Constant Process of Coming Into Being

Kitten Cuddles

Kitten Cuddles

5 November 2013
1:11 pm

Edinburgh

T. —

Not the best photo, but I can’t reach my camera on the table in front of me without disturbing here. So, I will happily sacrifice the quality of the photo in order to keep a purring kitten on my lap a little longer.

I woke up with a cold forming, but went to the dentist anyway because if I don’t go now, then when will I actually go?

Now I’ve finished work, I’m enjoying the electric blanket, and waiting for my mouth to un-numb, and the groceries to be delivered. It’s a good pace for the day.

*

INTERVIEWER

What inspires that first line? Is it something you see? Is it a passing thought, a line of someone else’s work?

M

 It’s usually a word from somewhere that sparks some kind of memory, either a memory that I’ve lived through myself, or an inspired memory that just comes from the general experience of living. A lot of the time, I’m so interested in where things come from, how they form, why they begin, that I almost forget to start a poem. I get stuck in the pre-beginning, in the formation phase. It takes a lot for a poem to break through that, but when it does, I know there is something important about to be said.

 

INTERVIEWER

Do you think of the work you do in libraries and archives as research? As telepathy? As spelunking?

 M

I see you’ve heard of one of my biggest influences. It’s part of why I’ll never give up the physical act of going to bookstores and libraries. I never know which book is going to be important, until I get there, until I am holding it. I forget that books have neighbours on every shelf, and that all of the neighbourhoods will be different, depending on where we are. There is a bit of a psychic element to it, for me. If I have a very clear intention of what I want, then I always end up finding something that speaks to that topic or theme, without even knowing that I was looking for it.

INTERVIEWER

How do your books come into being? Where do they start?

 M

They start as a curation of ideas or similar themes. It’s no wonder that groups of poems are called “Collections”. They’re groupings of episodes, small prayers that are threaded together by a larger center or central impulse. I’m always asking myself that question, because none of my books are finished yet. They are just in a constant process of coming into being.

 INTERVIEWER

Can you give us some idea what that center might be?

 M

It’s desire or interest, pattern, obsession, preoccupation. We all have themes that circle around in our minds, that we can’t stop thinking about, even if it’s not conscious thought. We all have passions that are a kind of fixation, addiction, and that’s what ends up coming back into our writing, in different guises and perspectives. Writing is just a way to keep working it out.

 INTERVIEWER

Do you feel you have any flaw as a writer?

 M

I’m not quite disciplined enough. I spend a lot of time wandering around in my thoughts, or meeting my ideas inside my head instead of allowing them a way out. Sometimes I don’t work with as much humility as I think I should. Sometimes I forget that I am not the gift I have, and I forget to give thanks for the fact that it chose me at all.

*

Vulnerable
Elma Mitchell

Everything is vulnerable at sunrise.
Houses are blurred at the edge by the creeping light.
They are not yet upright, not yet property.

Inside the houses
Bodies and bed are still to be disentangled,
Naked, bearded, sheeted, flowing, breathing,
With no cosmetic except the morning’s colouring.

No body has had time to put on its uniform
To arm itself with the safe and usual phrases,
To start counting, considering, feeling hungry,
Being man or woman…

They lie scattered, invisible, soft, loveable,
Under the surreptitious hands of the sunrise,
The touching light.

They are not yet upright, not yet property.

Good morning,
M

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