these endless ellipses: Ralf Webb goes behind the poem

“Maybe behind the poem, the unfathomable machinery of the subconscious is forever churning away, processing and casting off memories and images in the constant pursuit of meaning, some ever-deferred understanding.”

In the latest addition to The Poetry Society’s online series ‘Behind the Poem’, the poet Ralf Webb, whose debut book Rotten Days in Late Summer was shortlisted for the 2021 Forward Prize for Best First Collection, discusses the composition of his poem ‘On Waking’, which appears in the winter 2021 issue of The Poetry Review.

‘On Waking’ unfolds from “a violent nightmare” about a violent “imposter” who is posing as the speaker’s mother. Webb writes of this, “I did experience a similar nightmare, but various elements of its mise-en-scène, if I can put it that way, were different. But truth and mendacity have almost nothing to do with writing poetry. Or, actually, is it that they have almost everything to do with it?”

To read the essay and others in the series, which includes contributions from Krisztina Tóth, Paul Muldoon, Amaan Hyder, and many others, visit the ‘Behind the Poem’ section of The Poetry Society website.


1 February 2022