You Never Forget the First Time
It was a small room deliberately dimmed, decorated with monitors and posters to present our performances, and glowing a rotation of neon colours from its close skirting.
I never understood that last detail. But the screens and posters served a purpose. They gave to the small audience of parents and friends a hint of what they were about to hear over the course of an hour or so: a handful of third-year creative writing students, myself included, reading out their final projects. There were to be poems and excerpts from novellas; themes of horror, mystery, love, tragedy and the everyday. This was to be my first organised reading and I would be reading a selection of poems from the first pamphlet I ever put together: Finding Home.
I’ve forgotten the names of most of the poems in that pamphlet now. It was around seven years ago but feels more like 15. I was trying to find home. On graduation, would that be the end of my relationship with London? What was there for me back in Stroud? Was asking the question the point: did I need to return to see if other paths in thought and feeling would open up now that I had time to see them? These and many more were the types of questions I’d been asking myself while writing Finding Home. Maybe we never stop asking those types of questions…
As I write, I look out of my window and three floors down onto the main road, which now gradually gears up. It’s early morning and the first signs of life make for their destinations: by jogging, driving, flying. As I hear these birds, see these men and women run the present into the ground before them, these cars traipsing along, hard and gloss from the previous night’s dew, I’m reminded of one thing. Over the years we don’t always notice external changes. What we do notice is the changes in ourselves. We may feel the same in a way, but we take to those same signs of life, those queues for thought, differently.
The poetry has never left this stage that bustles before us at all times. What changes is our readiness and ability to see it for what it is, and to take from it what meaning we will. What meaning will we take? Only time can tell.