Thursday 20 February 2014

A poetry blog tour

Matt Merritt was looking for people to take part in a tour of poetry blogs, so like him I answered four standard questions about my own work. Also like him I'm happy to link to other poets who want to continue the tour.

What am I working on?

A blank-verse poem about Art and Time is vexing me at the moment. I'm also trying to get another pamphlet out. The number of pamphlet competitions is increasing, so I'm giving them a try. I've been sending out a general pamphlet and two themed ones.

How does my work differ from others in the genre?

Mostly it doesn't. Currently I'm trying to publish some poems old and new that depend on re-arranging letters. I've tried to justify this in an article that was accepted by Hinterland - Something Old, Something New – The Return of Letters. My rationale is that just as some poets use sound-effects to enrich their work (engaging an extra part of their - and the reader's - brain) so letter-effects can be used too. The trouble is that just as some readers (especially those not brought up with rhyme/metrics) get fixated by rhymes to the detriment of the content, so some readers over-emphasise the wordplay.

I'm also happy to incorporate non-lyrical material, in particular essay-like sentences or factoids.

Content-wise I think I've more of an aversion than many writers have to doing what's been done before, even if I've never done it before. Why add to the pile of poems about finding your old toys and jigsaws in the loft?

Why do I write what I write?

It's not an uncontrollable urge. I can imagine not writing poetry - I average only a poem a month anyway. I don't see poetry as a way to express the otherwise inexpressible (though it may be the shortest, most elegant way I can express something, so I try).

I find it less likely that I'd give up creative writing in general. Increasingly I'm distrusting white-space. If I have a little idea I'd rather use it to slightly strengthen a story than plonk it grandly in the middle of a plinth of white-space and give it a suggestive title.

How does your writing process work?

I scribble notes on scraps of paper. Sounds, interesting words, phrases, ideas for poems, etc. They get collected into notebooks. Every so often I trawl through the notebooks. Here's an extract

Sometimes (though less often lately) a poem arrives more suddenly, bypassing the notebook. First drafts are always hand-written. I might hand-write several more drafts. Only when I think I might be able to finish the piece do I type it in.

Now see the next part of the tour

Tuesday 18 February 2014

States of Independence, Leicester 2014

States of Independence is happening on Saturday 15 March at Clephan Building, De Montfort University, Leicester, and it's all free. Dozens of small presses will be there, and there are dozens of talks starting from 11am. "This year there is a strong emphasis on fiction … we have asked each and every session to include something on marketing".