Writing of the lady from Spain
I keep at least one notebook by the bed. I try to write in one of these for a few minutes when I wake in the morning. So my first drafts are usually handwritten. When I look back through a notebook after a few weeks, I look for anything that engages me, I type these bits into my computer notebook for that year.
What I put in my notebooks sometimes comes from a conscious preoccupation, but I hardly ever start with an idea or theme I want to develop in a poem. I like finding, as I look back in a journal, how preoccupations emerge.
Some mornings I use a line from a writer, not necessarily a poet, as a starter. ‘Not seeing the lady from Spain’ begins with the title of a song, ‘Lost is my Quiet’ that was on my mind at the time I wrote the poem. How it took me into a recollection from my childhood, I’m not sure, except that I think most people remember some occasions, even in the happiest childhoods, where the world seemed too big and too hard.
So I was disquieted and unhappy when I tried as a six-year-old to go to see a magician whose performance had been advertised on a poster, and couldn’t find the hall. I made up the bits about the lady from Spain, but they’re true in the sense that the idea of anyone from outside the world that was the small town I grew up in seemed exotic and romantic. Of course I wouldn’t have used those adjectives. I still wish I could have seen that magic show.
I have to trust that I will make more poems. Each time I finish one or decide I can do nothing more for it, I am fearful there will be no other poems to come, but if I keep writing and working on what I’ve written, generally some poems grow quite tall and stand up straight.