I was talking recently to Tony Watts, one of Taunton’s Fire River Poets, and he was telling me that he never knows where the next poem will come from, or for that matter if one will come. I had to agree with this. I never know when the next poem will call, but I do have faith that one will, at some point, arrive. Is this simple optimism? No. I am always on the lookout for ideas and I know that eventually these will coalesce in some form or other.
It can be very interesting trying to divine where the ideas come from, what influences shape our writing. I recently read China Mielville’s The City & The City. This is a meditation on identity, culture and reality. Essentially there is one large city that is split into two different countries, the borders are random and the population of each city has learned to “unsee” the other. These thoughts are dressed in a detective story.
This was an idea that I frequently returned to in my head, so it came as no surprise when I wrote the following:
Sometimes, I am invisible,
Can pass through the crowd unseen,
Not noticed, walked into, anonymous.
In another life I would have tailed you,
Noted your conversation,
Those you stopped to talk with,
Then reported you for some meaningless infraction.
Here, you bump into me,
I am out of phase, happy not to be seen.
You do not follow me,
For I keep watch.
I can see that something in China’s book has chimed in me. The idea of two worlds touching but the people in each unseeing the other I find rather powerful, but there again, I am a sucker for any parallel world story. Perhaps the roots of some poems are easier to discern than others.