A while ago Rachel Fox mentioned a new Scottish website that I should check out. Always keen to support my fellow countrymen and women I immediately clicked on the link. One Night Stanzas is a site committed to supporting up and coming poets. This excited me. There are loads of sites out there to which you can submit your poetry – who needs another one? – but there are not so many about poetry and when I was in my late teens and early twenties that was what I wanted to read. Poetry I had no problems finding even back then but I wanted to know more.
Anyway, I'll return to my miserable past in a minute. One Night Stanzas, is the brainchild of a flame-haired, young lady called Claire Askew. I decided to find out a little about her and I was delighted by what I discovered. And a little jealous, yes, if I'm honest with myself.
I have an interview coming up with her shortly but in the meantime she's kindly let me do a guest post on the theme Why Am I a Poet?
It's strange but I've never really sat down and asked myself that question before. Well, I have but I've never taken the question seriously. The thing is there are a lot of new people starting off and trying to find their feet. They have a lot of questions and I bet the majority are, as I was, surrounded by people who are incapable of providing answers.
One of the programmes we watch regularly is the Ri¢hes, a dark comedy-drama series about a group of travellers who are trying to pass themselves off as a rich American family. The youngest son likes to dress up in girls' clothes and, although not a major character, the drama does take time to watch him struggle with this. I would have no idea what to say to a son of mine if I found out he was a transvestite. It's not that I wouldn't want to be supportive but the bottom line is I don't get it. And I guess that's how my father felt when I told him I was a poet (not that I wrote poetry – major distinction here). He read what I showed him but he didn't get it. He just waited for me to get it out of my system. Only I never did.
In time he started to lose patience with me. I placed too much importance on it. It's fine to have a hobby, son, but it's a hobby, that's all it is. How could I explain to him that this was normal for me? I had a hard enough time coming to grips with that myself because no one around me was like me. So what did I do? I did what most people in my position do – I went underground. Every now and then I tried to pop my head up when new people appeared on the horizon but it was always much the same. Some were more tolerant than others but that was it. They'd put up with only so much.
To be fair I can't hold it against them because most of what I was writing wasn't very good but a bit of encouragement would have gone a long way. And that's what I think is so important about Claire's venture. It's young, only a few weeks old, but it is aimed at the young although none are turned away. Here's the link to my post again and after you've read it have a look at the rest of her site. I'll post our interview in a few days.
Living with the Truth Stranger than Fiction This Is Not About What You Think Milligan and Murphy Making Sense