Out – explaining a poem


Screen Shot 2017-07-03 at 06.29.04

The latest edition of the Maligned Species ebooks from Fair Acre Press has been published recently, concluding a quartet of poetry publications during February celebrating Spiders, Grey Squirrels, Frogs and Stinging Nettles. The series is expertly published by Nadia Kingsley.

I’m pleased that my poem “Out” was accepted for the latter edition. It deals with exclusion and ostracization because of perceived “difference”, telling of a young man who takes a lunchtime break from office bullies to search for the solace available in the natural world, where authenticity is to be found and celebrated. He literally grasps the nettle of facing up to the pain of life and the choices that have to be made. The resulting discomfort is preferable, stimulating even, compared with the suppressed rage of silently tolerating prejudice, harassment and social cruelty … as many who resort to self-harm in response to abuse will testify. The stinging nettle provides an appropriate metaphor.

Why explain the poem? Isn’t it better to allow audience to interpret? Yes. Almost always, yes. And often a reader or listener will pick up on some significance that the poet themselves hadn’t fully realized. But, having been told recently that the imagery in another of my poems was impenetrable, I thought this was an opportunity to talk about the kinds of psychologies that might be lurking beneath the surface of poems. Sometimes I ask my reader or listener to work a little harder to grasp my nettles. I don’t think that’s a bad thing for the recipient. Coming to the aha! moment after putting in a little extra time and effort has to be more rewarding than the quick flick of an obvious reveal. Well, doesn’t it?

Anyway. Here’s the link to the Fair Acre press shop where you can download the entire Stinging Nettles ebook or pdf for £2.99, proceeds going to the charity Plantlife.
Fairacre Press bookshop
The tremendous cover at the top of this blog post is by Peter Tinkler and is especially sympathetic to “Out” and other poems in the collection by:

David Calcutt, Andrew Fusek Peters, Nadia Kingsley, Liz Lefroy, Emma Purshouse, and John Siddique. Also poems from: Deb Alma, Jean Atkin, Carole Bromley, Tina Cole, Linda Goulden, Jan Harris, Steve Harris, Angi Holden, Janet Jenkins, Chris Kinsey, Patricia Leighton, Mandy Mcdonald, Alwyn Marriage, Rosie Mapplebeck, Gillian Mellor, Nicky Phillips, Pauline Prior-Pitt, Antoinette Rock, Helen Seys Llewellyn, Sophie Starkey, Claire Stephenson, Giles Turnbull, and Deborah Wargate.