Tuesday, 6 March 2012


Morning readers,

This week, having swapped with Lara, I don’t get the task of introducing the theme. This worries me, because it means I have to write some kind of opening paragraph.

March is on its Stomach makes me think of two things. I think of March- the spring, the clocks changing, the garden. I also think of my stomach and an ever so human desire to eat something bad for me. I treat poetry in much the same way as I have looked at this title. I look at it as somewhere to  hear new voices, new seasons and ideas- they are the March bit. I also read a lot of stuff that hits me right in the gut. I like a little of the blindingly obvious now and then, right.  

There have always been poets that hit you right in the stomach. Seamus Heaney’s writing gets me a lot of the time- as does Tony Harrison’s and William Blake’s. I’m a sucker for a real issue you see and so, no matter how many new writers come into the fold, I’ll always read material like this over and over. There are certain things in life that are just a part of you.

I got Lara the Banksy ‘Wall and Piece’ book for Christmas and have just got around to having a nosy at it myself. I’ve seen one of those pieces before- at Latitude festival a couple of years ago and, all being well, by the time you read this I’ll have bagged myself a ticket for this year. I mention it only because the artwork worked with the Jungle Book characters and carried a message of deforestation. A familiar scene, memory and idea pushed firmly into the mind of the receiver (in this case, viewer). It stuck in my head because it had guts. A content and something to really say.

I think this is why we keep going back to the tried and tested poets. When I’m having a bad day I wouldn’t usually  pick up someone’s debut collection. I’ll have another look at something I thought I knew. It might be Heaney, Blake, Larkin, Keats, Wordsworth or any other time served writer but, in making that decision to go back to it, I know it must be something I care about- something I believe in. I often find something new to think about- an idea or line I see in a new light and I like this. I like the sneakiness of hiding in bigger pictures and posing as minor details. 

In writing my own poetry, I often try to lace it with some of the issues that haunt my every day. They are my guts, I guess. The stuff I will churn out again and again like sick on a pavement. The day I look at it and think, ‘Hey, that mish-mash of thoughts you left outside the door last night (and what a night!) Yeah, that stuff that came out of you mister, is just brilliant’ is the day I become conceited and unlikable. That is the day I will probably think I have written my masterpiece and all the bile inside me has just come out. That is probably the day I stop writing.

I’ll never get to that day. There are so many stories and ideas and issues in my intestines that I’ll try to write with guts forever more. There’ll be the usual quota of crap, sure, but just as long as there is a real feeling there, I don’t think the things turning my stomach can be ignored, however much I try.
My advice to anyone reading- don’t just write what you know, write what you care about as well. An army marches on its stomach just like a poem does- no fuel to feed on means no fight for it to give, and that, I believe is of neither use nor ornament. 

Until next week, keep writing.
Thanks for reading, S.



Ashley R Lister said...

So, puking up is a metaphor for writing poetry? This reminds me of a Stephen King metaphor (I think it was King) who described the initial rush of artistic creation as being comparable to squeezing a large zit.

Great post,


Ste said...

I love this metaphor. Sometimes writing does feel like puking all that shitty bile out of you. But Shaun hit on a proper point that when you start seeing it as that, it's as good as creative suicide. It does end up like a pile of puke - and no one wants to ingest that!