by Theo Richards
A partner of mine once called to tell me they were getting into fishing. Bought the rod, knew the lures, where the trout slept and ate. But they wouldn’t put a hook on their line. They would sit on a rock in the river and cast their naked line into the water over and over again. They said they were practicing their cast. That mediocre fisherman didn’t deserve to catch fish. They said they needed to be good enough to earn the catch. And then they wrote the poem about their father and never picked up a rod again but did write a lot of celebratory poems about the year I didn’t catch any squid.
Alexa asked me the other day “What is it like to be a poet who is dating a poet” and as a poet who seems to have a bad habit of dating other poets, I would say it’s a series of entertaining the different hobbies each of you pick up while you take turns telling everyone who loves you that you are no longer a poet. Is this relatable to anyone?
But I’m here to argue that the hobbies we pick up (currently mine is low tech biotope fish tanks) are part of the writing. They are distractions or and the things we do when maybe we could be writing. They are research. Sometimes you need to know what it feels like before you can write what it feels like, even if the poem about your father needs to come through learning everything about catching trout in North Carolina.