When is a poem finished?

Sometimes poems appear like rare butterflies; you have to swiftly capture them or they fly away again. A poet friend of mine has been known – in the absence of a notebook – to ‘catch’ a poem on the back of a cornflake packet. I am lucky to have had this experience myself; an idea comes into my head and flows via the pen or keyboard into a first draft of a poem on the page. It is hard not be pleased with yourself when you create something that didn’t exist before – especially if it contains an original idea. First drafts are often the most fun to write, with the highest reward-to-effort ratio. But then comes revision.

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Portrait of an uncle and bon vivant

One evening, on a sailing holiday in Turkey many years ago, our party of eight caught a ferry from our marina to nearby Fethiye for dinner.
It was nearing the end of a week’s bareboat cruise along the Turquoise Coast and we were in high spirits. As we sat around the dinner table, giggling at how silly we looked in our Fez hats, the challenges of the week (sea-sickness, blocked toilets, a lost anchor) were honed into war stories for the pub. On the return trip we started to sing.

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New Year’s resolution #2: Do less housework

Resolution # 1 was to write more. When I made it, I realised it could only be accomplished by resolution #2. I doubt that there has been a woman who lay on her deathbed wishing she had done more about the house. My mother certainly didn’t wish she had, and she would know; she made a career of it. So if this was to be the year I would spend less time doing chores, the problem was, how?

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Morning Song

Love set you going like a fat gold watch…

So begins Sylvia Plath’s poem Morning Song, written in 1961 as a tribute to her baby daughter, Frieda. Read the whole poem here.  What a fabulous gift from mother to child? It takes me back to the joy I felt the day I brought my first baby daughter home from hospital. I could hardly believe that they let us leave with her. So tiny and pink with hands like miniature starfish waving their fronds.