Not questioning is a problem. I hope I use poetry as an enquiry, or perhaps an interrogation, of philosophy, theology and language.
Sometimes you write poems that are about yourself, your friends, your family which could be read as memoir. Do you think it’s more difficult for women to do this and remain, to the reader, detached as men can? I use characterisation in my poems, partly to avoid this, and so that any details appropriated from my own life are allowed to exist outside of the context me.
So for example, we both talk about faith (or lack/doubt) in our poetry. Do you find that you are asked personal questions about religion?
And, while we’re adopting this serious tone, what’s your favourite pick ’n mix sweet? Mine’s fizzy-cola bottles with their light and dark theology and fearsome sugary tang of doubt.
I don't know if I have ever done pick'n'mix! I used to like Kola Cubes when I was a kid. And white chocolate mice. Those sherbet flying saucer things too, with cardboard shells that stuck to the top of your mouth.
I was talking – well emailing – Clark Allison earlier about this whole idea of us being present in our poems. He quite rightly said we can only write about what we experience, but I was adamant that I want my poems to move away from confession. They obviously are about things that interest or concern me, but it doesn't mean the narrators are me, or that everything said in the poem is me speaking, or that what happens in them happened to me.
I have no idea if it's more difficult for women to be as detached. I don't see why it should be, and there are plenty of experimental women writers who choose not to write autobiographically or confessionally. It's also quite clear that even the likes of Lowell and Plath construct their own poetic personas. Everything is mediated!
So yes, characterisation, disruptive syntax, parataxis, jump cuts, collage, multiple voices etc are all useful tools to disabuse readers that it's me opening my heart up.
I do sometimes get asked about the content of my poems, yes. It's sometimes interesting to talk about the sources of ideas, but it depends who is asking. Despite our 'postmodernist loss of metanarratives' it's amazing how many universal ideas and stories do still exist, and the idea of the spiritual (or religious) is definitely one of them.
I think you’re ignoring the epiphanic nature of the pick‘n’mix counter.
© Sarah Cave & Rupert Loydell 2017
YES RUPERT, STOP IGNORING THE EPIPHANIC NATURE OF THE PICK'N'MIX COUNTER. - GT.