Posts Tagged ‘featured poet mcguire interviewed’

Featured Poet McGuire Interviewed.

Saturday, December 20th, 2008

You can see McGuire’s poetry here and here, and I hope you’ll also visit his blog. Here, you can learn more about his life, work, and creative processes… plus, scroll down for another of his poems.

Tell us about your poems.
What: I am a playful poet but also a dark artificer. I write about everyday life, the hundreds of characters we meet, as well as psychiatric darkness. I write informal poetry, filled with flights of fancy, keen observations, philosophy — so anything that snags on my muse or strikes out to me in curiosity or unexpected coincidence. Erratic and temperamental, what I write is ignited with an almost nervous, kinetic energy, if my poems could jump or dance or be drank down in one gulp they would.
Why do I write: because I once went into my mother’s underwear draw and discovered a letter at the bottom which revealed family secrets, real and true. This embodies to some extent need to write and my long literary obsession with secrecy and honesty. I want to write what has been left unsaid, what has been hidden from sight; I want to find private letters beneath underwear smothered in private truth.
How do I write? Dare, I say, I take notes. I write rather slapdash and sporadically. That’s how I approach most of my writing. Write first, think later. I write in bursts of nervous energy, frenzied sessions of typing and diatribe, followed (perhaps days or weeks later) by precise reform and edit. I don’t like to butcher the poem with correction. As Sir Walter Scott reminds ‘many a clever boy is flogged into a dunce and many an original composition corrected into mediocrity.’ I’m not saying I’m great or original simply that I like the unpolished feel of my poetry, down to earth, never seeking professionalism. I like my poetry like my prawns – raw.

How long have you been writing?
I’ve been scribbling for decades. The first story I wrote was in primary school, titled, ‘The Giant Bigg Bigg’, it was a short story about a Fox trying to outwit and evade capture from two large intimidating giants. After writing it, I got out the yellow pages and phoned the first publisher I came too, needless to say, when my call was answered, I was left hanging on the line in silence for quite some time. I’m still holding.

Do you have any publications to your name? What’s the next stage for your work?
I have one publication to my name and I produced it with the help of a man named John Couzin. I was bound at Clyde Side Press. John Couzin is an informative guy from Glasgow who is a self-made anarchist historian; a fountain of knowledge on political individuals and movements in Glasgow. I’m glad I met him when I discovered one of his books in Borders books.
The collection of some 90 poems and short stories was written over the last six or seven years. I call it my ‘juvenilia’ because it is quite simply that. I don’t mean to rubbish it; simply that it contains most of the poems I wrote in my formative years, before maturity, dare I concede. I mean the first thirty copies were riddled with errors (in fact, that might make a better title) but that didn’t annoy me, it seemed highly appropriate. I write about errors as well as being in error. I have much to write about, much to learn, much to live, and crystallise the word with the intention.

What do you think is your biggest poetic achievement to date?
Creating my first book ‘Important Nonsense: Scraps from a Glaswegian immaturity’; I had been threatening to do it for years. It was encouraging to finally combine my young poems into an appropriate book. It’s a modest little number. But a good start.
I also managed to get my poem ‘Pancakes’ accepted into the ‘Ranfurly Review’ next year, and I hope that comes to conclusion.
I would like to get involved in reading poetry (God forbid), even just to give it a try, it’s the next stage. I’m a slow burner. I could have jumped into reading poetry but I’ve always stayed clear of it. Partly out of cowardice, partly because I’m not ready yet, I still have to get a lot of ‘doggerel’ out of my system.

What’s the best thing about writing poetry? And the worst?
Variety! You can write about anything in a poem, you can write a poem in which ever way you see fit, approach a poem any way you like, and then sculpt from there. It’s lightness of touch as a form, its quickness. To say in a few verses or stanzas, what many say in three hundred pages. But, I’m lazy; I want to write in a way that is approachable, dishevelled, yet engaging.
I also like the confessional aspect of poetry, the confessional box, where you tell it all in various disguises and masquerading. Be shameless and startlingly honest. As well as, simply writing to record life, people, city, sky; all that madness. It’s a great thing to read all these lives opening up before you, in secret.

Got any suggestions for young, upcoming poets?
Someone said it better perhaps: ‘if you’re going to go, go all the way, if not, don’t even start’. I don’t think I’m wise enough to spout advice to anyone but I’ll try in note form: Write about what you experience. Experience what you write. Be brutally honest. Do not avoid learning craftsmanship, form. Keep taking notes. Avoid confirming your own bias, seek criticism, and do not dismiss perspectives which are in opposition to your own.

Who/what influences your poetry?
Everything can influence it, wherever the muse may take me, Amen. Privately, as I have a thing for secrets, the private hells and skeletons-in-the-closet, the human shadow. I am fascinated by the human shadow, what darkness lurks in the mind. As a Scottish poet, Thomas A. Clark once question, ‘Who has the courage to go into the dark places where there is nothing but feeling?’ Naively, I imagine, I have a certain amount of courage to face dark places.
Moving away from the psychiatric, I love to write in affirmation of life, as lofty as that sounds, in comic or absurd manner, (lending from the Dadaists or the Surrealists, dare I say, irrationalists). I love to indulge in whim, word play, mock seriousness, farce and scribble. There is a duel edge: psychiatric darkness and seriousness juxtaposed with the spirit of e.e Cummings.
The lives of all the people I encounter in Glasgow in many ways influence me; encourage me to keep on writing, about everyday life, and the chaos and absurdity in the average person.
The poets that influence me are equally important. I started off reading the War Poets. Perhaps odd beginnings really, most discover Ginsberg or Blake or Robert Burns. But, I was sucked in by Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, and a whole host of unknown war poets. I had a typical boyish fascination with war (private secret wars, whether across the globe, or at home, in the wardrobe). I dabbled in imitating the war poets when young and that’s were it all began; in war fantasy!
Years later, as I grew away from being a teenager, I was soon awoken on earth by the almost conversational poetics of (Mainly American) Bukowski, e.e. Cummings, Walt Whitman, Charles Simic, Roger McGough, Pablo Neruda to name only a few. It amazed me. It was so readable, approachable, and understandable. (And, I was never one to shun so called ‘difficult’ poetry). They wrote in a way that seemed to deal with the ‘six inches in front of your face’. And that ethos of ‘everyday poetry’ for the commonality of life has stuck with me and informed all of my writing.
What is left to say? I’m young. I’m determined. I want to put the words to use. I want to read aloud. I have a long to way to go. I’ll see you in the future.

As we see it

My brother and I used to pull down
large writing pads from the shelves
and he would draw a precise earth
and I would scribble bright colours
over the page. We were both drawing
the world in different sizes.

If YOU want to be a Featured Poet, send me an email, and include no less than three of your poems, to

(Photo by Retro traveler)

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