Happy International Women’s Day!
‘Poems sometimes arrive during a daydream’
Today we celebrate International Women’s Day with March’s featured poet, Josephine Corcoran, on how she approaches the business of writing a poem.
I was at a Poetry Business Writing Day in Sheffield in January, and poet and tutor Ann Sansom told us not to be surprised if we wrote a finished, or near-finished, poem during the workshop. “You might have been carrying the idea for this poem in your head for weeks, months, or even years,” Ann said, explaining that a writing prompt can sometimes act as the trigger we’ve been missing. This is definitely true for me. I spend a lot of time thinking about poems before I start writing, and then, once I’ve begun a poem, I can spend years trapped inside it, not knowing how to reach the end. Often it’s reading other people’s poems which help me find the way. A lot of the Writing Day prompts were based on poems so this explains why they’re very helpful.
Ideas for my poems arrive via jokes, overheard remarks, dreams, memories, news items, films and radio programmes (I don’t watch much telly), images, and via other poems, of course.
I often work on several poems at once. I tinker with a poem until I’m stuck then move on to another one. In between, I try to keep all my channels open, reading, observing, listening, and jotting down phrases, words, lines in my notebook. It’s all a mystery, really. I wish I could follow the same formula every day and produce a manuscript of poems at the end of every week. The reality is, I’m a slow, daydreamy writer but poems sometimes arrive during a daydream.
Josephine Corcoran’s pamphlet The Misplaced House was published by tall-lighthouse in November 2014. She is the founder and editor of And Other Poems an online poetry journal.