Not Human Enough for the Census, by Erik Fuhrer is a poetry collection that dips into nightmares, netherworlds, and fantasies. However, there is a remarkable truth that shines through. The references to the uncanny are grounded in realism. Perhaps the text offers us escapism?
When I read, ‘mask of feathers’ and ‘my other face’ in the first poem of the collection, I noted how we are invited to look at the writings as something otherworldly perhaps, ‘not quite human’. Fuhrer goes as far as saying that the ‘world has ended already’. However, the lines, ‘a finger/ that I cut/ out from an origami flower/ with a stem that went on forever’ display an unrestrained beauty that is to be found throughout. This is edgy, prickly poetry. It is barbed, and filled with images akin to nightmares, ‘rat gnawing at/ the glass of your nightmare’.
Fuhrer is constantly shifting our attention across the page – in a rejection of form and structure that strengthens the otherworldliness. However, this is contrary to the images of ‘slugs/ and worms and apples/ and pears…’ By working with the grimy and earthy the poet roots their work, in the familiar, and this is only heightened by the polysyndeton.
We are encouraged to imagine. This is a collection that errs on the edge of normalcy, of the known and presents us with hugely evocative and unexplainable images, ‘now the tree that grows/ between my teeth/ is an infinitely splitting atom’
It would be remiss of me, to consider the collection without giving due consideration to the accompanying artwork by Kimberly Androlowicz, which is equally strong, striking, and evocative. Some of the images have the appearance of rudimental cave paintings. The pairing of artists is complimentary in both directions. The use of colour is bold, and raw, but definitely not amateur. Indeed, the images provide a landscape for these texts. I personally like to read poetry that has a sense of place, and though this poetry is at times unearthly, the landscapes ground it.
This has a feeling throughout that it is as much about creation, as it is about destruction. The work is as much about new beginnings, as it is about death and endings. This is perhaps, furthered in the poems that deal with splitting of carbon atoms and blood, ‘god is liquid in the tempest’.
If one is looking for commonalities between the poems, they are there. This is poetry that stimulates, and whisks you from striking image to striking image. Poetry about blood, and skin cells, about life and being. Prepare to be challenged. There is nothing ordinary about this work. These are poems ‘with holes/ without lungs/ without breath/ without body’.
There is a playfulness in shroom destruction; a waggishness that cuts through some of the difficult language and form. And, in a chanwinked spider, I find the beauty that I am looking for within a collection, and this is for me, the standout text, ‘in the swipe of/ glittering/ slips/ the wire/ onto my body/ as I/ sling/ the cockroach anthem/ to the wind’. Here, in this pithy text, the poet showcases all of their talents: surprising and creative language use; powerful, evocative imagery; and experimental form. That it is brief and perhaps mirrors my style of writing is not lost on me. We like what we like.
I think my favourite lines from the whole collection are the following, they display an attitude, that this poet is going to do things their own way, ‘the answer has the heart of a black hole/ leave it the fuck alone’. If I was going to make comparisons between poets, then there is certainly something of Stuart Buck here, in the otherworldliness and frankness of these texts.
thresholds is a fine example of poetry tiptoeing between the fantastic and the real. Certainly, it is, ‘a knitted masterpiece tucked beneath his ears that would usher in his demise/ as a human and resurrection as the world’s most realistic mannequin’.
The deeper into the text you wander, the more at home with it you become. By the time I reached, all filiation is imaginary, I had developed a relationship with the poetry that went beyond mere reading for purposes of review; I was reading it because I was enjoying it. Wholeheartedly! Indeed, there is a genuine, sparse beauty in, ‘becoming fish/ gilled heart/ gilded tongue/ a spider RANSACKING/ the/ web/ of/ my throat’. This collection from Fuhrer is certainly worth your time and attention.
When I began to network with the poetry community in my local area, Ian was one of the first people I reached out to.
When did you start writing and what do you think attracted you to poetry?
