The right words are little coughs from off-stage, promptings, triggers, intimations of something near and distant ... and finally connected to you, right through your skin.
I like this, and I also like the fact that he says that this is why you can't just go making poetry out of other people's suggestions or reported incidents, but I'm pretty uncomfortable (as I guess Anne Enright might be) with his suggestion that the same can't be said for fiction.
As far as I'm concerned, this is a pretty accurate description of the conception of fiction (as I've indicated in the piece I wrote as part of the series on author 'inspiration' for John Baker's blog) - especially short stories which I believe are closely related to poems. Laird's account of a poem's gestation: 'Not a wholly intended process', depending on Maeterlink's 'concentration, intensity of mood', is not unlike my own description of a story's gestation in my Quill magazine interview, and for me the 'clarification' of a story similarly depends (if to lesser extent) on 'sonic effect'.
And actually, when it comes to novels, it's not that different, either, as far as I'm concerned...
This is why, when my mum rings up on Sundays with the latest scandal or family crisis and the inevitable rider: 'There's a story there for you!', like Laird I can only politely murmur agreement, knowing it won't go anywhere.