How does a poem begin for you?

A poem really begins for me with a voice really a voice of the poem. If I get the voice right, the tone right, then I can usually continue with the poem even if the voice is a lyrical voice and even if it's an abstract voice it's something that I visualise in quite a concrete physical way - that's probably how it starts off. I wrote this poem in the voice of a woman who - called 'The Knitter' recently - in the voice of a woman who was from Shetland so I wanted to capture some of that way of talking that Shetland people have which is quite different and I love the way that people talk, I think I'm in love with the way that people talk in Shetland, but I also wanted to give the idea that somebody, that this woman knits, somebody who knitted throughout her entire life, through tragedies and through wonderful things happening, through her husband drowning at sea and I wanted to write a poem like that and I couldn't quite get how to do it until I got the first line of it which was "I knit to keep death away" and once I got this "I knit to keep death away" that was it - it was like a ball of wool, the poem y'know, it was yarn. I think that's probably similar for most creative people in one way and another; you can have the physical things but you don't necessarily know what to do with them until you get that spark of ignition.


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