Leo Tolstoy

Are Poets Just Lazy Writers?

Are Poets Just Lazy Writers_

Thank you all for taking part in last week’s post, Even Poets Can Be Funny. Your responses kept me smiling well into the weekend. Mrs D got in the act suggesting my humour was like me, best kept in a MOOseum. Hopefully we can have a few more posts like this throughout the year.

In today’s Thursday Thoughts I am returning to the exploration and journey through poetry and a question asked at a writing meetup I attended a few weeks ago, “are poets just lazy writers?” My first reaction was to go on the defensive, but I took the question home with me and it has opened some interesting ideas and reflection.

Poetry can appear, from the outside, to be a writing form taking less time and effort than other types of writing. Compare, for example, one of Issa’s Haikus with Tolstoy’s War and Peace and the finished work on paper can lead to the impression poetry is a less time consuming and challenging activity.

At the same meeting I was asked, “How long does it take you to write a poem?” My answer was “55 years…. at the moment”, because each poem I write contains every ounce of my being going back to the time I took my first breath. This would be no different whether writing a novel, short story or a six-line poem.

Sometimes an idea for a poem can sit in my head for weeks and only after a hundred miles of walking and pondering will the first draft make it on paper. Then there is the drawn-out process of reducing the 1000 words of mayhem into something resembling poetry.  Many poems are put to one side in journals or files and may not see the light of day for months or even years.  In among all this there are the hours of doubt and frustration and a process that may be taking place with numerous poems at any one time. There are many words I could use to describe poets but lazy would not be one of them.

C.K. Williams said  his poem, The Hearth (in the singing), took twenty-five years to write and there are many other poets whose poetry and collections were the product of years of hard work.  Each one an example  poets are far from lazy writers.

Well that’s enough for this week. I have had my daily ten minutes of stretching the pen and grey matter; the log fire and armchair beckons (it’s a poet thing).

What are your views on this. Are poets lazy writers, or is there much more to the dark art? The floor is yours.