Wise Poets – Frank Delancy – Where Do Poems Come From

Frank Delancy (October 24, 1942 – February 21, 2017)

As you probably know, nobody can actually write a poem. There is no such act as writing a poem. That’s not how poems are made. Oh, yes, there is the physical business of pen, ink and paper — but that isn’t whence the poem comes. Nor may you send out and fetch a poem from where it’s been living. No, like it or not, you have to wait for a poem to arrive.

The people we call “poets,” by which I mean true, real poets — they are merely very keen listeners who have learned to recognize when a poem is dropping by. Then they copy down what the poem is telling them in their heads. After that, they tidy up the writing, ask their wives, sisters or daughters to type it out for them and so the poem is finished, next to be seen on the pages of some august publication in the Northern Hemisphere where they pay you minus tuppence per line and hope you don’t visit them naked roaring for more cash.

The thing about true poets is … they never have to wait. No sooner do they listen out, than a poem swoops down, whispers something to the top of their heads and they feel it flowing into their brain, down along their arms, into their fingers and out onto the page in black letters.

Poems are like angels. They visit often, but you have to be watching out for them and you have to believe in them to benefit from their gifts.