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Early influences, early efforts

November 5, 2015

Please to Remember W de la Mare illust by CRB for MM 1966

This week I’ve been clutter-clearing. Most clutter in my house is made of paper. But not all paper is clutter. My parents were great hoarders and I discovered that they had kept every copy of my childhood creation: Morning Magazine. As I have mentioned on this site before now, it was a magazine that I produced over a period of seven years. It also confirms that there was never a time in my life when I didn’t love poetry. Almost every issue of my home-made magazine included a poetry page.

How appropriate that today – Guy Fawkes Day, Bonfire Night – I came across a poem that I illustrated when I was about 12. Its title references the old rhyme “Please to Remember” (5th November, the gunpowder, treason and plot …) and is by Walter de la Mare. He was my favourite poet when I was a child, although I also loved John Masefield’s and Charles Causley’s poems, among many others. It seems that these poets have influenced my own writing, even though I wasn’t aware of it.

None of us writes in isolation, and what we read will affect how we write. The more poets we read, from different eras and continents, and using different forms and styles, the easier it will be for us as writers to develop our art and find our own unique voice. This is why I advise young writers to keep their early work. That way you will see how your writing style grows and develops.

As for clutter clearing: my old Morning Magazines are how heading for the bonfire. Why? Because we now live in the electronic age. I have scanned the covers and pages that I liked. Otherwise, I’ve kept just a handful of the originals for Posterity. (Whoever he is!?) But I thought I’d share with you my copy of Walter de la Mare’s Please to Remember as well as one of my early poems that I called The Old House, and wrote when I was 12. It is not a brilliant poem, but it shows how I was beginning to develop a lyrical voice, using rhyme and repetition to some effect.

I love the digital age. We don’t need to drown in paper as my kind parents did as they hung on to their daughter’s early efforts. I thank them. Make sure, if you are a budding poet or author, that you keep some of your early efforts. And keep writing!

The Old House by CRB from MM

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