As for separating out the forms, I have to say that things come as they will – ideas, images, rhythms. I compose poetry ‘on the lips’ (or to put it less lyrically, in my head) then write the lines down when they have formed (though not before). Prose, I get ideas while on the move, but I have to jot down notes, scribbles, impatient doodles, maps – just to try things out before I am ready to start writing. This means that I draft prose stuff on paper, but not poetry. So what separates the two mostly is the method. In prose, I’d say the ideas that interest me get tangled up with ..
Th is my goodbye and thank you after almost two years of writing my Times poetry column. I have loved reading the piles of poetry books – thank you to all the publishers who sent them; I have also loved reading your e-mails and letters. You demonstrated how a poem in the column could go off and have another life; comments, discussions and readers’ poems abounded. And I have loved writing about the poems, trying to relate them to our hopes and anxieties as human beings in my belief that there is a poem for everyone – even a trucker on the M1 who reads nothing more challenging than his sat-nav. Because to say “I don’t like poetry” is like saying “I don’t like music”. It’s a case