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The value of reading good writing

Over periods in my life, I often feel creatively dead.  Day to-day mundanities stifle the part of me that I love most. Reading average books creates average thoughts and starve my spirit of stimuli.  Last week I finished reading Philip Larkins novel ‘A Girl in Winter’, the quality of the work immediately reawakened the part of me which fully appreciates the multifaceted diamond of the everyday.  I then turned to an old much-loved poetry anthology and was amazed when it opened on one of my favourite poems ‘The Red Wheelbarrow’ by William Carlos Williams which stands as a benchmark in the art of capturing simplicity

“so much depends
upon

a red wheel
barrow

glazed with rain
water

beside the white
chickens.”

I then turned to read some poetry by Philip Larkin, the poem ‘Ambulances’ also reminds that there is poetry around us all the time, we just have to SEE.  A poet is not a poet when the soul eye is shut.

Ambulances
Philip Larkin

Closed like confessionals, they thread
Loud noons of cities, giving back
None of the glances they absorb.
Light glossy grey, arms on a plaque,
They come to rest at any kerb:
All streets in time are visited.

Then children strewn on steps or road,
Or women coming from the shops
Past smells of different dinners, see
A wild white face that overtops
Red stretcher-blankets momently
As it is carried in and stowed,

And sense the solving emptiness
That lies just under all we do,
And for a second get it whole,
So permanent and blank and true.
The fastened doors recede. Poor soul,
They whisper at their own distress;

For borne away in deadened air
May go the sudden shut of loss
Round something nearly at an end,
And what cohered in it across
The years, the unique random blend
Of families and fashions, there

At last begin to loosen. Far
From the exchange of love to lie
Unreachable inside a room
The traffic parts to let go by
Brings closer what is left to come,
And dulls to distance all we are.”

Believe it or not I’m making a point, immediately after closing the poetry anthology, I wrote two poems, one about a friend who is at a crossroads in her marriage and the one below.  I resolve that I need to read great poetry far more regularly, if I do not it is absolutely impossible to write anything that I am halfway happy with.   This post is a reminder to me.

Hmmm no title yet (any suggestions?)

I treated my muse

as a stuffed songless thing

Forgotten treasure with dust on her wing

My soul forgot to listen

She never forgot to sing

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