Poet in the making

So, today I entered my first poetry competition. It cost £1 to enter and is not going to make me famous. But it did make me feel a little bit like a ‘proper’ poet.

I’ve been writing poetry on an off for years – though much more off than on. Yesterday I was tidying the box room that contains my desk and a forest full of papers, and I spent an illuminating half hour flicking through my old writing notebooks. I found half-finished poems there that really surprised me. They weren’t going to make Faber & Faber hammer at my door with a contract, but they weren’t that bad either. Most of them looked salvageable with some rethinking and a bit of work.

It just shows how important it is not to tear up a poem that you can’t get to work there and then. Instead, shove it into a box to be rediscovered later when you’ve distanced yourself from the poem, or from the catalyst for writing it. Then you can look again at the muddle of words and ask what do I want this poem to say? What do I want readers to feel? What is it that just isn’t working?

And they’re a great fall-back for those days when the Muse has called in sick. An hour or two tinkering with a poem can feel just as rewarding as writing one from scratch.

I’m not holding my breath for the announcement that I have won that poetry competition. But perhaps I don’t need to win something to feel like a ‘proper’ poet. I just need to keep creating poems.

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3 Responses to Poet in the making

  1. 2sidestory says:

    I really liked what you said about keeping all the poems you write, sometimes taking a break from them, but always coming back. Great post!

  2. yellowlancer says:

    Well done on your first entry. I agree, it really helps to make you feel like a ‘real’ poet and I’m a firm believer that entering competitions and submitting work also help to improve your work. It has helped me a lot.
    Some of the writers in the groups I’ve led here in Australia blame me because they say they are becoming hoarders – one of the first things I tell them is not to throw anything out 🙂 And yes, I love that feeling when you look back on something you’ve written ages ago and just re-discovered that it isn’t half bad 🙂

  3. Thanks 2sidestory and yellowlancer for your welcome and your positive comments!

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