Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The urge to clear

Water's entering my cellar from the front garden and a broken soakaway and an unidentified leak next door. Damp wanders through the house with its smell and condensation. So there's a trench in the front garden and bags of earth and chalk from under the kitchen to dry it out. The dehumidifier's been going since the beginning of summer, the cellar hums constantly.
And I'm starting to associate this permanent drone with that recurring question - what is poetry for? I was reading recently at Lauderdale House in London with poets Lorna Thorpe and Shanta Acharya, plus George Hyde, translator of Mayakovsky. On the way from Brighton, on the train, Lorna and I were passing it between us. We didn't arrive at any conclusions, but maybe talking was enough to dispel some of the isolation that question induces.
Perhaps doubt is a motivator to write if it doesn't tip over into paralysis. The poet James Berry once said to me that writing was just about stamina. It is important just to keep going, not to worry about writing poems that don't make the grade - eventually they will.
I gave myself the summer to write and looking over the results I wonder how three months produced so little. But I guess anything is a bonus cradled in the autumnal urge to clear and re-arrange the furniture that this space also seems to have delivered - some basic need to prepare for winter, stack the logs, dig out the hot water bottles and stack up the recycled paper for another go at poems.