How does a poem begin for you - with an idea, image or phrase?

It's usually, a poem begins by words in my head starting to do acrobatics or having fun or just repeating themselves. Yesterday what happened was I'd been watching a documentary about Bob Dylan the night before; and it was very exciting, and I went out with my head full of Dylan, and I was walking my dog on Hampstead Heath, and along a hillside and I started off with a sort of a line about walking on a hillside, "My trainers drenched in dew/One of my legs is longer than the other, but only by a sentimental metre or two/My head was kind of empty I was thinking of you" And it was sort of coming out a bit Bob Dylan-ish. "And it was something else" (that's the chorus) and that was sort of coming out as a song and I was writing it in my head as I walked along to the beat, which I was walking and it was about the fact that I was walking -So it can be that, or it can be I'm on a bus: I travel a lot on the bus because I have a free bus ticket these days, and I listen to people on buses and they talk to each other and sometimes they talk on their beautiful little mobile phones and they talk very loudly and I write down what they say. I'm a spy on the bus, and I write down things and sometimes I turn them into poems. So a poem can begin like that or it can begin by reading a newspaper and getting excited or moved or angry or sad or happy by something I read and I start writing about it. Or it can be a phone call, it can be what my wife says to me at breakfast, or doesn't say at breakfast, or the way that my dog looks at me, it can be anything starts a poem, anything at all. I don't go looking for them, I've got enough to write about for the rest of my life, and for the rest of several more lives.


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