My guest today is novelist and poet, Tim Taylor, who has come along today to talk about poetry. So without further ado, it’s over to Tim.
Thank you very much for hosting me today, Patricia. Like you, I write both fiction and poetry. I find the process of writing very different between the two forms. For me, writing a novel is a bit like making a sculpture out of clay – you have an idea of what you’re after and you build towards it steadily, piece by piece, sometimes surprising yourself along the way. There’s a lot of shaping and editing to be done, of course, but what results from it will be a recognisable descendant of the original vision.
Writing poetry is much more haphazard. There is no certainty about what, if anything, will emerge – or when. I can often come up with a reasonable draft of a poem from scratch in three-quarters of an hour. Many others, though, will be discarded or remain indefinitely in my Work in Progress folder. Sometimes, however, failed first drafts contain the germ of an idea that is good enough to persevere with, and I may come back to them many times over months and years until – at least sometimes – they can finally be brought to fruition.
I recently completed a poem begun in 2014, which I had returned to over and over again, each time producing another version I wasn’t happy with. It lay dormant for a while, then a few weeks ago I received an e-mail reminder from a publisher about a deadline for submissions to an anthology – in two days’ time! I thought: oh, that poem would be great for the anthology – if only I could finish it! So I got my head down and ploughed through it yet again, and this time, finally, I managed to produce a version I was satisfied with – just hours before the deadline!
I’ll end with another poem of this kind. The core idea for it was lying around for ages. Every so often I would have a look at it and once again fail to come up with anything I could be satisfied with. I had a few lines and fragments of others, but couldn’t find a way to fit them together and fill in the gaps between. But I loved the idea, so I just had to keep plugging away, adding a line here, deleting a word there. Eventually – years later – this was what emerged:
The Old Couple
When they were young
their love was a thing of flame.
Colliding like two asteroids
they were magnificent
but sparks would leap from jagged edges.
Incandescent, they would fly apart,
only to spiral inwards once again.
Look at them now,
sitting to watch the sun go down,
still warmed by the embers of that ancient fire.
She leans on him, and he on her;
time has smoothed their curves and hollows,
sanded them to fit each other
like pebbles rubbed together by the sea.
The Old Couple was published in Acumen and in my poetry collection Sea Without a Shore.
Thank you, Tim, for a great blog. I can completely relate to everything you said. I have poems sitting in my computer archives from 2011 and sometimes come out for an airing but go back in again as still not ready. I love The Old Couple.
About Tim Taylor
Tim Taylor writes fiction and poetry. He has published two novels, Zeus of Ithome and Revolution Day, with Crooked Cat and a poetry collection, Sea Without a Shore, with Maytree Press. His poems and stories have won, or been shortlisted in, a number of competitions and appeared in various magazines (e.g. Acumen, Orbis, Pennine Platform) and anthologies. Tim lives in Meltham, West Yorkshire, teaches Ethics at Leeds University and enjoys playing the guitar and walking up hills (not usually at the same time).
Buy Tim Taylor’s Books HERE