I recently opened a box that had been moving between lofts, and found myself a present, a book of poetry written down from 1993 to 1995, a flowery hardback book with fountain-pen entries, signed just in case. Now, at the East Midlands Writers’ Conference they told us to put our writing in a box and leave it for a while, but I guess over 20 years is extreme. But for me, it’s more like having access to a time capsule.
Some of these poems went on to be aired in university and successively updated. Some start as free verse and end up rhyming. I can date some of my experiences. The tone of the poems changes after a few months of university.
I was lucky to do a BA (hons) in English Literature and creative writing on a course that gave the eight or nine on it special access to writers. We had support from visiting writers and later on a writing mentor, and in the second year we started taking the courses that would make up our subsidiary. I still have the poems I wrote for Hugo Williams in Autumn 1997.
When I spend some time with a famous writer, alive or dead, I tend to buy some of their work. I own far too many Paul Magrs books, which I must get signed, and everything I can from Emma Pass. I was very pleased to get a poetry book sometime in 1997 that covered both Andrew Motion and Hugo Williams in the UEA campus Waterstones.
In case you’re not familiar with Hugo Williams’s poetry, he wrote ‘Toilet’ and ‘Creative Writing’. Look them up! And here, with time for reflection, is a poem influenced by ‘Toilet’.
I’m doing it standing up
On a seatlessly silent train
I’m riding fast, the day is vast
I’m playing my favourite game.
I’m going away from here
As the throbs and pulses grow
The world files by, a restless lie
I’m caught in accelerando.
The train is as fragile as light
The cheap soap opera set quakes
Then faster it fits as if nothing exists
But the grey walls, toilet door
Black fridge-sealant rubber
Holding the train together
We slow down and stop, a useless flop
And I’m elsewhere for ever and ever.
© Rebecca Deans 2016