You may call me a poet if you want. I prefer the term ‘not a poet’. I believe we are all poets to a degree and only a true poet would attempt to distance him or herself from the crowd. The contrarian in me does those kind of backflips quite a lot I’m afraid. The truth is, I often sit in front of my laptop (my preferred mode of operation) and wait for the words to come. And wait a bit more. Usually this scenario unfolds at home, where distractions abound, but it may also involve sad and lonely hotel rooms on the morning after spoken word gigs. Nothing screams ‘not a poet’ more than not being able to write a single word when you’re really really trying to.

When the muse does take me and the words eventually flow there is most certainly a tangible feeling of not being the actual writer. I would call myself a mere conduit in those times, a vessel into which the words are being channelled. It’s fun and it’s joyous. Spooky I know. But I can tell the difference between a piece of poetry that has been given up to me and a piece I have forced out of myself. I believe art in its purest form is something otherworldly the artist, whatever the chosen medium of expression, has tapped into.

And it’s why I believe children make the best artists. Though perhaps lacking in the technical skills they have a direct line to the place where pure art comes from. Kids don’t have to navigate through years of social conditioning and prejudice. They don’t worry about rules, nor about how their efforts will be received. They just naturally tune in to the right vibe. They don’t call themselves artists because they don’t see themselves that way. They’re just having fun. And that’s the key to it all.

The price of growing up is we lose the childlike connection to the ether we are all born with. Our first task as writers, musicians, painters, sculptors is to think of ourselves as ‘not a writer/musician/painter/sculptor’. Only once that barrier is down, can the fun can really start.

Derek Rohren in Bristol

Derek Dohren is a Gloucestershire based poet who finds much of his inspiration while driving buses through the Forest of Dean. He hastens to add that he does not ‘write and drive’, but rather makes mental notes of life’s absurdities as they present themselves to him, often in the guise of unwitting passengers. He also writes a lot (perhaps too much) about tea and cakes. His first poetry collection, ‘The Man Who Wasn’t Isabel’ is currently being compiled.

He has previously published two books, ‘Ghost on the Wall’, the authorised biography of Liverpool FC manager Roy Evans, ISBN-13 978-1840188325, and the autobiographical ‘The Cats of the River Darro’, ISBN-13 978-1478315537.

Derek is also a painter and winner of Artist and Illustrator magazine ‘Landscape Artist of the Year, 2009’. His work, and selected poetry, can be seen at and his paintings and photography on the Facebook page ‘The Art of Derek Dohren’.