Monday, 5 March 2012

A Poet Marches On Their Stomach

*Don't panic! It is Monday and not Tuesday. Shaun anad I have switched days because I'm more organised than he is :)

This week’s theme is a pun, a play on words, ‘March is on its stomach’, which relates to the idiom an army marches on its stomach. It suggests that to be effective, an army relies on good and plentiful food, which made me ask myself: what ‘food’ does a poet require in order to be effective?

Personally, I can think of quite a few things that help me to write – be that in the short-term or the long-term – and which in some small way help me to be a better poet, or rather a more inspired one. However, I won't bore you with a long list, instead, I will mention three 'food' (re)sources that I've enjoyed over the last couple of days.

BOOKS, specifically poetry books, fuel my mind. They offer a chance to see how it is done, to learn, to be inspired, to escape, to feel and to discover what you like and what you don't like. I'm almost certain that if I didn't read poetry, then I definitely wouldn't be writing it.

I've currently been reading Michael Donaghy's
Collected Poems, as well as Memory Tray by Deryn Rees-Jones, New Collected Poems by Tomas Transtrӧmer and Profit and Loss by Leontia Flynn. All of which have made either an excellent snack or meal, and have successfully managed to prevent my mind from starving. 

COFFEE & BISCUITS. Before January 1st, the biscuits would have been cigarettes. A single poem would have resulted in a lot of smoke and ash but now, since quitting, there is just a lot of crumbs.

Anyway, I like to sit down to write with a mug of black coffee and a couple of biscuits. It's like a reward for being brave enough to face the blank page... 

Small sips and tiny nibbles that feel reassuring as you attempt to find the first line.

There is nothing like a genourous serving of the outside world. Be it rural or urban, there are thousands of ideas hiding, flitting and just waiting to be caught.

On Saturday, Shaun and I went for a walk around Brock Valley. Trees, mud, water, wild garlic and dishevelled farms is enough to satisify my poetic appetite and cause my mind to start thinking of potential first lines, titles, ends. 

So, on this indifferent Monday morning, why not treat yourself to something that makes you feel better, that inspires you, that makes you smile, that makes you feel freer, that makes you more effective.

Thank you for reading,



Ashley R Lister said...

I am so impressed that you have gone so long without smoking.

Personally I think all my future characters who did smoke will now be armed with mugs of black coffee and a shortbread finger tucked lightly between their knuckles - cigarette replacements for the no smoking generation.

Great post,


Lindsay said...

I love the mug! Where would I get one of those? I don't write a lot of poetry, although I did occasionally before I began studying 6 years ago. I will dig out my poetry books though and see how it's done, see if I can get anything, because I just realised I don't read it. Like you say maybe that's why I don't write any. Great post and a refreshing switch to monday, looking forward to Shaun's tomorrow.

vicky ellis said...

Fab list of food :) May I add strange people and inquisitive animals to the list?

I'm at work so not much poetry going on. There are, however, jammie dodgers behind me...

Lara Clayton said...

Ash: I'm completely off the patches now, so it has been a little more difficult. But I'm still determined to stick at it.

Rich tea fingers for the smoker who used to smoke roll-ups, shortbread fingers for the smoker who used to smoke straights and Cadbury's chocolate fingers for the smoker who used to smoke the finest cigars :)

Lara Clayton said...

Lindsay: Thank you. The mug was from Waterstone's about a year ago. Shaun has The Big Sleep / Raymond Chandler. Yes, we are a little geeky and clichéd.
Not seen them in Waterstone's recently but Amazon stock them:

Let me know how the poetry reading goes... Someone was telling me about a children's poet who was at the Wordsworth Trust and said her stuff was great - not what you'd expect. Can't remember her name, but I'll find out and let you know.

Lara Clayton said...

Vicky: I think strange people and inquisitive animals are great ones to add to the list. Nothing like an hour spent people watching :)

I hope you've stolen one of those Jammie Dodgers.

Ste said...

Somewhere I once saw a spoof of those Penguin mugs with Katie Price and Wayne Rooney's books - can't for the life of me find it now but if I ever see the Katie Price one I promise I'll buy you it, Lara :)