The Notion of ‘After’ on poems: An attempt to define

Great advice and a lovely poem

Angela Topping

There has been a lot of discussion recently on how poems which rely heavily on others should be attributed in work that follows it. There are people who say they work from a starting point of someone else’s poem and change words until they make it their own. I do not see that as creating, but learning how to write, and not to write something that could be submitted for publication. Poet means ‘maker’, not ‘alterer’.
Those who aspire to write poetry must read it and aim to learn from poets who have spent time learning their craft. Expertise cannot be gained overnight: it comes from years of practice and reading, experimentation and critique. Those who have immersed themselves in poetry absorb much. They don’t sit and write with other people’s poems to paste in or alter, unless they are doing cut ups and collages – and in that case…

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