|Pic borrowed from Kellie Elmore|
As a method of overcoming writers' block, the technique of so-called 'free writing' is one that is well established. However, in the absence of a sense of writers' block, it is also a very good technique to apply in helping uncover a new poem. Try it! Give yourself a prompt, which might be anything, any thing at all, and set your timer for say ten minutes. Begin writing when you start the timer and write continuously until the buzzer sounds without once lifting the pen from the page. Don't worry about punctuation, just keep writing – keep on keeping on. It's good to get into a 'stream of consciousness' kind of mode, where the words seem to flow with a current of their own. Don't forget, you're not attempting to craft a poem at this point in the exercise, merely to get some thoughts down on the paper (or in your word processor; now there's an antiquated word – you might use that as your prompt). Once you've finished writing, that's the time to review what you have produced to see if there's something in there than can be used for a poem. If you're any kind of writer, there's likely to be a line or two or some phrase appear that's crying out to be turned into a poem. If not, don't be overly concerned; treat it as therapy – and have another go tomorrow.
The Free Write
So I'm engaged on a free write about love based on a line from a W. H. Auden poem I have to choose in advance and what for does the W stand I ask inwardly curious and I recall it's Wystan well that's a good Anglo-Saxon name with a sound to rival those Troubadours of Occitania or those Latin lovers Lothario and Romeo and that's about seventy-five seconds so far crikey still over eight minutes to go anyway I was going to use He was my North, my South, my East and West from Stop all the Clocks which is about the love that dare not speak its name but that doesn't mean I can't write I can't stop until the timer shouts does love mean stop when she cries stop or does one do the gentlemanly thing and carry on regardless I've started so I'll finish but that's more to do with lust than love and north and south makes me think of compass needles pointing to places we've been but the needle points to magnetic north so if you placed a compass between me and her it'd be attracted her way just as am I by some directionally compelling synchronising force that runs along an invisible conduit a hyper-sensitive intra-neurological pathway from her to me that conveys unspoken words and now for some banal reason I'm reminded of those Love is cartoons that used to appear on the back page of the Daily Mail I wonder if they're still there Love is... not realising she suffers sometimes from bellicosis insert smiley face well that's bollocks 'cos it's a fresh-minted word I've just created there's also alliteration in there and it's not biographical but biologically speaking truly love is not caring if she is combative and that's because of endorphins in the brain raising the painfully aware threshold and you know there is a certain kind of telepathy associated with love you know the simple things like automatically reaching out for her hand when you're out walking without having to demand a paw and what's that other form of tele-something I know what I'm trying to remember it's telekinesis which is what some of those Marvellous superheroes have as their superpower I wonder if I could use telekinesis to get her pants down now we're back to lust again and isn't that associated with the release of endorphins and my one track mind or is it merely the seven second rule no it's dopamine which is strangely appropriate don't you think I'm her dope true and incidentally the seven second rule isn't factual as evidenced by a study conducted by some university last year it averages out at eighteen times a day which means men think about sex more than they think about food based on having three square meals a day and there's few who would have sex three times a day seven days a week so in contrast to eating thinking about sex is likely to be more satisfying than the actuality of it speak for yourself I thought as she appeared from the direction of the bedroom to ask about what was I writing to which I answered I'm doing a free write on love to which she retorted what do you know about love let me show you I said...
So that took all of 8 minutes – the free write, I mean – which goes to prove that love is never having to say, “Hang on a minute, while I finish this free write.”
From my free write based on the line 'He was my North, my South, my East and West' I derived the lines below. This is not a poem. It's a collection of rhymed and un-rhymed lines, some of which contain iambs, some trochees – maybe there's an anapaest or two in there (to the depths of a mind) – and some of which have end rhymes, and some with internal rhyme, and there's a sprinkling of alliteration too, which classical components somehow, somewhere, sometime, will end up as a poem – perhaps.
Like a pipeline to places where only we've been
to places no other will ever have seen
a pathway from pleasure to the depths of a mind
that's in synch with another for that moment in time
where no words are uttered, for what would you say
that moody blue eyes cannot already convey
in a cavern of infinite space ensconced in embrace
and every thing's distilled in the sensation of touch
and she smells like I taste and I taste like she smells
and all we can hear is that symphony of bells.