Ian: I think poetry for me
initially acted as an escape and memory. My Grandfather came over from Canada
in 1937 and he became a fan of the Liverpool poets during the 60s, he saw in
them something good about communication, and tried to install that into me. I
didn’t write my serious first poem till I was about 14 and living in Bicester,
it came on the back of listening to a lot of Progressive Rock, bits of Heavy
Metal and a lot of 80s pop.
I really enjoyed the Liverpool music and the
way it used a more direct language than I had been used to growing up in rural
Oxfordshire, in my later teens such as Pete Wylie, The Christians and The
Icicle Works as I approached the end of the 80s, the sound they made, the anger
and energy that flowed through their lyrics, but also a love that I was feeling
in other music. But it was perhaps listening to Marillion, to Fish, Genesis,
Pink Floyd and Rush that first caught my ear. I remember hearing Marillion’s Misplaced
Childhood for the first time and thinking, in youthful arrogance perhaps,
that I could do that, not the music, I already had figured out that I could not
play a note on anything, but the words, the playfulness and the force of the
There was a lot of teenage angst, a
lot of poetry about girls, thankfully most of them liked it, so they told me.
But I never performed them, looking at some them now, wow they are awful, but
there is a nugget in each of them.
I think the attraction came from
there, the willingness to surrender to the application, the emotions, the word
play, the settling of a debt in a sentence. I have always thanked my
Grandfather for the love of poetry, I also think having listened to Progressive
Rock at a very young age also had a hand in it.
Can you tell me about your journey into
Long, extremally difficult, mainly
My first poem published was in a
book called World In Crisis, (I am a couple of pages in front of the literary
giant Quentin Crisp), that was a highlight for me. After that I continued
writing but never publishing anything, never seeking to be published but
dreaming of becoming a writer and poet throughout my 20s. Work got in the way,
children came along, I was too exhausted to do anything creative, and when I
did I found I was being ridiculed for it, poetry especially, there was always a
hangover, people saying, (especially from school teachers) that it wasn’t
really a form of expression that men should do.
The accident of publication
started after I had major surgery on my spine in 2003. An old friend of mine,
my next-door neighbour when I was a child, rang me up and asked how I was, that
I hadn’t been seen for a few months. The surgery took a lot out of me,
physically and mentally, my marriage was breaking down, I was in a lot of pain,
harbouring a lot of anger at a system that had not believed me when I started
feeling the pain in my spine at 17 and was quite happy to keep telling me it
was my head.
He asked me if I wanted to go and
see Fish at the Bilston Robin that night, just to have a good time. Andrew was
the Arts Editor for the Birmingham Mail at the time, and as I sat at the
computer after the show, I thought I could write a review for him, 180 words, I
can do that. Wrote it, sent it across and he loved it, asked me to do more.
Whether you see that as accident
or providence that is how it started. It has been a hell of long journey mind
and it has taken a lot of mental bashing to get to the place I am now.
How do you think you’ve evolved as a
writer over the years?
I put together a pamphlet of
poetry in late 2003, 20 or so poems that I had written in the previous year,
Searching For An Answer it was called, I think about 30 people in the world
have it. I don’t think evolving, for me anyway is a quick process. Poetry
always came first, the anarchy of it, refusing to tie myself down to form, now
I know it was a sub-conscious decision, that I was trying to be like a hero of
mine, Jack Kerouac. Stream of conscious writing. I have tried to follow that
path to the place I am now. A wonderful Liverpool lecturer once said to me that
the more you write, the more you write. Unless I am exhausted through pain, I
try to write every day, even then sometimes the pain bleeds into the writing.
Are there any parallels you can draw with some of your
favourite artists, and the work you are producing?
The trouble I guess with reading a
lot of different genres, regardless of poetry or in prose you tend to be
influenced by them all. I am a devotee of Jack Kerouac and of Dylan Thomas, of
Amelia Lanyer, Ted Hughes, Simon Armitage, Allen Ginsberg, Carol Ann Duffy,
Edgar Allen Poe and Roger McGough, however I have tried not to be in debt to
these writers …but you cannot help succumbing. I am not sure about parallels
with poetry, that I guess is up to other people to remark upon.
