I just wrote a poem for the first time in a long, long time. Too long. Poetry has traditionally scared me. I always think of myself as a prose writer – plenty space and freedom to say what I want, plenty of room to move about, explore, develop. Writing a novel is like taking a huge journey where it’s okay to take the odd detour now and again.
Poetry, now poetry for me is a different thing entirely. Rhyme used to scare me witless but I recently found out what some of those terrifying poetry words mean that you get told in school but never really explained. Technical words that looked so complicated they took on a magical, other worldly quality. The basic reasoning was – I’ll never do any of that.
So when my old friend Rosie Lesso asked me to contribute to a book of poetry and drawings to be published next year my first thought was to somehow avoid having to write an actual poem. Right up until yesterday I was going to do a short prose piece. However somewhere along the line I started to write a poem. I thought of one verse first of all – one of the middle ones.
It had a certain beat and it sounded nice. From that I built up the rest of the verses, all to tell this miniature tale. At some point near the end, as I read it back to myself I realised that the thing actually kind of rhymed. Lo and behold, this was not what I was expecting but I went with it. Of course once I had realised it rhymed I then had to make the rest of it rhyme too which was more of a challenge but not an insurmountable one. It took a little longer but it was actually fun to have that restriction. It made me look at the words, say them out loud, piece them together, find new words.
So yes, I’m now a convert to poetry and I’m looking forward to writing more. By the way, I wanted to include this picture of some gannets as these birds and their activities on the East coast of Scotland, near Edinburgh, inspired the poem as a whole. The book will be out next year and I will be sure to let you know all about it at that time!