I am David – 41 years young. I was born and grew up in Torbay, Devon. I have been teaching English abroad for the past decade which has allowed me to do a fair bit of travelling and some exposure to different cultures.
The TDH group has, for me, been an absolutely refreshing experience. I can reap some rewards for my screen time, that I would have previously felt guilty for in the depths of idleness. To that end, this has been a difficult year for me (as it has for many) leaving a job and returning to the UK. 3
In those times, particularly quarantining, I have found solace in the group, in reading the work of others and the positive feedback from the group members. So in that sense, I am definitely blessed to be a member of this community. I have not always found social media groups to be conducive to one’s personal well-being, but this group has definitely helped my sanity. The group is highly supportive, and the kind of comfortable shared space that I would often like to have in my own classroom.
I think when it comes to the creative process, the stimulus often comes from within. This is not me being deliberately obtuse, but sometimes it can be a phrase, a word or particular emotion. Sometimes I respond to poems by poets that have inspired me, but they might be a phrase or idea; they are rarely pastiches of poems themselves.
That itself is quite a tall order.
I have found some inspiration from the works of Ted Hughes, Kim Moore, Tomas Tranströmer, Selima Hill – to name a few. The work in the North and the Forward books from my perspective, contain some really thrilling work.
It is always interesting to see the subtle nods to other poems used by the writers within TDH group – but in fact I have smiled at the variety of responses to recent events, music or even TV shows. The words and phrases provided are a boon – but often I find myself straying from the path like a naughty child. A little straying is probably good for the soul and the creative process! I see form as a container for the words: if the words don’t fit (either physically or thematically) then the form needs adjustment.
I have found the longer closed forms exceptionally challenging; and while I am not always happy with what I produce, it is essential for me to be kind to myself in the process. Again, this is one of the benefits of being part of a non-judgemental space like TDH. The work I read makes me smile, laugh out loud; some of the poems I have read here have also been the most honest and the most poignant pieces of work I have had the benefit of reading. Without a doubt, it seems to me producing and reading poetry can be a really beneficial form of mindfulness. My brain is at best scattergun and all-over-the-shop. This creative endeavour can give me a form of anchor and rootedness.
Recently, I have been mining my past travel experiences (It could be said a lot of my work is travel writing, in the unconventional sense) and I use photos to get the creative juices flowing although I try to ensure that the poems work independently of the photos in the end. The presence of the photo works alongside the words. I suppose when it comes to reflecting on something the stimuli is, for me mostly a trigger, and the inspiration eventually comes from within, but it is about homing in on that image, feeling and where applicable also a sense of transition where it comes along – it is like a shifting-focusing lens or tuning in on an old wireless. I get there most of the time.
The heat makes ghost towns
Of us all. The hidden quiet
Of turning dust devils
Of the last chance saloons of
Deserted shack gas stations-
The modest black flag’s ripples.
The sheer cliff-edge pain
of presence, Sailing into
Palm fronds of the unknown.
“Why complain?” asked Gaia.
“Each lengthened crease
bump, layer and sore canyon
Documents the history of you
It is a turning-back; this time capsule
Of my my-ness and your you-ness.”