Saturday, November 3, 2007

12 or 20 questions: with Rupert Loydell

Rupert Loydell was born in London, and trained in creative writing and painting. He started Stride magazine and press in 1982, and has many books of poems, collaborations and prose poems in print. His paintings have been shown in solo and group shows throughout Britain, Europe and the USA. He currently lives in Cornwall with his wife and two children and lectures in English with Creative Writing at University College Falmouth.

1 - How did your first book change your life?

it didn't. I was already aware that the small press world was just a way to get work read and a networking tool.

2 - How long have you lived in Cornwall, and how does geography, if at all, impact on your writing? Does race or gender make any impact on your work?

Under two years - we moved becuase I got a lecturing job. I think the social structure of our village [I have previously only lived in cities] informs my work, as does the pleasure of living near the estuary and owning a canoe and sailing dinghy. So i've found water imagery creeping in to my work recently. Race and gender? Well, I'm sure british humour and xenophobia drifts in to my work, as does being a hetersexual white man; but not consciously, no.

3 - Where does a poem or piece of fiction usually begin for you? Are you an author of short pieces that end up combining into a larger project, or are you working on a "book" from the very beginning?

a vague theme or sense of needing to enlarge upon a number of connections or random phrases. I often work in sequences and series: a book tends to be a number of those gathereed up. I also write individual/occasional poems.

4 - Are public readings part of or counter to your creative process?

hen I am invited to give readings and have an audience who want to listen, they are very much part of a creatiuve process. But i no longer do big festivals or cabaret performances. I prefer poetry on the page.

5 - Do you have any theoretical concerns behind your writing? What kinds of questions are you trying to answer with your work? What do you even think the current questions are?

How to write in a multimedia society. Democratic anarchy, love of language, postmodern processes made approachable, spirituality, faith and doubt, the nature of poetry, how to be an author without foregrounding ego - the normal stuff really.

6 - Do you find the process of working with an outside editor difficult or essential (or both)?

I'm lucky in that i usually deal with editors [who publish my work] who say yes or no to submission. I have a network of email friends who critique and respond to poetry-in-progress; I wouldn't dream of asking for an editor to interfere with my finished work once it is finalised.

7 - After having published more than a couple of titles over the years, do you find the process of book-making harder or easier?

easier. I often plan and initiate solo and collaborative projects and sequences.

8 - When was the last time you ate a pear?

i hate pears. Probably when I was 3 or 4 years old.

9 - What is the best piece of advice you've heard (not necessarily given>to you directly)?

"Ignore advice"

10 - How easy has it been for you to move between genres (poetry to fiction)? What do you see as the appeal?

Not at all easy. I find it impossible to write sustained narrative, or even sustained prose. The longest work I have written is a fragmented prose piece called 'Headland'. I do very much like the prose poem as a form.

11 - What kind of writing routine do you tend to keep, or do you even have one? How does a typical day (for you) begin?

Get the kids breakfast and off to school. drive to work and give lectures and/or seminars. I write when i have to, so always have notebooks etc. I then get the stuff onto the compture and on paper in a working file. I spend time on drafts and revisions most days, until the work is completed - which often takes 2 or 3 months.

12 - When your writing gets stalled, where do you turn or return for (for lack of a better word) inspiration?

Music and novels, visual arts [I paint as well]. But I don't worry if I'm not writing or painting - there are enough poems in the world without forcing them out.

13 - How does your most recent book compare to your previous work? How does it feel different?

I think i have finally reached a place where I meld process with content, the domestic with large issues. I'm not self-content, but I am fairly convinced I've found the place I want to be and the way I want to write: a mixture of collage, improvisation and hard work.

14 - David W. McFadden once said that books come from books, but are there any other forms that influence your work, whether nature, music, science or visual art?

I'm very interested in contemporary classical, jazz and improvised musics, and much 20th century art, particulartly formal and free abstraction. Although I can't articulate the links, the structures and processes at work there certainly inform my writing.

15 - What other writers or writings are important for your work, or simply your life outside of your work?

I constantly return to poetry by Robert Creeley, Rachel Blau DuPlessis, John Berryman, Robert Lax and many others. Nearly all the books I've published through Stride in the last 20+ years. I consume contemporary fiction, and receive a large number of art and poetry books for review. I read a lot about contemporary music as well. I think I just enjoy seeing what can be done with language and the arts. I have found Anne Lauterbach, John Wilkinson, Tony Lopez and Marjorie Perloff particularly useful recently in the field of poetics. My immediate circle of poets for critique, dialogue and correspondence would include Peter Dent, Luke Kennard and Robert Garlitz; many of my creative writing students are helpful and useful when discussing poets and poetry, as are the Stride authors I am in touch with.

16 - What would you like to do that you haven't yet done?

Retire! Umm, I'd like some kind of selected poems. I'd like to live in New York for a few months.

17 - If you could pick any other occupation to attempt, what would it be? Or, alternately, what do you think you would have ended up doing had you not been a writer?

I probably should have become a lecturer earlier on, life and my bank balance would have been easier. I'm not sure I think of being a writer as an occupation, it's what I do (or one of the things I do), not how I earn my living. It's always been running workshops, giving talks and readings that have raised income, not the writing itself.

18 - What made you write, as opposed to doing something else?

I've written since I was a teenager, but one big point of encouragement was the college poetry group where I did my art foundation course. I suddenly realised I was okay at writing poems, that people responded and thought I was good at it.

19 - What was the last great book you read? What was the last great film?

Great book? hmmm. I think the new part of Rachel Blau DuPlessis' Drafts from salt is pretty stonking - that's a great ongoing project. Cormac McCarthy's The Road was depressing but superb. 'great' isn't really the kind of word I use about books, sorry. I don't really want a canon, even a personal one. I like discovering new authors for myself, up and coming, established, obscure or ignored. I don't get to the cinema I'm afraid (and if I do it's usually for and with the kids). I've been rewatching Twin Peaks on DVD though, nothing else comes close. Lynch and Derek Jarman for me!

20 - What are you currently working on?

I recently finished shaping An Experiment in Navigation, which Shearsman are publishing in 2008. I am working on a series of 'download poems', using phrases and titles from music i download as a starting point and reource for short poems. I'm editing an anthology of poetry and poetic manifestos for Salt, and I'm putting the finishing touches to a Creative Non Fiction unit I will be teaching at university in the spring. And I'm trying to find time to do some planning and fundraising for Stride.

1 comment:

Rupert said...

Hi Rob

Would you consider allowing me to reproduce this interview on

Its focussed on visual art but relevant because Rupert is himself in Cornwall

Thanks. I can put links to this site...