I made mention in my first post of the poet Jeremy Twill. He is not very well-known, to be honest, and those of his poems that have seen the light of publishing day were printed in somewhat obscure, pre-internet and now defunct journals. However, there is an interesting interview with him dating from 2004 here and I for one am hoping that he might resume publishing in the time that's left for him. He's not young. (I wanted to include a recent photograph, but Twill is a famously private person, so an artist's impression will have to suffice.)
On occasion he writes to me. He is one of the few people I know who sends real letters, and not emails. A month or so ago he sent me, unbidden, the following. I think it's interesting, but I'm a sucker for poets writing about poetry, even when it's rubbish, or I don't understand them. I reprint his letter, or at least the interesting part of it, verbatim. I think it speaks for itself.
How I wrote "Why It Never Rains Where I Am"
First I thought of the title. Well, I did not exactly think of it, but the title appeared in my mind and almost immediately I realized that it was an excellent title although when it appeared it was just a phrase but, no matter, I tried to remember it until I could find a pencil. I found a pencil and then wrote it down. By this time I had decided it was not merely an excellent title but a grand one: "Why It Never Rains Where I Am".
The first three words of the poem ("complex trees abandoned") arrived (from where I cannot say with any certainty) at around the same time as an urgent, surprising and acute but thankfully short-lived attack of diarrhoea occasioned I think by some untrustworthy seafood. I wrote them down on a napkin, because I am of the generation that does that kind of thing. Uses napkins, I mean.
I did not understand the words. Rather, and let me be more precise: I understood each word but I did not understand why they were together holding hands like three girls in one of those new-fangled and tasteless shopping malls made almost entirely of glass and bad taste. So I left them like that because it seemed literary and "open to interpretation", like Dan Brown's novels. But I prefer to adhere to the basic rules of English grammar so I put them into what I judged (and still judge) to be a sentence: Complex trees abandoned.
With this much under my belt the time had come to decide if this was going to be a long poem or a short poem, one of my more obscure offerings or anecdotal, ambiguous or, heaven forbid, popular. I have to admit that decisions of this nature are usually determined by the state of my life at the time: for example, if I am happy or sad, bored or non-committal, having frequent sexual activity, or in the middle of my annual "I should read The Bible" period. As it happened I had recently brought to a close a pleasant but meaningless period of solitude (I had rented a dilapidated, nay ruined, hut in a tiny village almost in the middle of nowhere but within earshot of USAF (why are they still here, by the way?) planes taking off and landing, to write (but I did not)) and taken a temporary part-time job as a delivery boy (quite an old boy! but that was what I was called) for our local what you would now call I suppose "convenience store", but in those days it was just a simple grocer shop. This perhaps explains the next line of the poem: "I'm threatened. Girl horror, I did not see the knife."
Of course, I had to decide if this line really "worked" with the "Complex trees abandoned." line but those kind of tough decisions are what poets are faced with every day of their seemingly interminable lives. But from this point forward it was easy. The concluding lines were as obvious as (insert simile for the blindingly obvious).
It is quite a short poem (only three lines) and looking back at it now from a long distance I wonder if the title and the first line and the second line and, if I were to be pushed, the last line are at all connected in any meaningful and comprehensible way but I think language is like a fish you cannot keep a hold of and I really think after a few drinks it is possible to see the poem as a self-sufficient object, which is more than can be said most of the time about almost anything. I think if I were given the chance to revise it I might change some of the words, but since it has been published I think it is too late. I hate revisions when they occur so many years after the initial composition, don't you? But "complex" is not quite right, and neither is "tree". And I never really liked "abandoned" either. How can you abandon trees? And the last line ("I called the fictitious doctor messaged into the twilight-light passageway shelter of unbecoming beauty but never quite sad enough to be considered an emergency case circumstance and examined but if and also bird on bough falling into angel territory or maybe that was only in a dream and whether or not rising death rates are all falling in love we are not machines but threatened by annexation and examination of life expectancy how nature tricks and however it is it is is it a rhetorical question") is definitely much too long. I do not know how it came to pass that I did not pick up on that at the time.