I’ve sometimes felt compelled to demystify the writing process, to deny the romantic view of the inspired writer, which belies the sheer labour that goes into making a poem, hides the all-important editorial blood-sweat-and-tears, the enlivening but sometimes endless-seeming work of fine-tuning. But for me there’s also a dimension of the writing process that is effortless — even the sometimes excruciating effort of fine-tuning can feel effortless. A real paradox.
I think what I mean when I say that the effort feels effortless is that I’m responding to a call from something in the world. Something, some situation, presents itself to me as imbued with lyric intensity, and to respond is second nature. An urge to respond just “flowers forth.” I don’t think poets are the only people to be called by aspects of the world and who feel the urge to respond; that’s just part of what it is to be human - we’re responsive, susceptible, if sometimes more so than at other times. And response can take many forms. But for me, to respond is often to make a poem, i.e. to work to build an instrument that helps me — and, if I manage to do it well enough, possibly others — to align myself appropriately with the world.
- Sue Sinclair, in conversation with Susan Gillis over on her blog Concrete & River. You can read the whole interview here.
I'm thrilled to see that Susan has started publishing interviews on her blog. You can read more of Susan's interviews with poets here.