Peter Finch on How He Writes a Poem

For the month of April we have the inimitable Peter Finch musing on how to craft a poem:

Collect the data.  All of it.  Research endlessly.  Nothing should be below notice.  The more specialist the better.  Scour and store.  Absorb this stuff.  Think about it and then absorb some more.  When there’s enough the poem will emerge.

Don’t collect the data. Ignore it.  Go with whatever feels right and is in your head right now.

Read.  This was the best single piece of advice ever given to me. Absorb as much of the poetry of others as you possibly can.  It matters not a bit that some of this might rub off, might influence you, might make you a slightly less original poet.  Absorb it all like a sponge.  This is how culture progresses.

Actually there are two important things here.  Poetry can come out of the night, out of left field, out of the very air and strike you dumb and then garrulous as it pours.

It is also perfectly possible, and on many occasions highly desirable, to create poetry from nothing. To start with an empty head and produce. To make it a piece of work. Poetry is labour not glory.  It is hard won.  Start now.


zen cymruPeter Finch was born in Cardiff where he still lives.  He’s known as an edge pusher.  His last collection was Zen Cymru from Seren Books. He is currently working on the Machineries of Joy, a collection drawn from the work of the last 10 years.

His Real Cardiff The Flourishing City has just appeared from Seren.

You can get a ticket (free) to the launch of real Cardiff The Flourishing City from Eventbrite here.


To read more of Peter Finch’s work visit his website at