I started writing poetry when I was sixteen after watching the U2 film 'Rattle and Hum'. There is a point in the film when it changes from black and white into colour. The stage backdrop turns a blood red and Bono starts giving it loads! I remember rushing up to my bedroom afterwards, finding a scrap of paper and starting to compose.
The funny thing was that I didn't identify with myself in the poem. It was a deeply personal verse but I didn't sense I was feeling the way the poem described. It is true that I was not use to 'expressing my feelings.' That had only become cool a few moments before. But more important than the poem was the window this opened up for me.
Until I was sixteen, I didn't read anything unless I had to. I took no interest in things that were not of my immediate concern. My school grades probably reflected this. I lacked curiousity. That year, however, I started visiting a secondhand book shop in my home town. I would at random pick up things that I knew very little about- whether that be Italian poets or a biography of a London school in the early eighties.
This all delighted me and was worth a hundred years of compulsory schooling.
I was smitten. I had caught the bug. This desire to learn is worth more than intelligence or riches. It is the factor that makes sure that things get done. It also teaches moderation for one begins to learn that the world is a wonderful and strange place. Before I had lived within myself, cut off from so many possibilities. This had changed all of a sudden. I began to look outwards.