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Unconscious Coupling

Unconscious Coupling

I talked in my post Less Haste, Less Waste about a poem called 'It Was Winter Last We Spoke' an extract from which is over on my poems page. I had a peculiar, entirely delightful, experience in the last 10 days when I started looking at the Live Canon International Poetry Competition, which I also mentioned and linked to in my last post.

I decided that if I wanted to enter the competition then I should take a look at the 2015 Anthology which contains the shortlisted poems from last year's competition (always a good idea to read back issues of magazines and publications if you plan on submitting anywhere). I reached page 14 and 15 which took my breath away.

The poem that I had just read was 'Fulham Road, 14 December' by Sophie Reynolds. My poem, 'It Was Winter Last We Spoke', is a monologue by an unnamed man after his wife has left him. Having lived for near enough 15 years with my protagonist and hearing only his voice, all of a sudden I felt like I was hearing his lady's voice in the moments before she left him through Sophie's poem.

I am not going to spoil Sophie's poem for you by revealing what happens in 'Fulham Road, 14 December' suffice to say that it is a significantly different ending from where my poem heads, though the more I think about it, the more I realise that Fulham Road could have been the real outcome that my protagonist was coming to terms with; a moment where the respective characters from the two poems were telling the same story from their individual perspectives. It felt like I had been working on a collaborative poem for all those years without for one moment realising!

You can certainly flip this post on its head and consciously couple one poem with another. If you read another poet's work that tells one half of a story, then why not use that as a springboard to write the other half of that story? Place yourself as one of the women who come and go, / Talking of Michelangelo in The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T. S. Eliot and go from there.

Equally, do not be afraid to consciously uncouple a poem, à la Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin. If you have a strong first stanza that just doesn't seem to be comfortable with the remaining stanzas, which seem to work perfectly well on their own, then let that first stanza become a separate poem in its own right; they can stay friends, but they don't necessarily need to be welded at the waist :)

#Poetry #ConsciousUncoupling #SophieReynolds #LivCanon

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