New growth

No blog posts since just before Christmas....a disgrace in my own eyes, though I doubt anyone else has noticed!

But here we are, in early spring, and the signs are all around now: I'm seeing crocuses, snowdrops, even the bright flowers of the tiny tête-à-tête daffodils I bought in a pot to have indoors last spring. I planted them outside when they had finished blooming, and now they have come back. This small thing pleases me no end; their little flaring trumpets make me rejoice.

Yes, it has been a cold February, but the flowers are so encouraging; they bring hope....

Spring is also in my mind because I have been editing my forthcoming poetry collection Sudden Arabesque. Not only is the cover a wonderful image called "Easter" by artist Ruth End, there are quite a few poems about spring in it, or really about the impossibility of catching the spring, of rendering that delicate insinuation in the air, that hint of coming growth and green....poems trying to say in a fresh way what has been said before. It's the freshness in the expression of it that matters, I believe, and not the newness of the subject: for it's been well said that there is nothing new under the sun.

I find it a fruitful challenge to try to say in a poem why, not just in spring but in every season, the sight of some quite ordinary thing, or of an ordinary thing seen in a new moment or in a different light, can be so moving. Many of my poems are about what I've seen in my normal surroundings, in the small town of my home in the States, or the larger town I'm in now, walking around, looking at parks and gardens and hills and trees. The transformative moments in every-day life....

Even saying that sounds like a cliché! That's the struggle of poetry, the war on cliché (I think Martin Amis has used this title for a book....which illustrates that other writerly worry about inadvertently saying something in exactly the same words as someone else!).  But the struggle of writing, the meaty work of grappling with the language, building with it, playing with it, structuring and restructuring, knitting a sentence and then picking it apart...that's the work I love.

Only those who also do this work understand the joys of it, and the demands; the difficult tight-rope walk between hope and humility; the long slog, and the sudden shafts of light (all too infrequent).  We should support each other, and encourage each other when it seems too hard.

I wondered whether I would ever succeed in writing a whole novel, and not only did I manage it (after, it must be admitted, a ridiculously long time!) but the book found a publisher and won a prize. Many times a poem, like a sudoku puzzle, has seemed insoluble, but then the answer—though sometimes after months—does come.  I hoped that a publisher would want a book of my poems some day, but was never sure; so I am delighted now that Oversteps Books is bringing out Sudden Arabesque. 

These things have happened to me, so they can happen to other writers too. Onward and upward!