Reflections/poem biography for Coffee Break

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“Flutter-fingered, my son drops
an unopened sachet of sugar
into his cappuccino froth.”

This often feels like one of the most debated poems in plenty-fish. Professional critical feedback was that I could develop this poem more. Yet audience reaction to an early airing of it at my Cheltenham Poetry Festival 2013 reading was very pleasing. It was commented on as a favourite from the set, published on Nutshells and Nuggets and also picked out in a Mad Hatter Reviews’ review of plenty-fish.

Initially confused by such different reactions, I have since found a way of resolving the conflict. They are all right, in their own way. Partly, it is a question of audience, partly it is a question of intent. Some poems loved by critics will fail to move a more general audience. Others that are easily enjoyed by the public in performance or the screen environment (rather than printed page) may not meet the tastes of a more poetry-on-the-page palate looking for more layers. But, as collections are often sold at readings and to a variety of readers, a book needs some poems that will hold a listening audience’s attention and meet the criteria of easy accessibility.

In terms of intent, yes, a very different, strong page poem might be achieved by developing this starting point further. But it would be an entirely different poem.

‘Coffee Break’ with its haikuesque style is a snapshot, a short reflection, a pause in life’s flow. Inspired by a real instance in a café with my son, at a much younger age than he is in the poem, its lightness is symbolic for me. It marked my recognising the need sometimes for a light touch and that the time would come when I would need to be able to step back as a parent, so that my son could become independent.

Electric Questions - lit version smallerDiscussion Point

If you were developing this poem into something longer and more involved, where would you start? And why?

Inspiration/Writing Prompt

Take a food or drink that you enjoy. Savour the flavour and experience of it. What does the taste evoke – feelings, memories, dreams…? Follow the thoughts and see where they take you. 


plentyfish cover (1)At poetry readings, I often enjoy hearing about the background to a particular poem. ‘Wednesday Reflections/Sometimes I smile’ is my attempt to share the inspiration, frustrations, pain, philosophies and thoughts that lie behind my poetry collection ‘plenty-fish’. Each Wednesday, this blog will contain one of these ‘poem biographies’, as well as points for potential reader discussion and also writers’ prompts. My collection ‘plenty-fish’ may be bought from Nine Arches Press, here, or my website, here. More Wednesday Reflections on other poems in the collection can also be found here.