Consciously Poetic

A few days ago I finished editing my first poetry collection. This somewhat daunting experience has prompted me to evaluate my relationship with the form.
For many years my mental health and writing were interconnected; my moods and states of mind dictating the nature of the poems I produced. Frequently, distressing thoughts would drive me to lift a pen and pour onto paper the contents of my tormented psyche. I wrote for myself, as a means of expression and never contemplated sharing my pain. Thus, the content of my poems was paramount and form as irrelevant, to my world, as the pursuit of happiness.
Years later, I summoned the courage to submit a poem to a poetry competition. Having studied poetry at degree level and for my own pleasure, I was only too aware of my own literary ineptitude. My submission, however, seemed worthy in its employment of alliteration and metaphor and existed as a signifier of my state of being, at that time. Although I did not win the competition, my poem was published in an anthology and I was to see my name in print for the first time.
At that time, my poems acceptance for publication affirmed that I had some form of literary ability; maybe I was not the mental elf that my lack of self-confidence had betrayed me into believing.
When editing my poetry collection, I once again experienced nags of self-doubt. I can write…but…so what…half the world believe themselves potential writers or celebrities. The world is deluded, am I? A publisher had accepted my collection for publication. Nevertheless, publishers make mistakes!
Now that my poetry exists beyond the confines of my laptop, I can tell myself, with a reasonable level of conviction, that reactions to literature are subjective. Undoubtedly, some readers will dislike and criticise my work. However, there will be others for whom it is meaningful. Like the individual, a poem can be pulled apart, but will always remain a unity in-itself.


My Life: The Road to being Published

There is a widely held conception that everybody, “has a book, in them.” Whilst this could not be more true, most people do not write that book. I have spent my life desirous to fulfil my ambition to become a writer. Never content to be a just a person who scribbled poems upon the backs of envelopes and delineated my thoughts in notebooks framed in psychedelic doodles, I yearned for the validation of my creative spirit and to see my name in print. Now, that I have achieved this, I know that I will do so many more times. This is the beginning of a new stage in my life, a life from which I used to hide, in shame.
My first novel, “The General Paralysis of Sanity,” started life as an exercise in catharsis. Years ago, after my last and particularly traumatic admission to a psychiatric hospital, I released my pain in literary productivity. Writing my novel became a forum for encoding my negative experiences in the guise of the creation of a character who was blatantly not myself. Although not autobiographical, my novel borrowed and reconstituted elements of myself. Writing it was not always easy but, after each session on my laptop I felt rewarded and more self-confident than before I had started.
Lifestyle changes meant that I moved location and ended up living across the borders in Scotland, where serendipity surfaced and I started to see a psychiatrist who was unusually literary in his interests. Not only was Dr H interested in my novel, he actually wanted to read it. Thus, began the tides of change…
He seemed genuinely surprised that someone with my history of psychiatric suffering should be capable of writing with lucid insight about the nature of mental distress. I have always believed that he suspected that cognitive impairment would undermine my literary ability but, I have been determined not to allow my “illness” to destroy, “the real me.” Dr H claimed that my work should be published and, subsequently, gave me the details of the foremost publisher of books by people who have experienced mental health problems. I emailed my book to Chipmunkapublishing and, the rest, as they say, is history.
Today, I not only await the imminent publication of my first collection of poetry, I am, also, engaged in writing another novel. In fact I am re-engaged with life.