I have been asked by Abegail Morley, the woman behind the excellent blog The Poetry Shed, to participate in a My Writing Process blog tour. You can read what Abegail has to say about her writing process here.
1) What am I working on?
I have just finished a full-length collection called A Wound’s Sound to be published by Oneiros Books very soon. It is primarily a book concerned with suffering – more specifically, the suffering of animals at the human hand. It is not a graphic book and many of the poems address the issue obliquely. Neither is the book intended to be a prescriptive or moral work. Naturally, my ethical stance is the point from which the poems emanate but my reaction to the appalling treatment of billions of animals slaughtered every year for food is the emotive response to the howl beyond the hill.
Droop-eye, me, lodged in a hole/all my sisters weightless now.
White, their gums, from blood-loss/their lost lowing high blue.
My one whole hoof shod with shit/my best bone a blade.
Clamped to the carousel with its thieving cups/its horror/my udder
droops milk for a week of babies. Fucked and forced with this life/
this breaking will hooked in the end in a concrete bowl of slaughters.
Shoved with drugs my blood is still mine/still flows in the green country.
What is this penance I have been set?/this unholy torture prized
from the bloody human hand and visited upon my sides. Sore, I am/
clamped here with misery/with a hell of bars biting about my head.
(from A Wound’s Sound, first published at The Lake)
2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I think it would be a brave statement to maintain that my work is different from others. As Larkin says,
Originality is being different from oneself, not others.
There has been and is so much poetry that it is difficult to find something truly new. Experimental poets push the boundaries of what poetry is and sometimes we come across something we are not so familiar with. I suppose the subject matter of A Wound’s Sound is one that is not regularly tackled by poets. Nature, of course, is a very popular subject and I do assimilate my environment into the poems but anything natural I incorporate into a poem almost always points to some unseen horror.
3) Why do I write what I do?
Simply, I write what is on my mind. If I use the word “I” in a poem it means me. I am not poet who writes fiction but neither am I a confessional poet.
4) How does your writing process work?
I have to quote Larkin again:
Oh, for Christ’s sake, one doesn’t study poets! You read them, and think, That’s marvellous, how is it done, could I do it? and that’s how you learn.
I came late to poetry. I have only been writing poetry for 6 years. It has been a steep learning curve. I have never attended a poetry workshop or festival. I have never read my poetry in public. I have never shared my work online for feedback purposes. I agree thoroughly with Larkin. I read the poets I like and I see how what I want to do is done. I am particularly interested in the way words sound together and patterns of rhythm. Of course, one must be careful of plagiarizing but I am of the opinion that if improvements are suggested to your poem by another party it is no longer your poem. I would rather make the next one better, then the next, and so on. I often start writing a poem with a line or an image or even a single word. I look around me when I am out walking for prompts. I like interesting word juxtapositions and I will often hyphenate two words in order to associate them more closely with one another. If I am stuck I will sometimes use some virtual device to produce something unusual enough to prompt me. I particularly like Language is a Virus for this. I write both in notebooks and directly onto the computer. I especially like to sit outside in the summer with a notebook. I used to like writing on train journeys but I hardly ever make them now.
The idea of this blog tour is to pass the baton to three fellow poets who write about their own writing processes. However, none of my poet friends were able to take part so, in the spirit of the endeavour, I would like to highlight a few blogs from poets I particularly like. And, in the wake of International Women’s Day, they all happen to be women.