Last week, I found myself looking at the Iraq Inquiry, published in 2016, for no reason other than curiosity. Its author Sir John Chilcot had compiled the document from hearings held between 2009 and 2011. As the full report runs to 2.6 million words, there is a search function on a dedicated website.
Unbelievably, report-writing shares a trait with poetry: the text is usually trimmed back to the bone, with no unnecessary words. There are some poets who take advantage of this to create found poetry.
I thought I would try this myself. Of all the words in the Chilcot Report, there are three direct references to poetry, and all of them are about the same event, namely the Basra Poetry Festival. This is mentioned in passing as part of a wider point about peacekeeping activities.
And it was during a meeting of my poetry group last week that the piece began to take shape. By the end of the meeting, I had a draft version of my final piece, formed of two paragraphs taken directly from one of the sections.
I still need to see whether the piece works after it’s been left aside for a while, but it’s looking like a winner this time.