Most of my written work is - much like many other poets' writing - a response to the world around me; a kind of ongoing diary of experience, reading and observation. This is catalysed and changed by the processes I use to try and make the language playful, interesting and new. I'm personally bored by poems that tell stories and have an epiphanic punchline at the end. I like poems that bemuse, confuse, befuddle and delight.
I want poems that ask more questions than offer answers, poets who facilitate a way through unreason and uncertainty, disbelief and doubt. I'm not alone: poet/critic Charles Bernstein, in his book My Way [University of Chicago, 1999], suggests that 'Poetry is turbulent thought, at least that's what I want from it. It leaves things unsettled, unresolved - leaves you knowing less than you did when you started.'
In this [my] kind of poetry themes emerge, tentatively appear and disappear. I try to keep the vocabulary everyday and readable, but distort syntax and the linear. Make surprises, jumps, leaps of imagination. What I read, see and engage with around me gets - sometimes directly - collaged into poems; so it's very personal. It's my voice because I made it. It isn't as simple as "cut-up", as the sorts of poems I once-upon-a-time wrote usually get worked into the poems of the sort I now write.
I remain more interested in language as a medium and what one can do with it now perhaps more than "saying something". The reader brings meaning to the poem as much as the author; they always have, now its made more explicit/implicit in the work.
For the last few years my main way of writing has been to assemble phrases into a poem. These phrases come from my own notebooks, from books I am reading at the time [sometimes grabbed almost at random; at other times phrases I've jotted down whilst reading], from songs and CD covers, from newspapers and magazines, from my head.... One thing I don't do is take lines from other people's poems - that's just a personal choice. I somehow synthesize this assemblage of words and phrases into a poem around the theme, or image, I started with. I type them up fairly early on, and then edit them every 2 or 3 days, usually for at least 3 months. When they haven't been changed for a fortnight or so, I will regard a work as finished. It will then be submitted to a magazine, and a copy put in my current poetry file and in my folder for readings.
I tend to do a lot of thinking in my head around a subject. I listen to a lot of different sorts of music, especially improvised, contemporary jazz and classical, and out-rock, and I think musical composition [in a loose sense; I don't read music] has affected my use of form. I am also a bookworm and read a lot of poetics and visual arts theory, postmodern theology along with fiction and poetry. All this somehow "shakes down" into my poetry, as does what I see around me.
I don't think anyone will get anything more or extra out of my poetry by knowing how it is written. I'm not, in the end, a great one for contextualisation: here is the poem, on the page; here is the painting, on the gallery wall; here is song, on the CD [or played live]. What you see is what you get.
© Rupert Loydell