How does poetry pass the test? How do you give a poem a grade? Even in workshops at uni, I can tell which are good, which need some work, and which are utter shite. But how? They’re just words on a page. Last year I got a First on my poetry. If another person marked them, I could’ve gotten something worse.

I think it might be an instinct thing, a gut feeling more than a physical grading scale, but no two instincts are the same. How does it stay fair? I used to think writing was something some people were good at and some people were bad at. Now I know writing is a skill to be learned, just the same as anything else is, and as long as there is the will to improve, anyone can do it.

I want to get better at it all the time. Sometimes all I know is the drive to write better, the hunger to make my words do more. Other times I feel like I’m too close to my own writing to know whether it’s good or bad. I have words in my head that don’t stop kicking until I’ve written them down, but there’s always more. Will the kicking ever stop? Do I want it to stop? No. Never. I never want to be without the comfort of words. I don’t know what else can carry me through the same way writing does.


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