New year and new things to do. I was tagged by Matt Merritt to answer the following questions. The questions were devised by Sophie Mayer and the idea is that poets answer them and tag other poets to do the same. The project is called 'The Next Big Thing.' This morning I am very bleary eyed, but luckily for me I answered these questions on Sunday. Ah the joys of cut and paste! 'Tagged' poets put the questions and answers on their blog and then nominate poets for the following week. Please read on...
Where did the idea for the book come from?
I didn’t approach the book with a particular ‘idea’ or ‘concept’ in mind. It was only when I came up with the title that the book felt more cohesive. The title is ‘Melanchrini’ which is a Greek word for dark featured and dark-haired. It’s a very common nickname. I needed something which would hold the book together, even if it wasn’t an easy word for audiences. Perhaps the collection is mainly based on memoir, but with some flights of fancy. I have some friends who would like to know the facts from the fiction, but I think poems should have their own sense of truth.
What genre does your book fall in?
Poetry, unless you’re a rather harsh critic.
What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Hmmm. The main character would be played by the love child of Louise Brooks and Kathy Burke under the acting tutelage of Bette Davis. The film would probably have the Mise-en-scène of an early 60s kitchen sinker, but with modern splashes. Rita Tushingham would be wandering around in the background like a monochrome ghost. The poet Philip Larkin would make a cameo role in the ‘Larkin’ poem. The Greek actress Irini Papas would play the role of Thea; she has the face for her I think. I’d like Stephen Poliakoff to direct and Scarlett Johansen to make the tea.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
This book is about being at once modern and out of time; present and vague; a native and a foreigner and everything within these poems is underpinned by a personal sense of history.
How long did it take to write the first draft of the manuscript?
The poems were written over a span of roughly two years. I didn’t realise I was writing a manuscript, as far as I was concerned I was writing individual poems. The book was published in July 2012. I started initial drafts in the summer of 2011. However I was still writing new poems for the book alongside this. The first ‘official’ draft was completed in December 2011. There were at least 4 or 5 drafts between then and May 2012. Some poems needed tweaking, while others were completely altered. Some were consigned to the big paper basket in the sky.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
The birth of my twin daughters. When I was pregnant I suffered from Pre-eclampsia, a rather serious medical condition. I was in hospital for months and was very closely monitored. When the twins were born and we settled into a less traumatic but very busy routine I found myself being drawn back to writing, poetry in particular. I had one of those ‘life is short’ moments. I would pick up a book and read a poem in between feeds.My priorities felt very different.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
I’d like people to read these poems and feel they could relate to them. The poems are set in familiar territory, but with a surreal take on life.
Is your book self-published or represented by an agency?
Neither. I don’t think many poets are represented by agents. My book is published by Nine Arches Press. Matt and Jane had heard me read at various Open Mic events in Leicester and Nottingham and approached me with the offer of publication. I’ve been very lucky. My publishers are very supportive and given me some great opportunities for public readings.
My poets to tag are: Nottinghamshire poet and publisher Alan Baker on Litterbug. Leicestershire poet and lecturer Pam Thompson on Heckle Poet and Canal Laureate Jo Bell on The Bell Jar