February 28, 2009

It’s been a very long time since I really blogged. Occasionally, I put up a draft of a poem, but mostly not even that. It occurs to me that I’ve given it up and can’t help thinking that there might be a connection between my blogging less and sadly, my writing less.

I know a poet who says that when she’s unhappy she cuts her hair and when she’s happy, she grows it long. Looking back at photographs she can trace the arch of her happiness, even if she wasn’t aware of it at the time. I think this is the same for me and this – but to say so is difficult, because it now means that I am blogging publicly the idea of me being unhappy – and certainly in British culture, that’s taboo. However, if being unhappy is one thing that can prevent writing – I think not being honest is even worse for it.

Most poets I know say complete honesty is the only way to write and to not be honest is to not write. Now, I know lots of other poets who will not write about their personal lives because they feel it is just that, personal. They will write about politics, strangers and people other than themselves. They will write with distance even if their thoughts and personalities are still being reflected. In their case this is not the same as being dishonest, this is how they write; they are being honest in what they are writing and in how they are writing. However, in my case, where my work has always drawn on the personal detail of my life, to suddenly switch to writing at more remove, or to not write at all – IS the same as being dishonest. And, as most poets I know say, this is the problem.

I’m not writing because I’m holding back. I’m being concerned about whether other people will want to hear about what I’m writing – or whether they will be irritated by it – feel violated by information – will judge me negatively for being the kind of writer who will be open about their life. In short, I am tying myself up in knots second guessing others – and by not being honest and continuing to be open, I’m not being honest to who I am as a writer.

Possibly I am belaboring the point, but for me, this is an important one. It’s Lent, and though I’m not religious I think I’m going to give up this dishonesty. I’m going to try and say what’s really happening, like in the past I’ve described holidays I’ve taken abroad and happy times I’ve spent with people that I’ve loved. If it’s really, really private or if it would hurt someone else, I’ll password protect – but hopefully, just the intention of honesty will help these posts and with any luck the poems they lead to, find their balance.

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Taxidermied Bear

February 1, 2009

Mr Polar Bear,
Are you happy to be holding
a basket full
of plastic chrysanthemums?

Mr Polar Bear,
are you happy to be standing
in a recess, on the floorboards
of a stately home.

Mr Polar Bear –
from the top of the food chain
to the bottom of the stairs –
did you think you’d end up like this?

If you were mine I’d take you home
I’d bury you in the ice.