May 15, 2005


Ever since the Ty Newydd course in sixth form, I have considered myself a poet, and I have to say, my opinion hasn’t changed over the course of this year. I don’t think I really had a true appreciation for the art behind, and inside, poetry before I began to write it, and I had no concept of the ideas that could spark a poem to be written. I think the best way to describe how I write a poem, would be to say it’s like a sparkler. Once it is lit, it remains bright and fiery for a few minutes, lighting the sky up to such an extent that you cannot see anything but it. And then, suddenly, it will reach the end, and burn out, leaving the stem useless. I can never predict when I will inspired to write a poem; I know what my themes are, and when I have a deadline to reach, I will manage to find that inspiration in time, but very rarely will I have any idea what it will be, until it finally hits me. A perfect example of this is my poem “The Clown”, which is one of the poems I am submitting in this portfolio. At the very start of this term, I went with my family to see Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” at Stratford, performed by The Royal Shakespeare Company. A great number of my poems that I have written over the year, have been about a theatre production I have been to see, so I was aware that I might be struck by inspiration either during, or just after the play. However, it was not until two weeks later, very early one morning, that suddenly I knew what I would write; it would be a villanelle about the character, Feste, and I had my first line within a matter of seconds. I know from experience, that if I write the poem as soon as I have receive this spark, the poem will flow easily, and need little redrafting, whereas if I wait, I’ll loose the momentum, the words, and will probably never find them again.

It never ceases to amaze me, how I can hold a biro to a piece of paper, and somehow words will flow onto the page that I never would have thought could produce the kind of poetry that I come out with. I am not ashamed to admit that my poetry is my pride and joy, and something that I know I am good at. I am also fully aware that I have a long way to go before I can truly achieve in the literary world. However, my ability to write poetry has given me the kind of confidence I have never felt before, and has encouraged me to enter several competitions, and share my work with a large audience, including those at open-mic nights. With each poem I write, my confidence grows, as I find myself able to admire the words and styles that I am able to use and manipulate to my own purpose. Poetry is my own form of magic that is exclusive to me, and can only ever be understood by me.

The other way in which my attitude towards poetry has changed over the year, is towards the use of form. Prior to coming to Warwick, I had always written in free verse, vaguely aware that there were various forms of poetry out there, but with no idea about how they worked. I spent the first five weeks of the course, hating form with a vengeance, spending hours struggling over iambic pentameter and rhyming sequences that didn’t seem to make any sense. I couldn’t wait until I was free to write in free verse again, instead of within these ridiculous rules and conventions, with odd Italian-sounding names. It was like I was wearing a corset; to begin with, I couldn’t breathe, or move, and I felt suffocated. And then, as I got used to the shape, I turned and looked in the mirror, and realised how good I looked in it, and instead of the corset being made to shape me, I was made for the corset. I began to relish the use of form, once I was free to write however I wanted, and as my courage grew and grew, until I felt I was good enough to play around with the form, and adapt it and manipulate it to suit my purposes. I discovered the magic that came from sitting down to write a poem, and yet, because of the form dictating the words I used, the meaning ended up as something completely different to what I had intended. I have learnt to find form beautiful, and through experimentation during the year, have found the ones that best suit me, and played with them, until they are my own.

I read once that “a poet is born, not made [but] the reverse of this is also true. The gifts of the poet are innate, but the imagination and inspiration that belong to the poet are only half the story. The poet’s art must be learned.” (Hudson, vii). It is only over this last year that I have come to realise how true this is; no one could ever write the way I do, because it is individual to me, it comes from the very core of what makes me me, just as I could never write like anyone else. And yet, this does not mean that creative writing cannot be taught. In some ways, it means that it is even more important that creative writing is taught. Poets, writers, critics, need to learn how to harness their imagination, to make it work to their best advantage, for only then, can they truly produce a piece of wonderful writing.

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