Saturday, 26 November 2011


If you want to make a poem, rather than write one, then its form will be an immediate concern. No one makes anything without a clear shape in mind. Although the shape might change in the making, some formal intuition will be necessary to get you started.

While the notion of writing is fluid, making is static and hard-edged. Where writing might run on forever, or for as long as its impetus lasts, making has an end in view, a finished object in some way answering desire.

To regard poetry as making, as a practical rather than an intellectual activity, is common to the Concrete poets, the Objectivists, and to old Scottish ‘makars’. It offers a middle way between a ‘free’, or formally lax mainstream poetry, and a more ‘experimental’ poetry that deconstructs, divides or diverts whole streams of language.

When you have made a few poems, cards or books, they amount to a satisfying pile, having weight, volume and presence. They can sit on the table for a while before heading off on their own adventures.