 6 poems, none complete, but this is the one that is the least coherent or finished-feeling.  And this is the one the organisers have chosen.  I suppose that’s good; the other participants will have plenty to say – and hopefully the experience will shed light on what’s at work, but I’m a bit apprehensive.  I don’t feel very detached from this one.

Incidentally, if you’re in the vicinity, do visit the Festival.  It’s brilliant!  I go every year with the Hairy Muse and our friend Crystal Tips – and this year Geoffrey Hill and Phillip Levine (amongst many illustrious others) are reading.  See you there?


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