22 January 2011

2011, Year of Poetry*

*I should note first off that 2011 is not the year of poetry in any kind of official sense, and is in fact, according to Wikipedia, the International Year of Forestry, International Year of Chemistry, International Year for People of African Descent, and World Veterinary Year.

There's nothing like being on holiday to make me stop and think.

As soon as I did, I realised something was wrong.

I realised that poetry, something I consider one of the most important things in my life, has been consistently pushed (by me, I confess) to the bottom of my priority list. I have been neglecting it. The writing and revising of my own poetry, and the reading of other people's poetry, and generally being a poet (so, sitting around, especially in cafes, looking kinda melancholy and deep, thinking profound thoughts) doesn't have strict deadlines, and so is generally trumped by things that do.

Some of the things that get prioritised above my own poetry are also poetry-related - publishing other people's poetry through Seraph Press and JAAM - but I realised that while those things are very important to me, for my self personally my own poetry is more important, and I should stop putting it at the bottom of my list.

OK, so easier said than done.

I'm not planning to give up Seraph Press or JAAM, I have a full-time day job, I have a partner I quite like to hang out with often, and friends I like to see from time to time. I also really like sleeping. So how am I going to make this the year of poetry?

Well, I do have some ideas. One is to spend less time on the net, especially Twitter and Facebook, not so much because of the time, but more because I find it makes me attention-deficient - anxiously checking and clicking, finding that I'm looking for some kind of 'hit'. It puts me in a space that is kind of opposite to the space I need to be in to write poetry.

Something that puts me in a good head space to write poetry is reading poetry. Usually I find it very mind calming; slowing, but often sparking - a word, phrase or image often sends me off in a parallel or perpendicular direction. Also, you know, I like poetry, and I think it's important to have an idea of what the local and international poetry community is up to.

So, I have arbitrarily decided I'll try to read at least one poetry book a week. And while I'm unlikely to write detailed reviews and analyses of them, I do want to record them in some way - so expect blog posts.

I'm also looking for recommendations, so let me know collections or poets you think I'll like, or think I should read. I'm particularly interested in broadening my familiarity with contemporary overseas poets - though they are sometimes hard to get hold of around here.

Another thing I'm going to do is make sure I spend a lot of time hanging around in cafes - I tend to write better there, where - despite the busyness - there are fewer distractions that at home.

That said, my major poetry plan for the year is to finish 'Cinema' - what I hope will be my next book. I've been working on the poems for it for a while, and think I have most of what I need for the book - though I still have a few in mind. After Christmas I spent a few hours going through what I had and pulling out all the poems I didn't like so much, or which I don't think fit. Now I want to work on the structure/order/flow/narrative of the collection as a whole, and polishing the individual poems. Probably then I'll find spaces where new poems should be, which will want to be written too.

Secondary to that, is my next epic poetry project, which I started on in the middle of last year, and which I expect to take a while.

It's going to be a busy year.


Anonymous said...

Good luck with your poetry goals for the new year, it sounds like you're aiming high. :) Have fun!

Emma said...

Excellent! I do miss you on the social networking but it sounds like it is good. I hope you have a great poetry year!

Helen Rickerby said...

Thanks lizbethsgarden and Emma! It's going pretty well so far. Have been revising my poems, and have more clarity and ideas (in part thanks to a chat with another HelenPoet today). Am feeling positive.