One of my very best e-pals wrote to me today saying how much she likes the poetry collection I'm putting together under the name Ancient Fire (after my eponymous poem, an homage to Sappho). And I must say I feel that I'm really starting to get a handle on the writing of poetry. Supposedly, psychological research indicates it takes at least 10 years of working in a discipline to gain mastery. I've been writing poems seriously only since 1995, though I wrote song lyrics for five to seven years before that (hmmm, interestingly, 1995 was the year I wrote the last of my songs...). So I think I have a few years to go before I become extremely good at creating poems. But already I feel that I'm on my way to mastery. And it's something I'm excited about, because writing poems combines my love of language and sense of the subtleties involved in linguistic expression with my love of music and sense of rhythm and timing, even melody. (I wonder, can a poem possess something analagous to melody?)
As you might imagine, I too like this collection I'm putting together. I feel that these poems work together quite well. One thing I've always respected in certain songwriters and rock bands is the idea of the concept album (Joni Mitchell's "Blue" is a great example, as are many of the albums of my favorite rock band, Yes). When I was writing songs, I always wanted to create concept albums -- originally I had thought of creating three such albums, but through a process of compression and quality control I've distilled that down to one concept album (yet to be recorded!) entitled Hagiography. I would like my poetry collections to be "concept albums" of a sort, and I feel that Ancient Fire as it's now constituted is a good collection, in which one can detect common themes (individualism, passion, integration, mortality) running through both the translations and the original poems. I will probably add more poems to the collection as I write more, if I think they fit in. You'll notice that I've left out a number of my early poems, mostly my lighter verse. Perhaps I'll write a collection of light verse at some point. If all goes well I will have 50 more years of poetry-writing ahead of me, so I hope to write enough poems for at least several collections.
Peter Saint-Andre > Journal