What do you do when a poem doesn’t work?

My writing life

Well, what do you do?

You could tear it up and throw it out of the window and go into a decline.

You could throw your computer out of the window and go into a decline.

You could go under the duvet for a week muttering that you are a rubbish poet.


You could read it, as it stands, to someone else and see what they think.

I had a poem this week that just wouldn’t work, and although I felt like doing all three of the above things, I didn’t (partly because my computer is brand new!), I read it to someone else in order to try and find out what was the matter with it.

I am still not sure it will ever work, but the feedback was useful. Among other things I decided that it is either two poems, although I don’t want it to be, or one rather long one that is going to take a while and a lot more work to get right. So now it’s on my pile of poems to revise and revisit and it’s going to stay there for the moment.

The poem I did write was triggered by a conversation which in turn brought back a memory. A few weeks ago someone asked me what was the most worthwhile l thing I thought I had ever done. I replied that many years ago, when I was a primary school teacher, I taught lots of people to read, and I felt that that was a very useful thing to have done. This conversation in turn, brought back a very clear memory of one little boy who struggled to read and I wrote the poem about that. This is a new topic for me and takes me back to a time in my life I have never written about when I was in my twenties. It could, and I hope it will produce more poems. We’ll see.

Reading Week

More Carola Luther this week; these poems deserve reading slowly and so far I have managed to keep up my intention of reading some poetry every week. The book, Arguing with Malarchy, is in three sections and I have just finished the first one, entitled Cusp. This in itself is a lovely collection of poems about a variety of topics. I particularly enjoyed the long poem about Iceland, and the way that in short sections the poet captures the enormous variety and strangeness of the place. I remember when I went there back in the 1980’s thinking it was the first time I had been in the true wilderness, and that it was an alien environment,  and gave me a feeling of otherness that was really disturbing at the time.

Hare in the Headlights                                                                          

Nothing too scary this week that I recall, it’s been busy but there haven’t been any moments when I felt as though I was caught in the middle of the road and not sure what to do.

A friend, who really loves hares, told me she had seen a hare in the headlights for real once, and that it had turned and moved away and she had followed it. Is there a lesson to be learned from that, about going with the things that scare us?

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