Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Hey Rachel – thanks for having me back again. It’s odd to have two books come out back to back but they are from two different publishers. The poems are actually all rather recent. The pamphlet Portrait of the Artist with a Red Car in its entirety was my (winning) entry into Templar Poetry’s pamphlet competition. I had entered in 2008 too so I decided to enter a completely new set of poems this year.
I think poetry like short fiction is about the personal obsessions of the writer and so there are themes and motifs that re-occur a lot in all my writing: fertility, pregnancy, pregnancy loss, children, sex, relationships, the break-up of relationships, art. These are all things that occupy me and fascinate me, so inevitably that spills over into my writing.
So, to answer your question about timing, the stories were written first (2005 – 2008/9) and the poems came after, (2008 – 2009) but the same themes are with me even now.
In “When You Are Ready” you begin with a line about Narcissus:
To be honest, it’s mostly me. My poetry tends to come from a personal place. Some people talk about ‘confessional poetry’ as if it’s a disease or something. For me, as a poetry reader, I’d rather read a personal, moving poem than an impersonal treatise. Some of my poems are persona poems (I’ve never danced with poet Paul Durcan, for example!) but mostly the poems come from my life and the lives of women I am curious about. I’m a feminist and that can’t help but spill over into all my work. Readers can – and will – take what they like from a poem; once it’s out there people will put their own spin on what a writer means by a poem.
I am going to ask you about your reference to Paul Durcan (poet and author of “Golden Mothers Driving West”), your dance with him, and if the “three Polish boys” in the title poem of your collection are a nod to Durcan's own poignant tribute to motherhood?
The Durcan poem is a bit of whimsy. I invented the encounter with him in The Winding Stair, which is a favourite book shop of mine in Dublin. I’m a fan of the man and his work; I love his style of reading and the diverse and very Irish voices in his poetry. I’ve only met him once and I just gushed briefly about his general wonderfulness. He smiled and nodded sagely.
The Polish boys in the title poem were nothing to do with Durcan. There are a lot of Polish immigrants in Ireland and watching them with their crap car, as I sat in my own crap car, got me wishing for better cars for us all. That thought process led me in the poem to me and my first husband’s car crash and I had my poem. I didn’t know where the poem was going when it started. I never know where any of my writing is off to when I step into it; that’s the mystery and fun of it, I guess. And I love that. On a slight tangent, it struck me lately that writing is the one place where I allow myself to be chaotic – I’m intensely organised in all other parts of my life.
I can't help thinking back to Nude again and how after I had interviewed you I was struck by how odd it was (to me) that I hadn't asked you about the art references in there and I'm not going to this time either, but I am going to thank you for coming all the way over here - here's a box of shortbread I made earlier, car shaped and iced in red - I'll take a photo before...oh, they're tasty, eh?. Readers, you'll have to imagine what they looked like!
Rachel, thanks again for having me over. It’s always a pleasure and I’m delighted to be here again.
If people want to buy the pamphlet it costs €6 (about NZ $12) from Templar Poetry here: http://www.templarpoetry.co.uk/publications/portrait-of-the-artist-with-a-red-car.html
Thanks again, and thanks TFE for the great tour logo.
Monday, December 7, 2009
Had they driven all this way
to come face to face
with the head
of a fat soaked
beast and a slick
intestines whose hosts
in the thick of it.
Was this the Styx,
bloodied and carcass
strewn? Had they
crashed, head long, into
hell? Their own
bodies mingled with
limbs, livers or hearts:
none could determine
in the horror as they
clambered from the
wreck of it. Merged
by-products of human
nature; the wish
to consume slips over
the tarmac, the verge,
the wayside: wasted.
The road is closed,
only for now.
Two posts for you this week - I'm going AWOL from blogging for a couple of weeks as I need to sort out some issues I am having with my WIP so please be patient with me: I'll try and keep up to scratch with comments on my blog but I may not be as visible in the rest of blog land for a while. Thank you. Your comments are, as always, very much appreciated.
This is death: the slow shuttering up of the drive to achieve
or the need to be desired. When all of my lines
accumulate and can be read "I don't care","I'm tired",
this is death. A dry stone wall in disrepair
for want of the stonemason
who built me. A monument:
all that remains of me.
A cairn: the weight of
living upon me. Stone,
not carved: cast.
This heap of me.
in want of a roof,
a lifetime in want
of a shelter;
Friday, December 4, 2009
Todays post is bigger than I wanted it to be.
There are three in jars on the sill: insects.
You'd have to hear them to know what they are.
Mute: I have captured their identity
but the fear they infect me with cannot be kept
or even held. Reduced to a pencil tap I collect
their facts, memorise their features through that
which is featureless. You can see
their difference more clearly through the safety
of a jar. They have travelled the equivalent
of miles around a glossy ellipse: each one slips
as it tries to scale the side, all those legs and not
one can get a footing. I've never liked them
and to think I came all this way to find a fear
with features I recognise only by my reaction to them.
Window ajar: I return them outside, lesson learnt,
to butt noisily against the pane (still
ignorant of my sensitivity), or silently wander.
The moth "eyes" - and I laughed at how funny it was that I had cropped off the part which scared me - see the little furry critter in the left hand corner ("LITTLE" USED HERE TO SHRINK FEAR TO MANAGEABLE PROPORTIONS).
I looked at my husband who was looking at me and I saw an expression register on his face which I felt ought to have been on mine. Especially considering the fact that my hair was still travelling towards my eye.
A flush of adrenaline had me flick my hair from my face. I felt nothing. I saw nothing. I did the thing they do in horror films when you shout "NOOOOOOOOOOoooooo"!
I peered over the edge of the bed and saw:
which one did I pick? Go on, click the link - I dare you.
I want to say that I rushed to grab my trusty bug hoover and carefully disposed of this fellow to hoover up some spiders of its own (white tails are unusual in that they only prey on other spiders - veritable gladiators of the bug world).
P.S. Sleep tight, mind the bugs don't bite! Oh, and the scale...it's all wrong, the one on my head was much bigger, about five centimeters across, bigger than my eye in any case, or in my head!
Short story newsflash - there's a competition over at the Tomlit blog if you're interested. Get your entries in quick though, deadline is December 14! Think I'm going to enter.