Can you describe your writing process? How important is the
editing process, and is this a solo effort?
Observe, think, write it down and
move on. I don’t believe in magic
formulas; inspiration is everywhere you look. I have difficulty with editing, I
rarely do it, in my prose writing I leave that to others, I think it comes down
to the stream of conscious writing that I have always maintained. It was the
same at University, for an essay I wrote what I thought and would leave it at
that; and it seemed to work. I suffer from anxiety, the more I can keep that at
bay the better it is.
It would appear that often you blur your voice, with that
of the poet speaker, how intentional is this? Is it fair to describe some of
your work as confessional?
I think it is dreadfully important
to be the voice of your own downfall or the conductor of the revolution in your
head. A poem to me is truth, even if it a lie, the imagination is the one area
of humanity to which nothing else can touch, its capability to invent and
conceive a word to describe love has to celebrated, and if you cannot do it in
your own voice then what is the point. Even when writing from different
perspectives, from the position of a man or woman, trans, CIS or anything, you
must observe something of yourself in what you write.
Have you ever performed your poetry at a recitation or
spoken word event? If so, how does this change the dynamic of the work?
I used to perform a lot. I got
invited to a poetry seminar in Washington D.C. once, sat at the same table as
the legendary actor Mickey Rooney which was a thrill. I have done a couple of
my own nights and joined in with others. The problem I have had for the last
couple of years is stamina and pain. I cannot perform sat down; the voice isn’t
right. Bearing in mind that I have several discs missing in my spine and am on
a lot of medication I cannot stand for too long either. My legs start to go. In
some ways I find I cannot do it anymore. I would love to do more, to go and do
what I what I wanted to do at 15, health though is a bug bear.
What makes for a good poem? Can you name your favourite
writers and what draws you to them?
Truth, imagination, personality, a
capacity to embrace being the fallen human being. Sometimes it is the rhythm
that gets me, Roger McGough, my favourite Liverpool poet, makes me laugh, and
he always remembers my name for some reason. Dylan Thomas will make me weep
with his fragility and bluster, Simon Armitage’s resonance is wonderfully
self-effacing but so gentle, Kerouac sought truth, Ginsberg sought it all.
Have you ever studied creative writing? Are there any plans
to study creative writing or literature more broadly?
I haven’t, at least not since school, saying that
I did a term at University. I wrote a 3,000-word short story based in part on
my Great Uncle who was one of the first medics into Belsen during World War 2.
What are you working on at present? And what do you think
is the major spur?
At the moment I am working on my
third novel, a horror, I hope, a departure from my usual way of thinking, My
second novel comes in June next year, a sequel to 2018’s The Death of Poetry. I
have a notebook by the side of me of 14 or so ideas for books, short stories, a
couple of plays and one really large poem in the vein of Ginsberg’s Kaddish. I
have decided to spend more time writing these than going to gigs.
Would you say that you have ever suffered for your art?
question, lol. How can you write poetry if you haven’t had your heart broken?
In some ways writing has been a cathartic feature, but it also takes you places
that you would rather not go. I found that in The Death of Poetry, a book that
came out my Nan dying. My Nan was my
biggest supporter, and when we found out that the breast cancer had spread, we
knew then she didn’t have long. My Dad told me to write the novel that I always
said I was going to do; I think he was trying to take my mind of my Nan’s rapid
deterioration. I wrote solidly for 24 days, almost completing it before she
died. On the day she died there was terrible gale and I remember shouting
outside of my front door, calling on whatever forces in the Universe had
conspired to make her ill, to let her go. At that point I felt her go, it was a
seamless horrible moment, but it gave me the strength to finish the book, I
needed to finish it for her.
Are you involved in the poetry community? It appears to me
as an active poet, that the chapbook and journal world is thriving right now,
do you submit or would you consider submitting in this way?
