Thanks to Bridget Khursheed at PoetandGeek for inviting me to take part in this. Since last summer I’ve been watching the blog tour wind its way round the weird and wonderful poetry places I frequent, and now, it’s my turn. Here goes!
1) What am I working on?
I’ve a couple of projects under way just now. I’m working on my second collection, The Territory of Rain, which will come out late next year. It’s a little like Wherever We Live Now, in that there’s a lot of birds, weather, rivers and trees in it, but it’s taking a rather different tack, as I’ve got into thinking some more about our ways of knowing, thinking and talking about the earth, and how the earth shapes our thinking about ourselves and our way of life.
I’m also putting together material for something called (at the moment) Half a Hundred Herbs, which is beginning to take shape on this blog. It isn’t going to be a herbal, or herbal reminiscences, or lyrics about herbs. There will be some poems, but also some reflections about the way we use herbs as symbols and archetypes in areas like medicine, learning, feminism, spirituality and politics.
2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
My poetry has developed in fits and starts, and it shows. I did my first degree in the days when it wasn’t considered necessary to study contemporary literature, so the most recent poetry I did was Keats, and what I liked best was the metaphysical poets. To make it worse I went in for Old English, Old Norse and Medieval literature, and didn’t read much modern stuff until I discovered Kenneth White in the nineties. I think his work sounds a little dated now, but it introduced me to the Imagists and to haiku, and showed me that poetry didn’t have to be lush and emotional. Then I mixed in my years as a folk singer learning the ballad tradition. It makes for rather spare, philosophical and compressed rather than lyrical poetry.
3) Why do I write what I do?
My brain seems to be wired for short bursts of concentrated attention, and poetry suits that very well. I write about what I notice, what I like, what moves or disturbs me. I’m not sure I write anything more than ‘Wow, look at that!’, and I try to find the way I can best make it palpable and interesting to other people.
4) How does your writing process work?
A poem makes a shape on a page, or a line and a half that makes me sit up and take notice.And then, over the next days, weeks, even years sometimes, I look at them and wonder what they are for, and where I was trying to go with them, letting them take their final form. Sometimes it’s an inadvertent phrase from a journal, or a mental note of something I’m trying to remember. Because I have significant caring responsibilities for family members I can’t plan too much, or corral dedicated chunks of time for writing, so it’s a bit like hunter-gathering just now – random forays into language, bringing back scraps and seeing what I can do with them.
And the next stop is: Emma Wilkinson’s blog.
Emily Wilkinson is an artist-maker and wordsmith who creates using mixed-media, textiles and words. Her work is concerned with place, environment, emotion, journeys and transformation. Through emphasising sense of touch she explores the poetic relationship between materiality and language. After studying at Bridge House Art in Scotland, Emily has exhibited in Ullapool, on the Isle of Mull and has had work published in Earthlines magazine.
Now, according to the terms of this tour, you are supposed to invite three people to follow you, and this hasn’t been easy! For one thing most of the people I follow have done it already, and secondly, one person I’d love to have you visit is in Tanzania. But her blog is live, and full of fascinating poetry so please go to
Cora Greenhill’s blog http://coratanzaniania.blogspot.co.uk.
And then Roselle Angwin’s blog Qualia and other wildlife, at roselle-angwin.blogspot.co.uk