The Blogging Tour

Evening folks.  You lucky lucky people! Two blog posts in two days – unheard of generosity from me.

The poet Em Strang got in touch with me via Facebook a couple of months ago to ask me if I’d be interested in taking part in a festival that she co-organises called ‘Carrying the Fire’ which you can find more information about here

From Em’s description it feels very different to any other festival I’ve been too – and we are working on a performance which will interweave our poetry with a musician – so I will have to (properly) learn my poems off by heart, rather than vaguely…gulp!

Anyway, Em then asked me if I would like to take part in ‘The Blogging Tour’ which involves answering a series of questions and then linking readers on to three other writers – so here goes…It’s a bit like a Neck Nomination but without the alcohol or lewd behaviour!

1. What am I working on?
I’m working on a sequence of poems called ‘How I Abandoned My Body To His Keeping’.  I’m hoping to publish this sequence as a pamphlet.  The poems are about domestic violence, or more accurately about a relationship which is full of violence.  There is a lot of Ovid in the pamphlet in that I was reading him at the same time – Ovid’s Metamorphoses strikes me as the most violent of stories at a very basic level of the human body being constantly transformed and changed by an ‘other’.  The poems come from personal experience but they are not confessional and they do not really stack up to a narrative – not in the sense of ‘this happened, then this happened, then this happened’ – they are a working out of the effects of violence on the psyche, more than a timeline of specific events.

I’m also working on my first collection which is provisionally called ‘For the Act of Falling’.  At the minute I have a quandry because I don’t know whether to put in the above sequence into it,which would mean other poems would have to come I’m at the stage of trying different combinations of poems out.

How does my work differ from others of this genre?I suppose everybody wants their work to be different and unique but just as important to me is having the shadows of other poets standing behind my work – for example I don’t think I would have started writing the sequence if I hadn’t read Moniza Alvi and saw how she manages to write about violence or Helen Ivory’s latest collection ‘Waiting for Bluebeard’ where she uses the story of Bluebeard to write about domestic violence.  I guess the only way we can all be different from each other is to write about the things that only we can know – I don’t know another female poet who lives in an industrial town in the Lake District and is a trumpet player and has a father who is a scaffolder…and maybe it is these things that makes my work different from other poets….

Why do I write what I do?Because I can’t not write it!  Sometimes something happens to me and I know it will be a poem – although I don’t know when I will write it.  Sometimes I will be writing and I will discover what I really think about something – which sounds daft, but sometimes I don’t know until I write it.  I was thinking yesterday after a reahearsal with my brass ensemble, how both music and poetry are a kind of reaching out.  In the rehearsal we were practicing coming in together without counting in verbally first of all, then without using any body language to come in, then with our eyes shut and just breathing together.  In moments like that there is a connection between the members of the group, maybe for just a moment before it falls apart and we are out of sync again.  And then the musicians, after reaching to connect with each other in rehearsal must then reach to connect with an audience.  And I think poetry is like that, except the poet is somehow trying to connect with themselves – not in a confessional way, but in a what is the truth of what I’m trying to say way, and then the poem must also reach out I think, when it is read, or when the poet performs it at a reading…

How does your writing process work?
I write a lot in workshops – I really enjoy them – I think a good workshop exercise can be a good doorway into the poem you really want to write.  When I am writing, whether in a workshop or at home, it is usually a big block of prose which I then leave in my notebook for a couple of weeks before typing up on a computer and putting the line breaks in – I find it impossible to do anything with line breaks until I type it up.  I also really like the feel of typing on a computer – I like the shape words make when I’m typing – and am very grateful that I taught myself to touch type when I was 16! Good old ‘Mavis Beacon’ (helpful teach yourself touch typing program)

If my poems start from real life, I usually exaggerate them.  I don’t feel like I ever really sit down to write (unless I’m in a workshop) – I normally sit down to read and then writing comes from that if it is going to come!

If you would like to follow the blogging tour, three of my lovely writerly friends will be responding on Monday 17th –

Andrew Forster
– Andrew Forster is the Literature Officer at the Wordsworth Trust.  His first full-length collection ‘Fear of Thunder’ was published by Flambard in 2007 and was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection.  His second collection ‘Territory’ was published in 2010 by Flambard and his third collection ‘Homecoming’ will be published by Smith/Doorstop in October 2014..

Maria Taylor –
Maria Taylor has appeared in various magazines, including The Rialto, Acumen and The North and her first collection Melanchrini (Nine Arches Press) was shortlisted for the Michael Murphy Memorial Prize in 2013.

Roy Marshall –

Roy Marshall’s pamphlet ‘Gopagilla’ was published by Crystal Clear in March 2012 and his first full collection ‘The Sunbathers’ was published by Shoestring Press in November 2013

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