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Tony Grist

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Supplementary To The Previous Post [Mar. 2nd, 2017|06:17 pm]
Tony Grist
I've been writing poems since my late teens. There have been times in my life when I've written very few- and other times when I've written them at the rate of two or three a week. I was at my most prolific during the late 80s and early 90s. These days poems come along at the rate of one or two a year.

Poems can't be forced. They come when they want to come. I have found though that they can be elicited by prompts. One or two of my better efforts have come about because someone gave me a topic to deal with- and sometimes a topic I'd never have tackled otherwise.

T.S. Eliot said there was no such thing as a poet, there are only people who write poetry.  I think that's right. Poetry comes and goes. Just because you wrote poetry in your youth doesn't mean you'll go on writing it all your life. Eliot himself is a good example of a writer whose gift deserted him. He wrote great poems from youth through middle-age but the love poems he wrote for his wife in old age are embarrassing- and he must have known it because he held them back from publication.  Most Collected Works contain a good deal of filler.  To set yourself up as a poet and commit to turning out slim volumes on a regular basis is to ask for trouble.

[User Picture]From: steepholm
2017-03-03 07:41 am (UTC)
One of the things I admire about Larkin is his willingness to restrict himself to four slim vols over a lifetime (well, five if we count XX Poems). He was well aware that his poetic gifts were gradually deserting him, but saw it as a minor sadness rather than a tragedy, comparing it to going bald.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2017-03-03 09:34 am (UTC)
If only the great Victorians had shown similar self-awareness and self-restraint.
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From: cmcmck
2017-03-03 09:59 am (UTC)
I started in my mid teens as you know- I had to control it all somehow!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2017-03-03 10:21 am (UTC)
Writing poetry is a great way of sorting out who you are and where you stand.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2017-03-03 07:41 pm (UTC)
You can't force it. If you do it won't be any good.
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[User Picture]From: halfmoon_mollie
2017-03-03 06:05 pm (UTC)
Merle Haggard was a song writer but he said approximately the same thing - if it didn't come right away, but it gets written anyhow, it SOUNDS forced. I too write poetry....
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2017-03-03 07:49 pm (UTC)
Artists are channels. The make themselves available.

I love the story of Paul McCartney waking up with a tune going through his head and thinking he must have heard it somewhere and asking all his friends but none of them knew it- until eventually he had to accept that it was a new thing- and he'd been given it readymade.

And that was the tune that eventually became "Yesterday".
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