Poet, David Harsent says:

All writing is about rewriting. It might be that a poem will come to you fully formed – the fabled ‘back of an envelope’ composition – but those events are rare.

Word-choice is crucial. Write every day, on the bus, on the train, while you’re performing some tiresome domestic task. Make the bus, the train, the domestic task your subject. If what started as ten minutes of tinkering becomes interesting, find a different version of it in the rewrite: come at it from a different angle.

Be alive to opportunities. Look hard at everyday things. Always carry a notebook. Keep a dream diary: make short poems of your dream images. Let those short poems, those dream-fragments, simmer: they might (one day) come to the boil.¬†Write what’s around you. But you need to see it anew, make it your own.

David Harsent has published eleven collections of poetry, including Salt, from Faber and Faber. He is Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Roehampton and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

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