A rainy day is great for some things - like making excuses. Here's five ideas to help you siphon those uninspired puddles onto the page in full technicolour...
1. Promise not to turn the television on until you've written a poem!
Imagine you took your remote control down the phonehacker shop yesterday and now the television will do exactly what you tell it to. Maybe each channel is following a different member of your family or one of your friends. How would you feel if you turned on the television only to discover each of the channels was dedicated to one of your exes? How about if you turned on the television and there was actually some news that affected you? How about comparing the two or three times in your life that news has spilled out from the television into your everyday life? What if the news presenter suddenly announced the end of television?
2. Write a love song to a colour
It may be grey, grey, grey, but if you look around hard enough, there's bound to be a bit of colour somewhere. Even in London. Even by the Southbank, which is where I am now, there's a bit of yellow. Mmmm.... yellow. Where would I be without you yellow? In a grey, wet, dreary desert, that's where.
3. Examine how rain changes the way we interact with the world
If you're more into ideas and observation, then this could be for you. When everything is wet, it changes the way that we interact with the world, whether you're in a city or in the countryside. In a city, suddenly all the public spaces become empty and unappealing - you don't even see the benches that are possible places to sit and relax on a sunny day, because the idea of sitting on them doesn't even occur to you. Outside spaces become a stretch of no-man's land to be traversed as quickly as possible - the space in between becomes meaningless. Market's are drained of people as they fill up with puddles. Rain makes colours darker and washes the pencilled in appointments out of my diary. See- if you get into it, rain can mix up your metaphors in an interesting way... try it!
4. Look at the same place at four different times
I went to the Hockney exhibition at the RA in London recently. Really enjoyed myself. Hockney was looking at landscape, but doing it in a pretty radical and experimental way. One of the early rooms had four sides and four large paintings of the same scene, one from each season. The effect of standing in the middle of them and turning around was wonderful. It's a lot easier to get a sense of what something means when it is put next to something else so we can compare the similarities and differences. That's why you nearly always get a character like horatio in Hamlet, or Banquo in Macbeth - they act as a foil to the main character. They are similar to the main character, but when it comes to key decisions, we expect that they would not have made the tragic choices. This helps bring the main character into stronger HD definition. Rather than just describing them as - they are 'x', the character is now described as - they are 'x' but they are also not 'y'. You can do the same with a place poem over time. You might find that the subject becomes your mood, rather than the place itself as the place remains the same, but the way that you see it changes.
5. Imagine how different people see the rain.
You could try imagining a little scene where three or four people are affected by the rain in a different way. A child on the way to school. The road-cleaner. The umbrella salesman. The woman who has just spent lots of money on a haircut, but has forgotten her umbrella. The pigeon. The taxi driver. The guy whose belt broke, so his trousers are too long and dragging through the puddles on the way to his job interview. The couple who are a different height and so find it awkward walking under the same umbrella. The political speaker who is about to address a public gathering if they don't all run inside first. The groundsman. The gardener. The foreigner who has just arrived from a country that is in drought. The ice-cream van man who hates his job and loves the rain...
Hope some of those are useful!
If one of them helps you write a poem, comment me and I'll link to it in the next post!