Why do you write?
I write because I feel a need to communicate even my weird self. Curiously, when I write people accept what I have to say better than if I went round just talking about it in conversation. It seems a writer is expected to be strange.
What books do you read?
TS Eliot, Dylan Thomas, Paul Celan, Jerome Rothenberg, the Ted Hughes of Crow, Philip Gross, John Burnside, Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Mallarmé, David Pollard, Charles Olson, JH Prynne, Denise Levertov, James Schuyler, Jack Spicer, Kenneth Koch, Robert Creeley, Paul Blackburn, ee cummings, William Carlos Williams, Amiri Baraka, Gary Snyder, Anselm Hollo, Adrian Henri, Jaynae Cortez, Sylvia Plath, Kathleen Fraser, Ron Padgett, Ray DiPalma, Alice Notley, Wanda Coleman, Ron Silliman, Bob Perelman, David Shapiro, Rae Armentrout, Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge, Charles Bernstein, Federíco García Lorca, Vasko Popa, Antony Owen.
Dystopian and fantasy novels especially Neil Gaiman, Phillip Pullman, Terry Pratchett. China Miéville, Garth Nix, JK Rowling, Michael Moorcock.
Wittgenstein, Ethomethodology – Harvey Sacks, Harold Garfinkel
What inspires you?
Death, graveyards, birth, refugees, Greek, Celtic, Scandinavian and prehistoric mythology, buses, people on buses, people off buses.
How did you know you wanted to be a writer and when?
In 1968, after reading Louis MacNeice and the Liverpool Poets. I thought, ‘I can do that’ and convinced myself that I really could. Ah, self-deception! I’m still trying.
How do you deal with rejection?
I often think, ‘Oh good! Now I can edit them a little and send them somewhere else’ or ‘How the hell did I think that that poem was good enough!’
Who are some writers you admire?
See the books I read
Is writing the only artistic medium you do?
I play guitar, but not very well and I have done a little (very little) painting.
What would be some advice you would give to your younger self?
Don’t stop! Take advantage of every opportunity to learn more. Don’t be such a wanker!
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Write, write and then write some more. When you need to relax, read! Scissors are almost as important as a pen or a keyboard. Be cruel!
What is your writing process?
Typically, I write ideas, images, words, lines, even complete poems down in a notebook I always have with me. This often happens on the bus to and from work. This may or may not grow into a poem or be recognised as a poem. It may get rewritten several times – the editing process is going on all the time – and then it will be copied onto the computer (another opportunity for editing). I then share it ‘friends only’ on Facebook where, as Helen Ivory describes the process, I hang it up to dry for a time. If it’s any good it will possibly be edited again and then sent off with the hope that it will find a home.
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