(in memoriam W.C.W.)
There are plums
in the fridge:
17 July 1989
I left school with a fair idea of what poetry was. Poetry was all about form. It was how you could tell it from prose. Prose was messier, its structure harder to pin down. Poems broke things down to the smallest parts of speech. They were more like mathematical formulas and, oddly for someone so obsessed with words, I’ve always loved maths, especially algebra. I suspect that’s why for the longest time I wrote such concise poems, something I learned from the American poet William Carlos Williams. This is the third poem I’ve written which tips its hat to him. The first two were ‘England Expects…’ and ‘Yesterday’ which were both inspired by his poem ‘The Locust Tree in Flower’, the first poem of Williams’s I ever read. This one harks back to one of his more famous poems, ‘This Is Just To Say’, his apology to his wife, Florence, for eating plums he found in their fridge. I’m not sure at this point in my life I’d ever eaten a plum. They were certainly not a part of my childhood diet.
‘Premeditation’ was the first poem I had published in the United States. It appeared in Bogg #62. ‘Coming Out’ (#635) appeared in the following issue.