In our writers group it has almost become a joke that when someone reads a poem or a story we automatically advise them to leave out the first stanza or the first paragraph. This usually improves the piece. The instinct is to write an introduction but it's much better for the reader to be thrown in medias res as the Latin has it.
In the spring 2009 issue of The Stinging Fly poet Colette Bryce, writing about first drafts, expresses this so much better: "The big front door - my original opening- will have been necessary for leading me into the poem, but once in, I no longer need it. I like the reader to arrive in the room, the 'stanza', as if by magic. No doorbell".
This is part of a special magazine feature on First Drafts by six writers each of whom takes a different view. One of the writers is Irish poet and short story writer Nuala Ní Chonchúir who blogs here.
Colette Bryce reads and gives a workshop at the Poetry Now festival in Dun Laoghaire at the end of March. Her latest collection, Self Portrait in the Dark, is reviewed in this issue of The Stinging Fly.