I've been challenged to explain why I believe what I believe about what poetry is, and what supports my belief. Gulp.
I have no original thought on this. I'm relying on education.
I was given a poetry book when I was maybe 10 years old. My gran gave it to me. I was hooked on it, and bizarrely, off my own back, learned some by heart. I still remember some glimpses of these.
When as a child I laughed and slept, time crept
When as a youth I dreamt and talked, time walked
When I became a full grown man, time ran
I wonder, if I google that, how accurate my memory is, and also if the last line had the punch I remember, even though I can't remember what it was!
Then there was the songs of Hiawatha. Oh My. That was amazing. This huge rush of story, the rhythm as it raced along. Just inspiring.
But I didn't start writing until someone gave me Stephen Fry's Ode Less Travelled. It walked me through, step by step, how to write a poem. I got stuck in. And that was about technical things.
But the time when I truly thought about it was on Saturday morning workshops with Peter Sansom in Manchester. In a room with other people who thought maybe they could write poems. And there the concept of if the person doing the writing says it's a poem, it is a poem was put in front of me. OK, I can handle that, I thought, as my eyes opened to free verse. I also chucked away any attempt to be poetic in my writing. Chucked away the weirdness of thinking it was OK to put words in a non conversational order, and chucked away using poetic words too. Turns out I believe that poetry is something small, coherent, intense, intimate and conversational. It has to have words in it that talk to people living here and now. It can deal with big things but it really is equal when it deals with subjects a lot smaller, it's not all about the grand plan.