I don't have this kind of insecurity about my job, I'm good at it and I can say so. I know how to gauge that, how to up-skill and reinvent, reinterpret, keep fresh. I am inspired by my students and my colleagues in the English department and rarely too tired or otherwise turned off to make most days a good day at the office. There is an element of performance in teaching and of course a script in the form of a syllabus and prescribed texts.
What is mostly different about writing then is that to be in any way relevant and worth bothering with, honest exposure is demanded. There is nowhere to hide once a poem is out there. I write to see what happens to a poem when I write it, to be read and listened to. The interesting thing then is how the resulting poems will be received. When someone says they like a poem, or they want a copy of a poem I know I've done something right, if something doesn't go down that well I need to put it and myself through our paces again.
Having poems accepted for publication in journals is the biggest indicator to me that I'm not kidding myself. An editor believes his or her journal will be better with my poem in it. That never ceases to delight me. Reading at Over the Edge is a big next step, a chance to gauge live feedback from an audience outside the parish, to try out some new poems and feel part of something shared.
And I'm very glad of the opportunity it affords me to feel entitled to be called a poet for the night!
The house is full of words-
bundles of them sit on the stairs,
in the smudges on the windowpanes,
others are lifted on the draught
when a door is closed too suddenly.
Tonight we are all plans,
colluding in the beginning of something
that might be massive.
Scrabble tiles in their box turn,
rattle toward the sound of our voices,
drawn by some magnetism
that pulls and repels the best of us,
the worst of us.
There is poetry on the bedside locker
and at the end of the bath
and slumping on the window sills in the study.
By the table is a pile, two foot high,
(some two months old)
and the hope, if not the certainty,
that by week’s end we will have read them.
For there is hope in all these words
in the lyric of chatter and jokes and opinion
in the Here, listen to this we read each other.
And there is Summer, all twenty months of her,
threading words together like coloured beads
Sincerely, intently she tries them on
surprises us all, tells her brothers Yes,
I get it, pretty girl, pretiful girl.
And I need to get it all down
all this wordy worthy chatter. All the gaps it fills,
the way it expands to fit around us.