Saturday, 13 February 2010

Personal Manifesto, part 1: Outwards not Inwards

I'm not sure how I feel about manifestoes. On the one hand, it seems like formulating one, privately or publicly, is a necessary part of the process of becoming focused and of defining your personal efforts, which is especially important when spending so much time on something that is neither a hobby or a business. On the other, every time I've attempted to write one down, it has come out wrong - either inaccurate or over-confrontational.

This morning, the thought occurred that the problem was down to my trying to pinpoint an individual position in relation the world's, as opposed to against itself. In simpler terms, instead of writing: "This is how I intend to differ from everyone else", I should be writing: "This is the route I intend to take, as opposed to others which remain open to me." I don't believe this robs the manifesto of its ability to be revolutionary or morally arresting but it puts it on a far more realistic scale.

So part 1 of my own manifesto - since I think it's best to write these things down as and when they feel important - is that as a poet - and as far as I am a poet (and if I'm a pretender, then equally so) - I want to face outwards not inwards. By that I mean that I don't want to set my sights on the inner world of poetry and what it takes to impress and ensconce oneself there (although, if I'm honest, I sometimes feel a burning need to do just that, so that I am authenticated in some way) but on engaging with everything outside of that inner world. That notion is, I think, the basis for a lot of my ideas, while staring at the sea of high-achieving, already-established poets in catalogues (whether ones I admire or ones I find dull) is the basis for so much anxiety and ill feeling.

That doesn't mean I won't read poetry books or won't engage with them as a reader; rather, I will treat them as part of that external world, rather than as achievements I want to match.

So that's that part. I'll see what else comes up in the future.

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