Unfortunately, I am not, mainly
because for the last 15 years or so I have been immersed in writing about the
art in Liverpool and that has always taken up so much of my time.
How do you measure success?
By finding out that I am still
breathing when I open my eyes.
How do you feel about describing yourself as a poet?
It feels kind of rebellious, I
enjoy that. I find there is still some inverted snobbery in some people’s minds
when it comes to poetry. I had a teacher once in my final year of school who
sent me my report card for the year and on it she wrote that she liked reading
my poetry, but I had to learn that I would not make a living out of it. I
walked the two miles back to school, slammed it on her desk and told her that
was not the point. It felt good to be angry at the suggestion.
Do you have any other ventures going aside from your
Unfortunately I am kind of boring,
I read, I listen to music, I watch the occasional hour of television and I
watch plays at the theatre…I used to go and watch Man City play, have been a
supporter since 1976, but these day the journey is too much and the cold hurts.
Other than that, I have nothing but what is in front of me, and that takes up a
lot of time.
What was the last album you listened to? What was the last
gig you went to?
I listen to music every day, I
find it a necessity, it is calming, it stirs the imagination. I try to review
an album a day but sometimes I find the time gets away from me. I recently had the pleasure of listening to
Amy Studt’s new album, The Happiest Girl In The Universe, very cool, and
the American Blues man Mike Zito pay tribute to Chuck Berry, incredible
versions. The last gig I went to was last night, Midge Ure at the Philharmonic
Hall. It was shrouded in a bit of sadness though as I knew after that I had
only about 5 live gigs that I will be attending, after over 1300 gig reviews
over the years I have decided to step back from that particular part of my
reviewing, it is taking too long to recover after a gig, and as I near 50 I
don’t want to be being sick for days just because I have gone out.
Following an incredibly productive year – I got the chance to catch up with Paul once again. He was as open and inciteful as ever.
Paul, you have something of the troubadour about you if you don’t mind my saying so. Where are you at right now?
Well I’ll take that as a
compliment! I guess the idea of the troubadour has always appealed, especially
since many of my heroes and influences could be considered as such. People like
Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Charles Bukowski, Lee Harwood, Joni Mitchell. Of
course the meaning has changed over time. Troubadour nowadays has that
free-spirited, hippyish, dedication-to-your-art connotation attached, which I
Right now I’m at a
crossroads in my life. I’ve been living between Spain and the U.K for most of
this year, and pursuing a career change that will take me away from lecturing.
I feel like I’ve achieved everything I can achieve in education now; the job
has changed to the extent that a lot of the pleasure has been taken out of it.
I still love working with people closely, and helping to inspire and encourage,
so my next move will still involve that close contact with people, but not in a
As far as the writing is
concerned, I’ve had a very promising year. I decided it was time to really
target literary magazines with my work at the beginning of 2019, and so far
I’ve had over fifty different publications take my work in seven months. I
think it is really important to spend the time submitting so you can broaden
your readership. It is also very rewarding and encouraging to see your work
alongside other emerging voices in a wide range of diverse and edgy
we last spoke, your third collection 35 has been published, do you want
to discuss the concept and how it differs from your first two collections?
My third collection, 35, is conceptual in the sense that it
features 35 poems, 35 images (mainly photographs taken around the world), and I
was 35 years old when I released it. It just felt like a bit of a benchmark.
It’s hard to explain. I liked the idea of doing something a little different.
My first two collections were traditional in the sense that they were poems
without a particular central theme. I think a poet has free reign to do
whatever they want, which is the beauty of the form.
have heard you say that your initial collection curse this blue raincoat was
a response to the work of Leonard Cohen and that Testimony was something
akin to saying what needed to be said, however honest and gnarled. What is the
major spur for you now?
