— a poetry interview series by Christine Klocek-Lim
1. What is your favorite poem that you’ve written? Read?
One of my all-time favourite poems is Tennyson’s Ulysses. It was an anthem for me when I was growing up. At the moment, of my own poems, the one that seems least flawed to me is The Last Generation from The Clarity of Distance.
2. Do you write for yourself or for an audience/reader?
I write for myself as an audience, as though I were reading someone else’s work.
3. How much of what you write is inspiration vs. perspiration?
It’s very hard to say. Possibly equal amounts. And sometimes it’s the inspiration that comes first, sometimes it’s a lot of perspiration.
4. If you were a Celtic bard, carrying poems from place to place as if they were the last flame, which ones would you sing?
Emily Dickinson’s I taste a liquor never brewed
Ranjit Hoskote’s The surveyor’s complaint
Thomas Hardy’s The Voice
Jo Shapcott’s Thetis
Kamala Das’ The Dance of the Eunuchs
5. Why do you read or write poetry?
It’s how I make sense of the world. It’s like art and music and philosophy all rolled into one. I read it for the sounds and images and because it surprises me. Because I can and do memorize it and then I carry it around like photographs.
6. How has the way you write changed (or not changed) over time?
I’ve learned to trust myself more as I’ve developed my own voice. It’s like swimming, you let go of the floats as you gain confidence.