Ottawa Poetry interview . . .

More has been added to an extensive interview with Bruno Neiva and I by Chris Turnbull over at Ottawa Poetry.

Here’s an excerpt;

Q: How has living in other regions physically affected your writing? What choices have you made, writing wise, as an effect of moving/displacement/returns? Did you move while working on Servant Drone? Do you, looking back, see a shift of some sort in your writing/collaboration?

B: I didn’t move as many times as Paul. So far, I lived in the North and Centre of Portugal, Switzerland and in the North of Spain. I’m back to Portugal now, after quite some years away. Servant Drone was written when I was still living in Spain. I used to give in-company Business English classes during that period and it gave me a lot of material to work on. It’s true that every time I move home I instantly start working on new stuff. Maybe it’s the effect of new surroundings, I can’t really tell. And then there’s the memory I retain of the places I’ve been and the people I’ve met, which is sometimes presented in my work, especially in my poems, in a rather direct fashion. Memory’s a valuable tool indeed.

P: I’ve moved on average every 11 months to date, sometimes through choice, other times through having no choice; where political, economic or personal situations have dictated me packing a bag. I’ve lived the life of, at times, an itinerant traveller, mainly in the south of the UK and the south of Spain, and to a lesser degree in France and the USA. Looking back there has been nothing remotely romantic about this state of affairs; it’s been painful, exciting, depressing and baffling. I am in no doubt that it has influenced my writing; certainly in my two books, Claremont Road and in Contumacy, as well as in diaries, journals and in other creative non-fiction, as well as in Place Waste Dissent and Servant Drone. I’ve been obsessively compelled to write in order to try and make (non)sense of the twenty-first century world I/we inhabit. One of my earliest memories is falling asleep whilst studying a large map of London that was selotaped on the bedroom wall around the age of nine; the contour lines, road markings, train stations, place names, rivers etc. etc. filled my imagination and dreams, and place has personally always been the site where many frameworks of interrogation/imagination have been constructed; be they linked to memories of friends, family, events, or of politics, relationships, experience, to the huge opening up of the planet that the internet has brought about etc. A psychological/geographical terrain retains its lineage, its echo and resonance long after the lived experiences in real-time have taken place. Areas in east London I learn’t from the bedside map, travelling through them en route to other places, then squatting and living in them, and of course what photos/films/media/music I watch, listen to, read, the personal memories exist often by what is absent, what is written out of the grand narrative, of the (his) story of newspapers, journals, documentaries, books, of walks, of politics. The culturally contested sites. When I physically inhabit these places (Leyton, Leytonstone, Hackney); walk or cycle, travel by bus, train or car, the accompanying rush, or drip-drip of conscious/subconscious psycho-geography begins to leak through into my writing. This has directly influenced the multiple perspectives that are often transgressing, crossing-over, confronting each other in my work. For example;

#24 (hawkins)
Shooting Location: Airport Lounge (or privately-funded hospital foyer)
Director(s): Donna Bale
Actor(s); Charlie Uncle, Kid Tango, Dog
Editor(s): Sal Barchmann, Roger Lazerbee
Login: TTYI4545@nasr ____
Dog’s gotta booklet. Scoop salmon from the tin onto sideplated white bread. Masticate. Gums, roof of mouth, teeth popping fish spine beads. Clench-ripple throat muscles, squeeze the paste past turnstile of tonsils. Dog’s gotta bowl. Passively smoke: the sun shines tuneless blue air. I stopped, listened, repaired the cistern. Dog’s gotta boss. The washing machine? It’s full of rust. Dog’s gotta boundary.

Whilst working on Servant Drone I moved from Bournemouth to live in Bristol with my partner Sarer. On a very basic level the unfamiliarity of a new city, and a lack of personal connections there fed directly into the collaboration. A sense of movement, alienation, lack of familiarity, a physical and psychological disruption, the uncertainties, the love and joy of a new phase in a relationship, the endless possibilities seemingly squeezed in the vice of a tired, corrupt and biased political system . . .  that said, I’m not too sure specifically what shift occurred. We completed the sixty poems in Servant Drone not long afterwards and then moved onto the process of manuscript editing, which, for me, was thankfully a short and sweet experience.

Read more here