Living with the Truth Stranger than Fiction This Is Not About What You Think Milligan and Murphy Making Sense

Wednesday, 30 November 2016


Coitus Interruptus

We made love
to make up

for the poem
in my head,

the one with the
punch line missing.

28 August 1989
Poems are not jokes I know but there’s nothing like writing one where that last line kicks the feet from under your reader. I really don’t feel as if the thing works without that. All that’s missing is the rimshot: Buh Buh CHEE. This poem I have to say is pure fantasy. I never talk about a work in progress. My last two books I just handed to my wife when they were done. She didn’t even know I was writing them! I’m not superstitious—far from it—but I really don’t like talking about things I’m writing because they can change so much along the way. A perfect example of that is my novel Left. I wrote 10,000 words taking the book in one direction and then scrapped the whole lot and began again and wrote a very different book. What I ended up with was not the book I set out to write but what I produced was the book I needed to write. 

Just a word on the title: for the record, I have stopped having sex to go and write a poem. Man can only concentrate on one thing at a time.


vito pasquale said...

Poems always seem to arrive in the middle of doing something else. Sometimes it's good to stop doing the thing and sometimes it's good to keep doing the thing and get to the poem later.

If, pfffft, the poem is gone, never to return, one can usually be content in the belief that to finish doing the thing was better than the poem was going to be. Which might even be true.

Jim Murdoch said...

Oh, no, no, no, no, no, Vito. I drop everything when a poem arrives unannounced. What if it’s finally that work of genius I’ve been waiting on writing all my life? When I was a teenager I would’ve brook any interruption when I’d started work on a poem. I had to milk the moment because who knew how long the inspiration would last? Even now I’d probably still say to Carrie, “Give me a minute to get this down on paper,” and the nice thing about having a writer for a wife is she’d understand and leave me be. None of the others did. “It’s only a poem.” Red rag to a bull that.

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