I don't really recall the writing process in that much detail. It began when the results of the Brexit referendum came out. I was on holiday in Montreal at the time (I voted remain by post). The "Montreal" refrain was imposed by the fact that the poem was an echo of Samuel Butler's 19th-century comic poem "A Psalm of Montreal" (https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/A_Psalm_of_Montreal) although my poem is neither comic nor anything like the original in theme. I just wanted to echo it because it was the only poem I knew about Montreal. I would have begun it in a notebook but moved on to the computer very quickly, because I revise so much that I soon can't read my own writing.
I don't regard a poem as being immutable just because it's in print. One of the fun things about doing a Selected is going through old poems that have been book-published for years and improving them.
I have no control over that, once it leaves my hands. For me it was about being in a very laid-back, cosmopolitan, open-minded place and regretting that the place I came from had shown itself so petty and small-minded. But others may see other things in it.
I don’t mean emotion should be completely
absent from poems but that the poet should always be in control of it and using it, in a quite calculated manner, as they would any other means of communication. I would say Louise Gluck does that, and Paul Henry, also, most of the time Jack Gilbert – see the-matter-of-fact deadpan tone of “Michiko Dead”.