I don’t regard myself as a poet in the sense of making a living from it or identifying myself as a poet first and foremost, but as someone who writes poetry occasionally. Neither do I have a favourite poet, although Dylan Thomas comes close – a genius of the poetic form who was permanently drunk on words. Rather, it is the poem that counts.
There is another exception: I love and cherish my son Andrew’s own poetry, and one poem in particular called Slow Fade. It is, for me, among the best eight lines of poetry existing in the English language. (It’s in the genes…read my story of the search to identify my American soldier father in the Life Stories section and my poem, Father to Son.)
Andrew and I believe in using all the poetic devices because they bring music to the lines. They also impose a discipline that is challenging and rewarding.
In a book on evolution, an abiding interest of mine, I once read that there was a parallel between evolution and poetry. The demands of physics, biology and the environment produce novel solutions among living things just as the imposition of metre, rhyme and metaphor forces original word play.
I do, though, write the odd poem in blank verse. But in those instances, imagery needs to take the weight.
As a tabloid and then a broadcast journalist, I developed what I call “tight writing” – the ability to sum up a detailed and complex situation in a concise way. For me, poetry can serve a similar purpose. A poem should be dense with information, explicit or implicit. It is, after all, the DNA of language, and a highly evolved form of communication.
You should be able to dip a poem in a river and flavour an ocean. At the same time, I believe a poem must be accessible, not a private note to one’s inner self. So, as an attempt at glass-like clarity, I’ve included a section that tells the stories behind the poems (See Poetry Stories). I hope you enjoy the poems – and what helped inspire them.
David Edwards Hulme.