Where do poems come from – being a vampire

Posted: February 6, 2014 in Home
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We are always told to carry the little notebook around in case ideas suddenly arrive, but also so we can act as vampires on our fellows and use overheard fragments.

This was a repeated theme in the MA Creative Writing so here are two examples, one overheard in a hospital waiting room and another written after a conversation during the course, thanks Tina!


I’ve got to wait until the scabs drop
off then send them to

They’re not ready yet.
If I pull them off
they’ll leave a hole.


Eavesdropping at the Almeida for Tina


I’ve started raiding people’s lives for inspiration;
it’s a shameless way of building up a poem.
You like the way I write my overheards but wish
they could be lighter. The hospital would be dark,

of course, but even in the library the talk was of
a funeral after which ‘she can move on’, which
I doubt. Now I’m eavesdropping at the Almeida,
hoping for some light-hearted piece of chatter,

polished to an anecdote.  It’s my daughter’s birthday.
We’ve come to see James’s Turn of the Screw
and have already upset someone at the bar by
queue jumping by mistake. ‘Perhaps next time

you’ll serve your customers in order’. We run away
with wine in plastic cups and prop them on the balcony.
It takes an age for us to see the steward in the stalls
is telling us to move them in case they fall and we feel

a bit embarrassed. While we wait for the first act
Im talks about her year in France. I used to go to stay
and she’d come to Lille to see me off. ‘Did I ever tell you
how a guy came up to me after you left? He asked me

to go back to his to make a sex film with him? I said
in French I don’t understand because I can’t speak French,
and ‘Mais….’ he said. ‘But…. ‘’ We laugh a lot at this
and I think I’ll write this down for Tina as it’s still a kind of

exploitation, no? The play’s had bad reviews, all the
nuances are gone. But it doesn’t matter; obediently I jump
on cue at every scare. Though I do suspect
the audience should not be laughing quite as much as this.


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