Widely-published late poet, Margaret Munro Gibson, was loved by many poets in the UK, where her work was welcomed by poets of the small press.
This collection (republished online, with permission) gives Margaret's approach to writing and the inspiration of the poet.
POETRY A WAY OF LIFE
When poetry is your way of life, there will rarely be a day when you do not read from one of your favourite anthologies. No day when you do not think of poetry. Few events will occur which you do not examine mentally for the possibility of the inspiration for a poem. Certainly nothing will touch your life deeply without eventually becoming a poem.
POETRY AS A HOBBY
You will be pleased when something strikes you as being the embryo of a poem, but if you have to bake a cake for guests, that will take priority. If poetry is your way of life, you’ll buy the cake and use the time to work on the first draft of your poem. Only illness, or emergency in your immediate family circle will be more important than the tending of your new poem. However, whatever place poetry holds in your life, hobby or something more precious, you are unlikely to suffer much from boredom. Once the rough draft is on paper, there will be much pleasurable work to be done. It is important to find the best words. Not necessarily long, or difficult words, but words which best suit your theme, or which promote rhyme, or rhyme and rhythm.
DOES THE POEM LOOK GOOD ON THE PAGE?
Today’s poetry readers, not all poets by any means, are often put off when they see large blocks of lines without any breaks. It is therefore important to decide where to make a break. This applies particularly to unrhymed verse. Quatrains, for instance, often fall into natural breaks. The same may be said of the Sonnet, the Villanelle and various other forms. The three line Haiku should not, of course, be joined, even in a Haiku sequence. The new Davidian form would of course have the break after each fifth line – or even four, if you want the fifth line to stand-alone. On average, I’d say the most a reader enjoys without a break, would be twenty, or thirty lines. So – please look carefully at your work. Do not send a poem out until it looks good on the page. Breaks also serve to add emphasis. They can be used at the conclusion to ensure the reader understands, perhaps in surprise, the main meaning of the poem.
A computer will not make you into a poet, but it can ensure that what you have composed with your pen is as good as you can make it. Seeing your poem on the screen helps you to decide whether you have used the right words. Sometimes you may find you have used the same word too frequently and must make changes. Above all, you can store the poem; perhaps make changes without full retyping. You may even want to send it out again several years later and there it is, ready on disk. Maybe you can now think of a better title. This of course applies to all forms of writing, although many writers can and do compose stories, articles, etc on the computer.
WITH A PEN IN YOUR HAND
Let us suppose you have an idea nagging at your mind. All day, going about your routine tasks you have been trying to think of a first line without success, wondering what form to use. For many people these problems can only be solved when you are able to sit down with an exercise book and a pen. That pen makes all the difference. Words begin to flow, even if you have to cross them out again and again. Eventually you will know – what form to use and a rough draft will appear on the page. After that you may have only a few hours of this work that you love. On the other hand it may take days or weeks, but eventually your poem will have become ready to take its place in the world. You may be able to commence other forms of writing on a word processor, but poetry never. However, even if your novel is proving difficult, try using a pen for a few pages!