Friday, 18 November 2016

The Open Eye: Five Years in Blogland

Photo by Clarissa Aykroyd, October 2016

Open one eye only - 
the horizon is in the closed eye.

-Nikola Madzirov

As of October, I have been blogging fairly regularly for over five years. It feels like longer, which may or may not be a good thing. This blog has, at various times, been a release, an obligation, a handshake, and a door. Here you can read my first blog post ever, which may give some indication as to why I chose the quote above. (Although it's only a partial indication, because the quote came to mind when I took the photo above - a piece of found art.)

I can see from early blog posts that I had a slightly more rigid approach in mind; or not rigid, exactly, but more of a template. Discuss a poem and then open it up to touch aspects of my life; or pick something in my life, write about it and then draw it down to a poem. This works quite well, and at times I still use this template, more or less. Perhaps I should use it more often - in terms of close reading, there are other blogs out there that put mine to shame.

But over the course of a few years, one of the things I have discovered in myself is a general interest in poetry as a concept - what it touches and what is touched by it - in other words, everything. I am quite capable of finding a particular poet's work, or a particular school of work (tellingly, I saw this referred to as 'factions' on Twitter today) uninteresting or unlikeable in a personal, aesthetic or moral sense. In terms of the part that this work or idea plays in poetry, however, it is always interesting - the breadth of poetry as a concept, and what it can come into contact with. And in this sense, the metaphor of the eye is especially important. Poetry is everywhere, so I have to keep my eyes open for it - except it doesn't just happen through the eye; it's every way in which we experience our self, other people and the world, every way in which we come into contact with the things within ourselves and the things outside of ourselves.

It has also been fascinating to see how my tastes have developed and which poets or poems I write about. Poets such as Yeats, Celan, MacNeice, Eliot and Keith Douglas come and go, except they never really go because even if I were never to read another word of their work, at this point they can never leave me. (As for Celan, I don't get tired of him - I just get tired.) But in this regard, the most essential thing is the fact that I have embraced poetry in translation. Poetry-wise, if one thing over the past five years has influenced not only my reading choices and my own writing, but my life in general - this is it. In the early stages of this blog, I was still very hesitant about reading poetry in translation. In this aspect and the progress I have made, I also owe a lot to Paul Celan, because he was there right at the beginning.

And then, over five years I have also come a long way with my own poetry, met some amazing people, and discovered a lot about what I love about the poetry world, and what I don't love. But that is another story and shall be told another time, as Michael Ende wrote in The Neverending Story.

If you are a reader, and especially if you are a regular reader, thank you so much for coming with me. When I started blogging, I wasn't sure if I even needed readers - but as it turns out, I really do.


  1. Blogs, websites, twitters, and the rest of the internet flotsam and jetsam--mostly static and stasis. Inspiration is rare, and rarer still is a mind that sees the craft of poetry, of translating life into language, as a limitless and
    ever-changing lesson, " other words, everything." I'm looking forward to reading your posts here, new as well as old. Readers like me need writers like you. Thank you.

    1. Thank you! It's lovely to find new writers, especially those who take the time to comment!