I've frequently "not written a poem for a while" - but its more often the case that I've not published a poem for a while, and I don't really understand, even after all this time, where to go with that. Reading a few poems recently I've gone back to my little book, because, three years down the line, they're still there, still in print. I have to acknowledge them. Thats not always the case with manuscript poems. I can certainly remember reading this poem or that poem out some time but nobody's keeping my set lists, so unless it was recorded, I guess those poems are ultimately "deniable."
In some ways it does seem a little absurd to keep writing poetry (or for that matter songs or stories) if they are going to remain in the bottom drawer. I envy those writers who have the confidence that all their work will get published; or find a place. My ambition stops a little with the most recent work: wondering if this is good enough and then wondering "for whom?"
It does seem important to write poems that move on, somehow, rather than be versions of what's come before; yet also there's a sense that maybe if you've found a model or two that works then a few replicas wouldn't be such a good idea. Its that old rock and roll cliche again, we like a band's style so wish they'd give us more in that style: too similar and we're bored; too different and we're not convinced. Yet I've always been interested in little artistic projects as much as individual poems - and fusing the two is one of the difficulties. I can sometimes follow an idea and write a bad poem around it; other times write something pleasant enough but which lacks any sense of originality to itself.
I was going to stop there, but realise I'd forgotten something. I'm a bit overwhelmed by the seriousness (that's the wrong word, but will have to do) of other poets I know. I'm here questioning the why of it all, and they're so often convinced that there's a method in the madness - and, equally as important, are getting their work out there. Not for the first time, I think that's its possible to have missed the boat - to be like Eliot's Magi, glad to see the Messiah, but wishing they were young enough to enjoy it. We all can't be Huxleys or Gunns taking advantage of the new world. I guess there's a time in your life when slings and arrows are good for you - I don't think your middle 40s is that time. There's time to do a few things I think but not to start again; and somehow - in a way that I'm finding difficult to articulate at the moment - starting again seems to be where I'm up to; roads less travelled and all that.