Thursday, 5 June 2014

Migration, Patterns and Pushlines

three questions from Matt Bryden

What am I writing about?

I have several preoccupations at the moment; chief among them are dislocation and displacement. It seems to me that one of the overriding images of the 20th century, and indeed our own, is the forced migration of millions of people. I have become acutely aware of Stalin’s labour camps in recent months, for example. There are so many people living in intolerable situations at the moment. It’s a never-ending story. I have recently been researching what happened to a great-uncle of mine who was deported and detained as an alien. I am also interested in how migration changes a person, how it affects identity and how one clings to what is familiar. Travel, in one form or another, has always featured in my work, and so has the sea, in particular the Atlantic, which divides the two halves of my family. There’s an east-west theme running through my writing.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I think perhaps I am more willing than most to make a political point sometimes. This doesn't go far enough for some people. Equally, it might go too far for others. I like patterning too, though I will never sacrifice the poem’s intention or substance for a line ending. Every word has to earn its place. I have been told that I write in a ‘free verse, American influenced way’ which I find odd, because I often use slant rhyme couplets and terza rima patterns.

How does my writing process work?

Like an iceberg. Most of it is submerged. The bit you see is me at my desk at 6 am tapping away between mouthfuls of tea. That doesn't last nearly long enough. I usually have at least two other paid jobs to do. However, I'm always writing in the sense that I'm observing and making notes and listening for nuances. I'm always chewing over something. I work best in complete stillness and that’s very hard to achieve when you’re scrabbling around trying to earn a living and there are domestic distractions to deal with. Left entirely to my own devices – ie. when I've booked a week somewhere remote without a phone signal – I rise early and work through till 1 or 2 pm. Poems go through many drafts. Some take weeks to complete, others may take months, a year even. Some end up being completely unpicked and only a line or two salvaged for another time. I speak the poems, too. I test them in my mouth and my ear as well as weigh them on the page. Often writing is like being a plane on a runway. Taxiing can take all morning and arrival at the push line for take-off can happen suddenly, even unexpectedly. Some days the plane just taxis. I see I've mixed my metaphors in answering this question!

To see what Matt said, click here:

Be sure to follow the links to his website and explore the range of his work!

And finally, a reminder of the Pity of War poetry reading on Thursday 6th June at Albion Beatnik Bookstore.

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