I don’t have any
particular motivations in my poetry other than the need to write. It is a
thrill for me to stare down at a blank sheet of paper, or a blank word
document, and then realise hours later that I’ve crafted and created something
out of nothing. I guess I’m really digging into the depths of my own psyche
these days; I’ve had three published collections and hundreds of poems
published in literary magazines, so I’m much more comfortable in my own skin as
a poet now. The subject matter is rawer, darker, at times brutally honest. My
work is not as safe anymore as it once was. I’ve had people write to me and
tell me that my work has made them weep, or shocked them, or really unnerved
them. They are the best reactions I think because it shows that your work is
you say that you have ever suffered for your art?
This is really a
double-edged question because art, in the most part, is born out of suffering
of some sort. I’ve got a pretty good grip of myself at this stage in my life;
I’m not overawed by much, and any depressive tendencies I may have had in my
twenties are under control. Writing is an excellent form of therapy for me
because it helps me get to grip with everything going on around me in a
positive way. Everyone needs therapy of some sort in my opinion, whether you
suffer from mental illness or not. Some ride a bike, others paint, other walk
the dog or do yoga. I write poems. Have I suffered for that? Definitely. Would
I change it? Definitely not.
important is the editing process and is that a solo effort?
This is the one thing
that I have really improved over the years. A good poet has to also be a good
editor, because learning to slice away the excess to get down to the flesh is
so important in terms of quality. I can write a poem now, then come back to it
the next day and shave 50% of it off. Then I can come back the next day and do
the same again until I’m left with the essential lines. It takes courage to be
a good editor. I also have occasion where others are involved too. My great
friend Kate Evans sometimes takes a critical look at my poems in progress. I’m
also in the process of working with Matthew C Smith, the editor of Black Bough
Poems, to shape my next collection. More than one set of eyes can be a
brilliant reminder that your work can be better with sound advice.
interested to know has there been a shift of focus for you – from full-length
manuscript submission to journals far and wide? Is this an effort to reach a
wide readership and keep your finger on the pulse?
I released three
collections in the space of two years. That was the monster inside desperate to
get out. Once that trilogy was out it became more important for me to think
about a readership, and also explore the literary magazine / journal world. I
also find it very exciting to submit my work all over the world. You find out
so much about your work, but also your own temperament as a writer. Rejections
are never easy to stomach, especially if you have had to wait six months for a
reply without any sort of feedback, but acceptances are extremely uplifting.
That email landing that says “congratulations, we would love to take your
poem(s)…” is a feeling that I really enjoy. I’ve been accepted in some dream
magazines so far this year: Ghost City Press, Barren Magazine, The Bees Are
Dead, Burning House Press and Heron Clan to name but a few. If your name is
cropping up in these types of journals then you are probably being noticed to
some degree, which is not the be-all-and-end-all, but nice. Justification of
your commitment to your art, I guess.
excites you about the poetry scene right now?
The poetry scene is
thriving right now. In the same way that vinyl records have made a comeback, it
seems that poetry has been revived. If something has class, and authority, and
the power to move it will never go away. There are some great poets emerging
with distinct voices. I also like the indie scene that I keep up with on
Twitter too. I think many are opting to avoid the traditional publication
routes these days and do it for themselves. I have mixed feelings about this
because it inevitably means some folk have free license to publish any old crap,
but on the other side of the coin it has given some brilliant voices a chance
to emerge who wouldn’t have had the time or inclination to pursue a publisher.
Traditional publishing can be such a long, drawn out, weary process, with lots
of wounding realisations and disappointments. The inner circle is still very
much who you know I’m afraid.
There are some really
exciting new magazines out there today. I really like Black Bough Poetry, which
is causing a stir and heading towards its third issue. I also like American
magazine, Cleaning Up Glitter. Selcouth Station is another magazine that I
really rate, and Streetcake magazine too. I’m happy to have featured in all of
them. A few magazines that have alluded me so far that I love are Okay Donkey,
Butcher’s Dog and Nightingale & Sparrow. It would be a dream to feature in
Ambit, or The New Yorker, or Under The Radar – all long established classic
do you measure success now?
