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Monday, February 25, 2019

Robert Sheppard: Interview with me on rob mclennan's blog

I wrote a Tweet praising rob mcleannan's interview blog - and ended up being invited to contribute to his series. Which I have. Thanks to rob for extending his already extensive invitations to me!

All the other interviews, possibly thousands to date! (have a look and see who you want to follow up) are all posted here. And the blog more generally may be accessed here. Or from The List to the right of these posts.

The interview with me is here

Me reading at Edge Hill with the prints of Pete Clarke behind me
I always approach interviews as being of the moment, so quite a lot of quotidian stuff comes in. Rob works by asking the SAME questions of everyone, something I wouldn't do myself, but on this scale the range of answers to a simple question (like number 13) is intriguing. For my part, the most interesting answer was to question 6, which I answered by quoting myself:

In my poetics piece Pulse I wrote: ‘Throughout this process, contingency is its rhythm, a pulse that matches the varieties of montage, de-montage, that I attempt in my own practice, with interruption as structure, with transformation and transposition, formal resistance, creative linkage, “imperfect fit”, near-perfect fit, all kinds of multi-form unfinish.’ I think that about sums up my current poetics. I am also a critic; my most recent book, The Meaning of Form, opens with the statement: ‘Poetry is the investigation of complex contemporary realities through the means (meanings) of form.’ I could say more about these poetics (and about poetics in general, which I have also written on, as a speculative writerly discourse) but I think I’ll stand by these two statements and muse over them.

And 'muse' over them I shall. 

Here are the questions. See how I answer them. If you are a writer, how would YOU answer them?


1 - How did your first book change your life? How does your most recent work compare to your previous? How does it feel different?

2 - How did you come to poetry first, as opposed to, say, fiction or non-fiction?

3 - How long does it take to start any particular writing project? Does your writing initially come quickly, or is it a slow process? Do first drafts appear looking close to their final shape, or does your work come out of copious notes?

4 - Where does a poem usually begin for you? Are you an author of short pieces that end up combining into a larger project, or are you working on a "book" from the very beginning?

5 - Are public readings part of or counter to your creative process? Are you the sort of writer who enjoys doing readings?

6 - Do you have any theoretical concerns behind your writing? What kinds of questions are you trying to answer with your work? What do you even think the current questions are?

7 – What do you see the current role of the writer being in larger culture? Does s/he even have one? What do you think the role of the writer should be?

8 - Do you find the process of working with an outside editor difficult or essential (or both)?

9 - What is the best piece of advice you've heard (not necessarily given to you directly)?

10 - How easy has it been for you to move between genres (poetry to critical prose)? What do you see as the appeal?

11 - What kind of writing routine do you tend to keep, or do you even have one? How does a typical day (for you) begin?

12 - When your writing gets stalled, where do you turn or return for (for lack of a better word) inspiration?

13 - What fragrance reminds you of home?

14 - David W. McFadden once said that books come from books, but are there any other forms that influence your work, whether nature, music, science or visual art?

15 - What other writers or writings are important for your work, or simply your life outside of your work?

16 - What would you like to do that you haven't yet done?

17 - If you could pick any other occupation to attempt, what would it be? Or, alternately, what do you think you would have ended up doing had you not been a writer?

18 - What made you write, as opposed to doing something else?

19 - What was the last great book you read? What was the last great film?

20 - What are you currently working on?

There is also another interview on my blog here: conducted by Alice Lenkiewicz: something to contrast with rob's, and in anticipation of two recent interviews which have been included in The Robert Sheppard Companion. More on that soon.