The poetic imagination works in mysterious ways but never more so than when it is being unpoetic. Other than what people believe, a poet is not a dreamer, with his head perpetually in the clouds, as the caricature has it. On the contrary, he is someone who walks the firm earth, especially those parts of it that are less than beautiful. Which is why when a well-meaning friend says ‘Come and stay in my cottage in the hills (or my house by the sea), you’ll feel inspired and write lots of poems,’ you know why you’ll never accept the invitation.
A BBC talk show is called Hard Talk, which is exactly what poets do. When the talk gets uncomfortably hard, you may find yourself saying, This is only a poet talking, making things up, and dismiss it from your mind. But the poet’s unpoetic hard talk is not so easily rid. Listen to this:
What’s the big fuss about?