One of the things I’ve struggled with in the couple of years I’ve been writing poetry is the extent to which a poem needs to be accurate – what I mean is, a truthful account of what actually happened. My instinct was that I had to stick to the facts. This was arguably derived from my last job, where I had to be able to back up any claim I made with evidence. Learning to do things differently – to focus on emotional truth and to stop trying to fit every detail in – has been quite difficult for me. The breakthrough moment was on Will Harris’s Poetry and Philosophy course, where we were told to start a poem with a lie. The poem that came out of that, ‘Making Space’ is probably the most emotionally truthful thing I’ve written, and definitely the least accurate (my mum’s ghost doesn’t come and sit on the side of my bed at night!). Which doesn’t mean that I think I’ve cracked it, but since then I’m much quicker to see and cut the stuff that just doesn’t need to be in the poem, however true it is.
There’s a link to ‘Making Space’ below, along with some other poems I’ve had published in July and August.