I can't write poetry at the moment. I can write shit poetry. I could even write good poetry I don't much like. But I can't write the poetry I want to. And at the moment I don't much want to.

At first it was a deliberate hiatus to refresh myself for a little. That was when I had an interview for the creative writing MA that I didn't get on to. During that period I started playing more with visual ideas and with other forms of writing. There were very occasional poems but no desire to write. Although I've been writing quite a lot I seem to be less disciplined and dedicated. Some of the writing I'm very happy with, but on the whole most of it I'm not really very interested in. A lot of it is actually quite boring and conservative from my point of view. That's for another time though. The subject here is a difference between my poetry and my scripts and short stories that's only become apparent in the last few weeks.

It started with wondering why I haven't been writing any poetry when scripts and short stories have been relatively easy to produce. The obvious thing was to look at the differences between the forms. Poetry, although I've always worked hard at it, has been primarily a means of exploring personal problems and obssessions. Whereas my other fiction writing has been about exploring how invented characters might react in given situations. And yet I'm writing, the characters often share traits with me or people I know, and the events are frequently real. So why should scripts or short stories be any different?

I think it's because there is a distance. Because it's not a driect expression of personal thoughts, because however convincingly you occupy a character you're directing your emotional response through their experience and personality. It is a lot like acting. As I may have mentioned before Stanislavski's An Actor Prepares on the internal preparation for a role, including how to draw on emotion memory has been an important text to me for around ten years. It can lead to me exhausting myself in attempt to fully occupy a character, but ultimately it means that I am never myself when writing about other people. It means that the more personal obssessions come out elsewhere - in descriptions, or in the structure of a piece. So the difference is that poetry is me unmediated, while scripts and short stories represent an attempt to engage with other people.

None of which is much help in explaining why I don't much want to write poetry at present. I just don't know. Another time maybe.


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