What you are trying is impossible

It is impossible to combine work and motherhood.

But poetry starts from impossibility.

An Alice Oswald interview. Cut out of The Guardian and glued into a notebook.

As I would say more generally, constraints liberate.

Given your impossible limitations – of time, form, talent – do what is possible.

Finding a voice

I was away in Northumbria last week leading a Dark Angels writing course.

One area we explored is the different ways of finding “voice” – whether that’s your own voice, the voice of a character or the voice of an organisation you might be writing for.

So, rather fitting to stumble across this piece from poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy

She tells how Caedmon, the earliest known English poet, found his voice…. also in Northumbria. Must be something in the air.

On a seventh-century night in Northumbria, the Venerable Bede tells us, a lay brother and cattle herder named Caedmon had an extraordinary experience. Caedmon was not a literate man, and when social gatherings turned to song he would make his excuses and leave. On this night, when the harp came to him, he rose to tend the cattle and fell asleep in the stable. He dreamed that a man appeared. “Caedmon,” said the man, “Sing me a song.” But Caedmon did not know what he could possibly sing. “Sing about the creation of all things,” said the man. And Caedmon did, singing lines that he had never heard before; lines of such beauty, says Bede, that they moved the hearts of many to heaven.”