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(An essay for The Echo Room)

  1. I write because once long ago I became enamoured of typewriters and one morning (a Tuesday) awoke to find my room had become a nest of them, machines that could not be allowed to sit idle, that could be harnessed to many different forces but which still, even now, resolutely prove to have a mind of their own that will not be cowed.

  2. I write because if I don't my dreams are unbearable. This would not upset some people, especially those who stuff their poems full of dream imagery, but it strikes me that waking life is full enough and enough to bear without having to worry about the life in your sleep.

  3. I write because if I don't I become something of a horrible person, and not too good to be with. This may or not matter.

  4. I write because it impresses my mum. (Really, it does, and now I've impressed her it would be rotten of me to stop, I think.)

  5. I write because I am not one of the congregation at the Church of Divine Self-Expression. No, it's not that. If I were, I would necessarily have to condone the output of several bad (even dreadful) poets, and even more fairly adequate and competent but, alas, dull ones. This is not to say that self-expression is a bad thing. I can throw plates. And I know that this paragraph does not actually constitute a reason.

  6. I write because of the idea of the ideal friendship.

  7. I write because I can't play the cello without causing offence. (I realise my writing causes offence in some quarters, but I'm no saint.)

  8. I write because I am entranced by dusk, confounded by the government, at once scared and beguiled by the future, envious of children, forgetful of the past, exasperated by myself, uncomfortable in crowded rooms, curious, ignorant, egotistical, good with vegetables, selfish, lost in the snow and by the sea, hopeful, human.

  9. I write because not to would be negative.

  10. I write because Frank O'Hara talked to the Sun at Fire Island. (To be honest, this is dishonest: I wrote before I knew of O'Hara, but to get through this without thinking of him is impossible, and having thought of him it seems reasonable to mention him, though it might be coy, or fey, or something of the sort. So what?)

  11. I write because there is everything as it was and everything as it is and there is the way things have never been, the way they should be and could be, and the way things might even yet turn out to be. Then there is life.

  12. I write for money. (I have a sense of humour.)

  13. I write because there is something, and I haven't got it.

  14. I write to see what there is to say.

  15. I write because when I stood up and said my name nobody was listening. It's my way of getting even, but I'm not sure it's a terribly effective way of getting even.

  16. I write because you're not supposed to say this and it's wrong even to think that. Consequently, but also a little indirectly, the emphasis is sometimes upon method at the expense of meaning. Or the other way around.

  17. I write because one idea tumbles out on top of another little thought and sometimes there are sparks that people have said they enjoy watching fly and the surprises and if so maybe all this has some worth.

  18. I write not because I want to see something new, but because there is something old just out of sight. That is what I want to see, but I don't expect to see it wearing another man's suit of clothes, or adopting his mode of travel, or mimicing someone else's way of saying.

  19. I write because it might all come to an abrupt end tomorrow, or earlier, though in my heart of hearts I can't believe it will. But in Suffolk, what with the American air bases, and the Sizewell power staion alphabet taking shape up the coast, and some fairly erratic driving by Eastern Counties Bus Company employees, one can never be too sure.

  20. I write because I refuse to be bored.

15th-17th June 1988


From Conversations with myself: selected reviews and notes 1984-1998 published by Stride

read a review of a book by Martin Stannard

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