I was having a clear up of the poetry den this week when I came across an old journal of my poetry. This was a collection of poems I had written between 1987 and 1989.
At the time I was working as a police officer in London and part of a unit dealing with major crime and disorder. The work was, at times, dangerous and handling high levels of stress and pressure was commonplace.
Writing these poems was a release valve, a time out to relax and get some thoughts and emotions down on paper. In 1989 I felt these poems were worthy of Shakespearian adoration. For whatever reason they never got any further than the bottom drawer.
Over twenty-five years later it was strange experience reading them again.
The Shakespearian delusions were shattered but, on reflection, I realised I had a number of useful drafts that could be moulded into pieces of poetry.
This made me think, is a poem ever finished?
Writing a poem is a snapshot in time. A photo of our thoughts, feelings and emotions in that moment.
We draft, re-draft, ponder, spend days mulling over changing a full stop into a comma.
The poem goes away and when we reacquaint ourselves with it, something has changed. Our lives are different; we are no longer the same people in that same moment.
If Sir John Betjeman was alive today would he change the words and tone of his poem Slough?
Would Wordsworth wake up in a sweat and re-write Daffodils?
I would love to hear your thoughts on this.