Poetry is an addiction.
When your life feels like one big, long, endless effort to write a poem, you're a poetry-addict. I'm either working on a poem, fretting because I'm not working on a poem, observing life / events / objects with a view to their poem-potential, and worst of all too busy looking for the poem in the experience instead of actually just living the experience.
On the one hand it feels like an inauthentic way to live, as if the poem is cannabalising my life, myself, for its own ends because poems don't stick to the facts they transform experience / objects to suit the poem. However, on the other hand, the constant analysis of myself, my life, experiences mean that life doesn't just blindly happen to me unchallenged or without thought. I'm deeply aware of my life, I constantly examine it which, according to that old Greek guy, means it's worth living but more importantly, for me, means it is an authentic way of living. Poems don't tell things exactly as they are but I think they do tap into deeper truths about ourselves.
I can understand why Wallace Stevens had the view that poetry could replace religion, in the times when I've struggled most with doubt I almost thought this could be possible too. It's a funny old life, but it's the one I've chosen to lead. Although, you could say, with an addiction there's never really a choice.
So I'm sitting here trying to write a poem and constantly checking emails, hoping for a reply from a poetry editor. I'm still reading Stevens and back to Claire Crowther too. Does it sound terrible to admit that while I really love many of Ted Hughes' poems, reading him in abundance bores me senseless? I can't go near Plath at all now, her influence is just too great on my poems otherwise. I read John Burnside's Black Cat Bone a while back and I'm only really now beginning to digest it so I'll be pulling that out again. I borrowed some techniques from Janet Sutherland's Hangman's Acre for a few poems I wrote a couple of months back so I'll be looking at her collection again too.