Tuesday, February 06, 2007


I was reading the week-end papers and found a comment attributed to Mike Ladd (from ABC Radio National's fab poetica programme) where he says 'poets are born'. I'm guessing he means that a poet can be taught the craft,(endless creative writing courses) but won't really be a poet unless...born to be one, to be a poet in every fiber of their being. I'm thinking about this now, since reading a comment on the Silliman blog which is sorta related. The original post was linked to an article about how a 'real writer has to write all the time', and the comment was teasing out that statement. In fact, several comments were teasing out that fact or not.

I'd like to agree with Mike Ladd, I'd like to be a poet who was born to do it, better that for me than, say, me being born to be an accountant, a glass blower, or boat builder and not because these would not be honorable professions, but because I have no interest in them and I would not enjoy doing that as much as I enjoy writing. I guess being born with talent for, or interest in a particular thing, (in my case poetry) is as far as I'm willing to push the envelope on this. For me, all the elements of creative language have been a craving, an itch (I do get cravings for sweets but have learned to curb them) and can curb the craving for poetry, but not the itch. I have an intense feeling for theatre and the visual arts also. When I hear or see something wonderful, I am intoxicated. It is the same for me with poetry. Writing it and reading it. I've been lucky in the jobs I've had, many in the creative arts field, but just as many in the dreary real world of everything not creative.

And on the notion that a writer is compelled to write and does so all the time, well, no actually.
Can't quite go there. Life is large enough to get in the way of writing, if the paid job or the home job is not a 'creative field' , if time permits writing happens, but if it can't be followed on with and can't be got at on a regular basis because the creative person has to earn some bucks, then does that mean that they are not really a writer, not really a poet?

I think the writing waits for me, many times since my pre-teens I have not written or published, but I have collected fragments of writing, I have remembered things, I have read things, and some of the experiences connected with my dull and ordinary life have been extraordinary enough to stick. My intellectual capacity has not been diminished by not writing and publishing my work all the time. My thoughts are still a process I can tap into at any time I want. Time being the thing here. Now I have ideas and too little time, but sometimes I have a lot of time and the ideas can be used. I also have a capacity to observe, observation being an essential tool for any writer, and I do have my imagination, another creative tool. So, I guess, that I can expect to be writing poetry until I cease breathing, even if I'm not a 'born poet' who is writing every day because I need to, as though writing poetry were some form of delusion or illness or some quaint body function that everyone has to do, but would rather not discuss.

Now I'm getting the itch back, I'll find a quiet spot and give it a real good scratch, as long as I don't go getting any fancy notions about being some kind of seer or visionary...and how good is it? My writing that is. And how good is your writing? How do poets know? Does an award matter? Do several awards matter? Does the number of books sold make it good? The number of pleasant mentions on a web page, the number of fans, the number of pals in networking positions, the number of ( )?
Anyone know or want to guess?


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