For me writing starts with an image I can’t get rid of, or a group of words that keep repeating themselves and won’t let me be. I have no idea where I’m going when I put the image into words, or when I record the line that’s almost become a mantra in my head. But when I put my pen to paper, that moment becomes the engine pulling the train cars, already filled with the words for the rest of the writing. Usually I don’t realize I’ve been gathering those moments for years. Whether happy, sad, frightening, sorted or confused, they’ve been there waiting, subconsciously. And if I try to avoid them, the whole page becomes a mess. I’ve learned they have a mind of their own and make their way known.
In my poem, A Mother’s Will, the act of picking up my pen to sign my name unleased a flurry of images. I saw the homeless man standing on the stairway; my son’s cold feet; my obsession with socks; Elgar’s music depicting the important people in his life.
The poem took its own form and almost wrote itself. Line breaks came with my breathing, my sorrow and then my conviction.
I find my deepest emotions can only be expressed through poetry, where the impact of one word resonates and holds me, till I find the courage and often the joy, to unload the train cars and write on.
Janice McCrum’s poems and essays have appeared in Canadian, US and UK publications. Author of two children’s books, The Shifty Chef and The Boon Truck, she is currently working on a braided travel memoir set in South America.