You know how it is when you haven't written for a while?
Sounds of creak creak coming from the creative well and whispers of Can I still do this rising from the doubting monkey mind.
Went to my local cafe and sat down with a printed out copy of the poem. I read it and then wrote to it line-by-line with this formula: I inverted every word and phrase of Bidart's poem.
Wrote to the end and then started to revise.
Did I feel incompetent and out of shape and frustrated? HELL NO. It felt damn good to sit there communing with poetry. If you were at the Madison Park Starbucks on Dec 30th, and saw a woman sitting by a window with tears in her eyes, well -- that was me.
Most of the time we're writing, it's the process that matters. We can pull in our critical selves when it's time to do the revising and editing and prep a piece for public viewing. Until then, what matters is the doing, discovering, playing. Lock the judge in her bedroom until you're ready for her. But back to kick starting yourself.
Use other writers, their work -- or some of your previous work -- as support, a writing partner or scaffolding.
Write in between the lines of a poem: write your version of each image or phrase; write the opposite, (as I did in the above example); use the lines simply as company so you don't have white space in front of you.
Or, write your version of the next line of that poem all the way through. When you're done, remove the original poem and see what you have. Even if it feels like it's going to be nonsensical, you'll be surprised.
And if it helps to write with someone else's poem or opening novel paragraph or brilliant essay passage, do it.