Wednesday, December 05, 2007

A Response from the Ether

'I Leave Myself' is in the latest issue of New Writing: The International Journal for the Practice and Theory of Creative Writing, alongside poems by Nigel McLoughlin and Stuart Pickford and various academic articles on - you guessed it - the practice and theory of creative writing. It's the first time, I think, that I've had creative work published in an avowedly academic journal. One consequence of submitting to that arena was that I received a copy of the peer-reviewer's report on the poems I submitted.

Whatever the reviewer's conclusion (reject/suggest changes/accept), it was extremely useful to have their comments and suggestions - something you don't usually get, understandably, from magazine editors working their way (for free!) through a pile of submissions. Although writers might have various peer-groups where they can talk about each other's work, it's unusual to get objective, anonymous feedback of this kind. As ever, some comments I agreed with, some I didn't - but the feeling (the evidence, rather) of having a human being respond in detail to a submission was agreeable.

The poem itself is 'after' Tadeusz Nowak, a Polish poet of whom I know almost nothing, in fact an expansion and adaptation of a translation that appears in an old anthology of Polish poetry (ed. Milosz, I think - don't have my books in the house). I didn't really get what was going on in the poem, except noting that it was full of Stuff, so my poem was an attempt to tease out all the possibility and dream-like content that I saw, hoping along the line to make sense of it. My sense, anyway. Along the way something funny happened to the line-breaks - trying to break the poem into what seemed like units of content, and trying to mirror formally my vaguely improvisatory approach and the jazz references in the content - which I rather like, but have never really reproduced as a technique elsewhere. Now that the poem's seen the light of publication, and I've gone back to read it again, maybe it's time to absorb its lessons, if it has any, into my wider practice.