When I wandered down to my mailbox today expecting to find the usual bills and junk mail there was instead an envelope addressed to me in an unfamiliar script. When I opened it I found the two poems I’d emailed to David Brooks after Monday’s workshop. Whenever we give our work to someone to read there’s always that little voice inside that says Please love it, please say it’s brilliant. That same little voice gave a sigh when I unfolded the papers to see one of the poems covered in notes and lines and question marks. David had given it a thorough going over, making suggestions about what to move and what to delete. The main message was condense and simplify. When I re-read this poem, which I wrote a number of years ago and haven’t touched or looked at since, I knew exactly what he meant. I need to get to the core of what I’m trying to say, to get to the essense of it. There’s too many ramblings and over-blown descriptions. The poem is trying too hard. But there’s material there to work with. I just need to re-connect with what I’m trying to say and then say it as simply and as powerfully as I can. And instead of feeling dejected by the constructive criticism I felt inspired to take another look at the poem and start revising.
This week I’ve reconnected with poetry. I’ve pulled some of those anthologies and collections I’ve been meaning to read and put them beside my bed: Mary Oliver, Billy Collins, Lily Brett, Dorothy Porter and Kate Llewellyn. I’m sure there’ll be a few more to buy at the Writer’s Festival tomorrow where I’ll be meeting up with some of my writing buddies for more inspiration.
That’s another of the wonderful things about writing – the people you meet and the connections you make. Over and over again.