Sunday, 11 February 2018

Holding on

I have realised that I want things written down on a piece of paper that I can hold in my hands. This does not mean that I can't, for example, enjoy listening to someone reading or performing their poetry. It just means that at the end of it I want a piece of paper with the poem on it. Which, of course, may not be what the poet wanted, unless they are selling their book, in which case I am the ideal customer.

Why do I want that? Partly because that is my way of taking things in. Partly poor memory. But I think there's more to it than that.

I have been trying hard to watch birds, rather than automatically reach for my camera. I know that, however good the photo may be (but in my case, rarely is), it cannot match the bird itself - the feeling, the joy on seeing it, but it can sometimes evoke something of it, perhaps help me see it better, or differently - or perhaps just help me to remember the moment.  

And in that, I think I recognise one of the reasons I want things in writing - which I have now extended to mean in any form which I can hold on to : I have not really come to terms with transience. I want to capture feelings and moments and keep them. More, I have a fear of losing them. (I know - hardly unique.)

I love poetry which captures something worth holding on to - and when it does, I want to hold on to it. It's also why I still take photos - and even print them - and it's what I try to achieve when I write poetry.

Not everyone can hold on to things this way. Many have found other ingenious ways to do so. I hope that everyone finds their way.  Or perhaps finds a way to come to terms with transience?

I have just read Helen Dunmore's 'Inside the Wave', which moved me to tears, and I thought, yes, perhaps it is possible to come to terms with it. But I'm still not sure. If I write a poem which helps me understand, capture, hold on to something - is it just for me, or do I want someone else to read it, and not just respond to the feeling or moment evoked, but also remember me? To hold on to me. 

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