Success to me is
happiness in what I’m doing. I’m extremely happy at the minute creating,
submitting, editing, and slowly working towards my next collection. If I get
positive responses to my work, which I regularly do (especially on Twitter,
which has been a great tool for interacting with similar minds) then that is
success in my eyes. Of course it would be great to find a reputable UK
publisher to show interest in my work, but I’m not quite ready to pursue that
with everything else going on.
do you feel about describing yourself as a poet?
I don’t generally. It has
obvious stigmas. I don’t advertise the fact that I write unless I’m in the
company of people who may be interested or appreciate it. I’m certainly not
ashamed of it – quite the opposite. I write poems and therefore I am a poet,
but I don’t feel the need to broadcast it. More and more people tend to ask me
about it these days, which is positive.
you open up on your route into publication?
I was lucky. That’s the
truth of it. I was working at a University in a relatively unheard city in
China, called Nanning, when Kate Evans, a distinguished American writer, turned
up to lecture poetry. We became friends, spent afternoons together discussing
our passions for writing and poetry, and she was enthralled with my stuff. She
put me in touch with her editor who also liked my work and offered me the
opportunity to submit a collection. That’s how curse this blue raincoat was born, and Kate Evans helped me to both
edit and order it, and she also wrote the forward. I was in the right place at
the right time.
do you reflect on your decision to leave teaching?
It was time to leave. As
I mentioned before, teaching has become a business where there is too much
focus on unrealistic attainment instead of the individual. Teachers have become
powerless scapegoats today, and quite frankly I got fed up with working eighty
hour weeks, doing everything I possibly could to be the best teacher I could,
and getting told that too much was never enough. It is no coincidence that ALL
my former teaching colleagues are either in different careers or working abroad
now. The government have a lot to do to battle this problem because the
profession has lost some incredible people to teach, influence and encourage
have spoken about your desire to release a novel – do you have an update for
your ever-growing fan base who are eager for more work?
I’ve definitely got a
novel in me, but it just hasn’t happened yet. At the moment I’m almost entirely
focused on poetry, but I’d like to think I could write one before I’m 40. I’ve
completed two, but they were both shit. I think I want to try and get a few
more poetry collections out there first before I focus on sitting down to pen the novel. I’ve had some short stories
and flash fiction pieces published lately in various magazines (most notably
The Fiction Pool and Iceberg Tales), but the longer form is much more
you tell us about your favourite novels – what is it about them that draws you back
to them? What are you reading at the moment?
Wow, how long have you
got! I’d have to try and narrow them down. I loved Journey To The End Of The Night by Louis Ferdinand Céline. It is
such a dark but funny novel. I thought Women
and Ham On Rye were two great
novels by Charles Bukowski. He had a remarkable way of tapping into raw
emotion. I think Gabriel García Márquez’s One
Hundred Years Of Solitude is just about as poetic as prose can be. He was a
There are a few more
contemporary novels that I’ve enjoyed very much: Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides, Never
Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, and The
God Of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. I love Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, and found myself engrossed in its
1500 pages for months. In Cold Blood by
Truman Capote is mesmerising. Things Fall
Apart by Chinua Achebe is essential reading. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov is disturbingly gripping. I like the
early novels of H.G Wells and Stephen King – both writers who bring back fond
memories of my teen reading. Dickens is consistently brilliant, and the
greatest creator of memorable characters. I’ll end there because I could go on
forever. At the moment I am tackling Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, and thoroughly enjoying it.
who follows you will know that you’re an accomplished musician and lover of all
sorts of different musical genres. But what was the last album you listened to
and what was the last gig you got to?
I have been having a real
Joni Mitchell phase of late. I think it is my appreciation of her poetic lyrics
that draws me back to her again and again. Court
& Spark is the album I really love, although her debut album, Song To A Seagull, is incredible too. It
really says something that the likes of David Crosby, Graham Nash, and Stephen
Stills regard her the greatest songwriter of all time, even ahead of Bob Dylan
and Leonard Cohen. Joni is very inspiring.
