Tuesday, 5 April 2011
An Interview with the poet himself. I give you Michael Malone!
Where Michael Malone interviews (coughs) himself ...
Q. So tell us, Mikey boy, why did you decide to go all digital on us?
A. For the craic, really. And In The Raw has now gone through four re-prints (500 copies sold – not bad for a wee poetry pamphlet) so I felt it was time to work on something new, but before I did I should give In The Raw one last wee hurrah. And everywhere I looked my writer friends were getting in on the e- act so I thought, why not?
Q. Why not indeedy. It was some time ago since many of the poems included within “In The Raw” were written, how do you feel they stack up after all these years?
A. Good question ...
Q. Thank you ...
A. And if you would stop interrupting I could answer. Anywho, were was I? Yes. Stacking up. Some of them more than others, if I’m being honest. I would venture that most creative types are never completely happy with what they’ve done and I’m no different. Some of the poems I feel stand the test of time. Others not so much. I can now see where I was trying too hard. Trying too hard to be “A Poet”: where the need to come up with an arresting phrase has affected the flow.
Q. If that’s the case, why didn’t you edit and come with a new and improved version of the book?
A. Aside from the fact that I hate editing, you mean? To be honest, I feel that ITR shows me at a place in time and from there readers can trace how I’ve grown as a writer (if I can say that without sounding too wanky). There again, all of the poems in the book were published in literary and poetry magazines so they must have something worthwhile. In some there was a line that saved them – in others the overall effect and theme of the poem was worth putting out there.
Q. Good save, Mick. Is there a theme with the book?
A. Aye. The theme is my life. Or, to be more accurate, a version of my life.
Q. What the feck does that mean?
A. Each of the poems contain a “truth”. A lot of them were auto-biographical. Some of them were observed and where the poem was better served by a “truth” other than what actually happened, I was happy to change that to improve the overall sense of the poem. You’ve heard the journalistic saying that suggests the truth should never stand in the way of a good story? Well, poetry isn’t so different.
Q. Which poems are more auto-biographical?
A. That’s for the reader to guess at.
Q. Oh, you tease. You talked there about truth – some writer friends have read your work and wondered how you could possibly be so honest in your writing. Is that difficult for you? Does it cost you sleepless nights?
A. Nah. I can’t help myself. I’m not so good at verbalising the jumble in my head and writing has for a long time provided an escape valve for all of that.
My first few forays into poetry were not so successful. That was when I was writing about other people and hadn’t quite hit on the power of the truth, so to speak. But once I did and used that in my work poetry magazines started to want to publish my work. I was at it long before I read Stephen King’s wonderful book “On Writing” where he said that you should write about your characters (for me that meant my world) as honestly as you can.
To be fair I used to worry about it. I used to worry that no-one would want to hear what I had to say. Now I believe my voice is as valid as anyone else’s. And if anyone else has a problem with what I have to say then they can kiss my hairy hole. Or not.
Q. Aye okay, draw your neck in, fella. What about your dual writing career of Poet and soon-to-be published novelist? (“Blood Tears” is available from Five Leaves Publishing , May 2012.) How does the writing process differ?
A. A novel is longer than a poem. By some way actually.
Q. Smart arse. You know what I mean. Answer the fecking question.
A. Who needs to draw their neck in now? (whispers: wanker) OK, let’s have a shot at answering this question ... I think writing one helps me when I’m writing the other. Poetry is all about noticing. And using ordinary language in an extraordinary way. In the noticing you record details that shine a light on the whole. Compare going for a walk against going for a drive. While walking the other day (with Bob and the wee fella) we saw a heron standing like a statue in the shallows of a river and we heard the insistent drumbeat of a woodpecker somewhere off in the woods. Driving past the same scene we would have had an overview of a wood warming into Spring. Writing poetry helps me notice the details that give life to a scene in a book. A l’autre main ...
Q. I wish you wouldn’t break out into French, dude. So fecking pretentious ...
A. Shut it. On the other hand – izzat better? – writing so much prose where you are focused on the flow of the sentences helps when it comes to giving my poetry a similar feel and flow, making it in my view, more readable. Also there’s so much writing done for a novel that paying attention to that many words is bound to make you a better writer. Surely?
Q. (mumbles) you’d think so. And finally. The cover. Is it you?
A. Gawd, I am so fed up answering this question. No. It isn’t me. I’d need to lose two stones and wax the pelt on my back first. Actually, I’ve a funny story about the cover ...
Q. Eeesh, enough mate. Me me me. It’s all about me. Do you ever shut up?