'Behind the shadows' by Stuart Buck is Write Out Loud Poem of the Week
The new Write Out Loud poem of the Week is ‘behind the shadows’ by Stuart Buck. Stuart is a former chef. His debut collection, Casually Discussing the Infinite, was reviewed by Laura Taylor on Write Out Loud earlier this year. It is the second time that Stuart has won Poem of the Week. In his replies to our questions Stuart said he loved the feedback he received from posting poems on Write Out Loud: "It's changed the way I think about my writing, about myself and about what I feel I can achieve as a poet.”
How has your poetry changed since you began posting and sharing your work?
It has changed greatly, I would say. When I started writing, about three years ago, it was a very cathartic experience which I used to help me through a time of great stress and anxiety. I wrote would I would call confessional poetry, in that it was very raw and emotion-driven, often about me personally. It was a great way to get feelings out of me and somewhere they could be seen, something I think men in general struggle with.
Since then I have developed a lot as a writer, I believe. I have begun using my exhausting imagination a lot more, and have broadened my horizons in terms of theme and structure. I also feel the general quality of my work has steadily increased, as you would expect for someone who has written 1,300 poems in three years.
What advice would you give to an aspiring young poet?
Read poetry. Consume as much art and culture as you can. Don't forget the classics, they are classic for a reason, even if they seem daunting and difficult to understand. Keep a notepad by your bed and try to record your dreams, even tiny fragments of them. Get your work out there. Take the plunge and perform, even if you are a shambles like I was for the first year. You will get better. Try to write haiku, tanka and other forms of Japanese poetry. They help with the discipline of words and phrasing. Oh, and don't be ashamed to write about things you think are embarrassing/taboo. The general consensus seems to be that poetry is stuffy and rigid, but read any modern poetry anthology and you will find it’s quite the opposite.
What do you consider to be your best poem to date, and why?
Definitely 'Festival of Lanterns'. It has everything I like about my writing, it’s dreamlike, creepy and ends with an almighty crash. It's the one poem I feel I got right. Like all of my writing, it happened within five minutes. I don't edit my work at all, never have, so once it is there on the page that is it, it has happened and for better or worse it will stay as it is. I felt like that poem belonged on the page as soon as I wrote it, and it is the first one I chose for my second collection (tiny self-promo alert).
Which of your poems has received the best response either at an open mic or on Write Out Loud?
I have had some amazing responses on here and live. I would say my previous POTW winner - 'Take me to Tokyo where the Lights may Blind me' received the best feedback, as it was on the front page. Having someone say they like your work, or that they think you are a good writer, is everything a poet wants. I adore the feedback I get from this site. It's changed the way I think about my writing, about myself and about what I feel I can achieve as a poet. I take my writing very seriously, and there is no better way of boosting someone’s self-confidence than leaving a little sentence or two on their work.
In terms of live, I did make two people cry once, so that was a success, but I am far from the finished article. So I would say my best is yet to come!
You can have four people around your dinner table (living or dead). Who would they be and why?
Bill Hicks - I think he was the one person who truly knew what life was and how to live it. He was hilarious to boot.
Charles Bukowski - I loved the guy’s poetry and the way his mind worked.
Tom Waits - If I could only listen to one person’s music for the rest of my life it would be his. Fascinating character and a true one-off.
My mum - We would need someone to keep order - and she makes nice chips.
BEHIND THE SHADOWS
by Stuart Buck
for those three days you were the crow that
picked at my bones with pin sharp teeth
then as soon as you flew, you became noises
like the chirrsome sigh of the penultimate step
the crushed leather wheeze of the corner chair
a soft tinkling as soot fell down the chimney
disturbed by a nesting swallow, perhaps a swift
could it have been a crow?
a flicker of light that spat floaters across my vision
perhaps an afternoon shaft, burning a sliver of gold
on the dust ridden carpet, motes circling in the glow
they talked to me then, those tiny flecks of what you were
told me of the secret places you had been
they told me to break down my cardboard boxes
to stick them up at the windows so no one could see in
so i could not see out
they told me to stop feeding the fish
they told me to smash my phone
they told me to dig
to dig down beneath the house
to scrape away the wet earth under the boards
until i found the beautiful crystal caverns
pulses of green and blue and purple
under the calm glow were clouds and ghosts
the ancient ruins, crumbling to dust
the statues of you decorated with tiny mosaic
the glistening tiles picked out your gorgeous eyes
the flow of your hair, like a waterfall