Sunday, 9 October 2016

The Writer, Getting Intimate with Human Nature

A reader from Switzerland has emailed me to ask - as people often do - why a poet writes fiction. Well, there is poetry of a kind in fiction too. I needed to try my hand at writing novels, partly because I knew I would enjoy it (as I did) and partly because i suspected it would bring me closer to an understanding of human it has. Fiction is not all about plot, but creating characters, good and bad; the writer needs to explore the various interrelationships of mind, body and spirit. Hopefully, this has made me a better poet...but that, of course, is up to you, my readers, to decide.

Most of my novels - published and unpublished - remain in serial form on my fiction blog. Each serial is preceded by a separate synopsis post. As each complete novel is published to Google Play in e-format, it will be removed from the blog and I will post the relevant Google Play link as an update. To access updates from time to time, go to: 

It seemed a good idea to publish the poem here at the same time as answering a number of queries about publishing my novels (and poetry collections) as e-books to Google Play over the next few years, thereby, making those that have only ever been on sale in the UK available to readers worldwide. UK sales were not too discouraging; first (and only) print runs sold quite well. Even so, I am definitely more of a poet than a novelist, although I enjoy writing fiction, and sheer enjoyment has to be as good a motivation as any.  [Few publishers have shown much interest in my fiction and not all those serialised on the blog have been published in print form; copyright to each, though, remains exclusively mine.]

As a librarian in public libraries most of my working life, it would both amuse and sadden me to see hot-blooded heterosexual readers hover near the counter until no one else was waiting before presenting any gay-interest items (a novel,  DVD, biography of a gay icon etc.) to be issued or discharged. Many UK libraries have now installed issue/discharge machines that will spare them any such embarrassment. Yet, why be embarrassed?  Imagination is an Open House. I can only put it down to human nature’s preoccupation with a ‘guilt by association’ ethos and habitual inclination to jump to conclusions.

I wrote this poem while thinking about writing my first novel, ‘Dog Roses; a Gay Man’s Rites of Passage.’ The book was never published except on the blog. No publishers were interested, but that did not matter. By the time I had finished writing it, I realised why I had so needed to write it in the first place. Putting aside aspirations of fame and fortune (just as well) I needed to stop thinking about exploring human nature through fiction, and get on with it, give it my best shot. I have no regrets; it has provided as rewarding an experience as poetry but via different routes and from different angles. As for talent, well, that’s something else altogether…and up to you to form your own opinions.

This poem is a villanelle.


Exploring the human condition,
its good, bad and ugly
life forces stranger than fiction

Its flaws demanding attention
for all a subtle simplicity
exploring the human condition

Nature, seeing its contribution
side-lined by egocentricity;
life forces stranger than fiction

Satirised, the art of retribution
(reasoning a moral propriety)
exploring the human condition

Its art, a caricatured rendition
of this life’s tragicomedy;
life forces stranger than fiction

Word-pictures in an exhibition
for whosoever cares to see;
exploring the human condition,
life forces stranger than fiction

Copyright R. N. Taber 1997; 2016

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