Funny thing of the day. Got a scheduled phone call at work from AA whom I’ve not spoken to for an age. ‘I don’t need to ask you how you are. I’ve been reading your blog,’ they said. That made me blush a little. And made me think it might be time to reiterate (and maybe post somewhere permanently on here) that these are my personal thoughts and entirely unconnected with work or who I work for. It also made me ask myself what I’ve been asking myself since I started this little exercise at the beginning of the year: Are my thoughts even worth reading, never mind expressing? Do I reveal too much of my real self here (or anywhere, for that matter)? Is this a confessional or a chronicle of fact? I suppose what is certain is that if I ever turn this blog into a book it will be called The Fragmentary.
There is a lingering sadness that I couldn’t enter my poem about (to) TS Eliot in the National Poetry Competition, because I wrote it straight into this blog earlier this year (16th January, to be precise) and thereby published it, rendering it ineligible. Especially as this is the 100th anniversary of the publication of The Waste Land (and I still haven’t found my Collected Works of Eliot’s, which has been my bible since I bought it in 1981 – it is probably still in a box somewhere and will not surface in the foreseeable future bearing in mind everything that’s happening and changing in this place), and the poem is a direct response to the first line of that poem. Mind you, it’s interesting to note that Eliot always said there was no room in poetry for emotion, denied his feelings for several women when recently published letters bear witness to the exact opposite. He was not a very nice man, by all accounts, at least not in his treatment of women or minorities.
How can you write a poem that’s not about love, or at least not driven by love? Even protest poetry, political poetry, is written from love, the love of freedom, the love of a cause, the love of justice, the love of the planet, the love of equality. That’s the most basic of emotions right there, and I always think Eliot’s poetry is one of love, usually discarded; his love discarded and broken, his life made uncertain, he made uncertain, by the pains of love he went through, by this conflict between his need to create and hs need to earn money. And even conflict is emotion, surely? One of these days, I will no doubt find a clever book that explains him to me, although, in truth, his poetry explains him to me in a way he thought and maintained he could and should never be explained to other people. I did read a piece by a contemporary poet recently in which she said that her aim was to adhere to Eliot’s principle of excluding emotion from poetry. I must admit I find that a very weird view.
Poetry is love.
AGGIE’S ART OF HAPPINESS – CHAPTER 238