Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Getting to Wirk (sorry)

Driving the leaf-rich lanes that lead from South Derbyshire to Hathersage this morning, I thought back to last night's inaugural Derbyshire Laureate event in Wirksworth library and realised I still didn't know the answers to some of the questions that came up in the Q & A:

How do you select poems for a collection?

What's a typical writing day like for you? 

How do you know when a poem's finished?

The best questions are the ones you ponder for days and never quite get to the bottom of.

In fact, poems can make you feel like that too. For me, a good poem is often both question and answer at once. Lines that make all explanation seem unnecessary but, at the same time, subtly answer the reader. Perhaps that's why poets can seem so inarticulate in face-to-face settings: we're used to working things out on the page.

Thought-provoking questions and all, it was great to read some of my poems to a full house at Wirksworth library, including many members of the Wirksworth Word Miners. With the thriving arts festival and art trail, Wirksworth was an exciting place to start the laureateship. It had been years since I walked the calf-punishing back streets up to the quarry, or had a pint in The Hope and Anchor. This morning, I woke up to sunshine and dramatic pewter skies in Kirk Ireton, where I'd stayed with brilliant artist Heather Duncan and her family. As part of the laureateship, I'm looking forward to collaborating with artists who work in different mediums and it was inspiring to look at the ways Heather portrays landscape and perspective, a theme I talked about in the reading last night too.

Now, it's back to the desk where I'm working on my first commission - a poem to mark the twinning of Derby with Toyota City. Autumn's in full swing, there's a freshness in the air and, in the parks, whippets get leaves stuck on their heads....

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