My husband came to wine-making in mid-life and has expressed a concern that he has only so many vintages left to experiment, learn, and improve. Three years past my mid-century mark, I feel that same kind of pressure. I’m still trying to write the poem that’s my best poem and that’s good enough (all the while knowing it isn’t possible–the bar keeps moving, or I’m in trouble).
I’m not tied to a harvest schedule–I can write poems at any time of the year, and I can age them as long as I want. But I’m caught between the theory that all the best poems are being written by people under 30 or under 50 or pick your number and the thought that the more experiences you have, the more you have to draw on, the more you have to juxtapose.
For me, I think the trick is to keep reading–a lot: what’s new to me (even if it’s old to everyone else), what challenges me, and to read more deeply the poems I already love. To get those poems into my body. And to get the poems I’m writing into my body.
That said, I’ve written very few new poems these past few months, and have concentrated instead on revision: many iterations, getting those poems into this body that’s now officially a year older as I’m still trying to experiment, learn, and improve.
How do you keep it fresh? What helps you learn and get closer to that best poem you can write?