new year, old writing

John Hayes’ 2010 horoscope for Gemini tells me it’s

an excellent time for writing, asserting your views and for catching up on your paperwork. However, if you identify too closely with your views, you may take a difference of opinion too personally and so there is the potential for disputes and disagreements

That’s a neat reminder about the difference between the writer/ narrator and what is written. And it’s not always just the reader who forgets this distinction. Paraphrasing Hayes: If you identify too closely with your writing, you may take criticism too personally.

Like I said earlier, it’s been very grey outside recently. But it’s the grey of the countryside; the grey of the city is quite another thing. So here’s a first person poem where the narrator isn’t me, and probably never was:

Nine o’clock in shades of grey

The sky, a solid lid on thoughts, constrains
and limits flights of fancy as I ride the bus
to work on Monday morning. I watch
through mud-spattered windows, jolted
past gravelled parks where leaden evergreens obtrude
from fog. In high-rise flats, once-snowy nets
are turned to slush behind dull glass. Stone walls
and pebble-dashing act as magnets to attract
the dust. Grey-skinned commuters wait
at greyer bus stops.

Outside the Town Hall,
laurel lollipops stand sentinel around
the corporation buildings, dull as salmon
caught in a bad still-life.
Inside, I know it smells of stale ash
and the cold-coffee paintwork of my office
flakes in silence.
Even my new business suit
is dark, sensible charcoal.

But underneath,
hidden from this colour-sapping world,
I sport a satin petticoat and panties
with pink roses. My step is light,
the half-smile ready
to blossom into song.

(A poem from a few years ago, published in 2009 in the South Bank Poetry Magazine)

Author: don't confuse the narrator

Exploring the boundary between writer and narrator through first person poetry, prose and opinion

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