I write by hand on blank printer paper. I don’t like to write in a nice-looking notebook or with a special pen. I prefer a stubby pencil or ballpoint pen with some bank’s name on it, something that lets me be as messy as I want and lowers my expectations of the product. Even if I think the poem’s not going well, I usually type it up and then try to leave it alone for a few days, so I’ll be able to re-see it.
A desk at a window is good, a random poetry journal to flip through, maybe music in the background if the songs aren’t in English. I can’t do it every day, but I produce about a poem a week, many of which aren’t keepers but contain the seeds of future poems. A walk, preferably in the park, helps me think through the problems I’m having with a poem. Walking allows my mind to untie the knots.
I started writing poems when I was very young. As a teenager, I thought my poems were songs that should be set to music. (I didn’t know about contemporary poetry.). But I failed to find anyone willing to set my songs to music, mostly because they were terrible.
My audience is anyone who enjoys poetry – a small but high-quality audience. I don’t write for myself, but I love being in the trance-like state of composing. Opening an acceptance email is always euphoric. The hardest thing for any writer, I think, is the ongoing rejection. You have to decide at some point if you’ll be more miserable if you give it up or if you keep at it, knowing the rejection letters will never stop arriving, but that your best work will reach some readers and move them.
Check out Hilary’s work in Volume 4, Issue 1.