I watched the Beach Boys
a few weeks back in Marbella, Spain, and loved every second of it. I’ve spent
the last twenty years watching live music, and I can honestly saw it was one of
my favourite gigs ever. What a body of work. Mike Love is the only original
member left, but the musicianship was spectacular. It was in an amazing venue in
the mountains too.
you concerned about the passage of time?
Of course. Especially
when you see people that you know die, and the reality of mortality dawns on
you. I guess I’m about half way through now if I’m lucky enough to live a
normal lifespan, which feels crazy. I still feel like I’m eighteen. The passage
of time is a major theme or point of consideration for most artists I think. We
are all battling against the years and what we can achieve or fit in before we
die. I love the fact that many of the old musicians like McCartney, Dylan, CSNY
and The Stones are all still out there touring and making music, essentially
defying age. They are all heading towards eighty, so times have changed;
artists are continuing to be artists for longer, and evidently until death.
experience/authenticity important to you? Are you comfortable with the idea of
travel writing when written from the perspective of the privileged white man –
and if not, how do you combat this?
I think you have to take
your privilege and use it for good. I know how fortunate I am to be where I’m
from. I’ve been all over Asia, and into some of the poorest and most deprived
places on earth. I had four years living in China, which is desperately poor in
places. I’ve been to North Korea, Myanmar, Laos, Philippines, Sri Lanka,
Cambodia, Vietnam and India. I’ve seen heart stopping poverty. I don’t think
you can hide away from your privilege. You just have to be humble about it, and
grateful. Whenever I write about these places, whether it be in my poetry or
otherwise, I try to tell it how it is, but also attempt to be positive in some
way. I’ve seen some really disturbing stuff, but it only opens your mind
further to what is possible artistically. And, by the way, some of the greatest
people I’ve ever met have been from these places where they have nothing. We
can learn so much.
you overly concerned by the nuts and bolts of language/stylistics? Or do you
have broader concerns about bigger themes?
I am definitely a fan of
minimalism. I like the shorter poem, and even the micro-poem. I think they can
both be as powerful as the longer form. Anyone that knows my work will also
know that I favour the narrative form. I don’t hold back with language. If the
poem needs expletives then it gets them. It totally depends on that specific
poem and the feelings you are trying to convey.
As far as themes are
concerned, I rarely tackle the major themes these days. I think if you want to
write about Trump, or Brexit, or climate change, or human rights abuses, or
#metoo, you’ve got to get it inch perfect or you can look preachy or insincere.
Half of these things I mention I’m not qualified to comment on, so I generally
don’t. It doesn’t mean I don’t care about such issues. With my writing,
especially my poetry, I tend to write about my own experiences and emotions, as
well as the things I observe in my daily existence. If you watch the news for
too long with the intention of writing about it you’ll go crazy pretty quickly.
what would you say makes a quality poem? Is it tied to the idea of
The answer to that
question is different for every reader. I personally don’t relate to anything
too lofty or contrived. I like to read about things I understand, or can relate
to. I like it when a writer is prepared to spill their guts. I like bravery.
I’ve read some really raw poetry of late that has made me stop in my tracks. I
think the perfect poem uses every single word as a sucker punch. A great poem has
impact, and doesn’t waste words or lines that aren’t needed. To answer your
question, for me, great poetry is accessible, yes; but not for everyone.
I will keep writing whilst I’m on a roll, continue submitting whilst I’m having success, and continue enjoying homing my craft. At some point towards the end of this year I may be getting involved in editing a start-up journal, which will be exciting. I have my fourth collection in the mix at the moment, with enough solid work for a fifth soon after. The future looks promising as long as I stay disciplined.
The Last Night of Our Lives (poem – originally published in Anti-Heroin Chic)
The Old Man (poem – originally published in Dodging the Rain)
Hemmingway (poem – orginally published in Crepe & Penn)