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Poetically Productive

Poetically Productive

sorry for the silence of the last couple of weeks. Work on my dissertation has been taking precedence. I’ve been working on my poetic monologue and have been reading other poetic monologues, monologue plays, and short and long stories told in verse. Since my protagonist works in the world of advertising, I’ve also been reading poems and novels from that world too. This research will prove handy when I write the 2,000-word reflective essay that needs to accompany my 6,000–8,000 words of poetry.

Hot Off the Press

On the first day of my two-week placement with Seren, I was asked to read Erato, the new poetry collection by Deryn Rees-Jones.

Named after the Greek muse of lyric poetry, Erato combines documentary-style prose narratives with the passionate lyric poetry for which Rees-Jones is renowned. Here, however, as she experiments with form, particularly the sonnet, Rees-Jones asks questions about the value of the poet and poetry itself. What is the difference, she asks in one poem, between a sigh and a song?
(from the Seren website)

That sounds like a cushy number, doesn’t it! Sit down at your desk, read a book of poetry and then go home and get paid for it! well, there was slightly more to it than that! I was asked to draft some questions for Deryn to answer on the Seren blog once Erato had been published. I was a bit bewildered by this task. Similar blog posts relating to collections by other poets, such as one with Jonathan Edwards on 1 January 2019, which followed the publication of his new collection, Jenn, showed that knowing Jonathan’s previous collection, the Costa Prize-winning My Family and Other Superheroes informed the questions asked in the interview for Jenn. How should I approach interviewing Deryn without having read her previous four collections?

I drew on my previous experience of interviewing musicians and bands for two years on the magazine Splinter, which I co-founded, and another two years doing so for Atlanta Music Guide when I lived in Atlanta. It’s been thirteen years since Splinter and eight since Atlanta Music Guide so I worried I might be a bit rusty! I didn’t get any feedback on my draft questions so figured Seren would salvage whatever they could and probably write most of it themselves. I wasn’t really expecting to hear anything more.

I subscribe to the Seren email newsletter and noticed a link this week to Erato, an Interview with Deryn Rees-Jones and my heart hop, skip and jumped! Should I prepare to sigh or sing?

The interview posted on the Seren blog is my exact interview! There are a couple of minor edits when I’d used I and it had been changed to we, which is a perfect example of my rustiness, and the penultimate question wasn’t one of mine but, other than that, the interview is exactly as I wrote it on Monday 20th May.

I’m really grateful to Mick Felton and the small team at Seren for making me so welcome. Mick acted as sighted guide between my Air BnB place to the Seren office each morning and back again in the evening, and made sure other Seren staff could do that if he was out of the office. It was very important for me to find out how easy I’d find it to work on an office computer using my screen reading software which, at Seren, included listening to the books I was required to read, typing my interview questions and copy editing a creative non-fiction book and the current issue of Poetry Wales. The experience was most definitely positive and, on that basis, I’ve applied for a job in Swansea and hope to be offered an interview during the last two weeks of July ... more on that once I know if I am offered an interview :)

#Poetry #Interviews #Work #Seren #DerynReesJones #JonathanEdwards @SerenBooks @DerynRJ

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  1. Frances Browner Frances Browner

    Great interview Giles, you really brought out a sense of the person and her poems. Really enjoyed it. Will now have to have a look at her poems, especially the tragic love between the 7th-century Irish poets. What a varied and exciting life you’re leading now. All kinds of good things happen when we return to College at a later age.

  2. Susan Susan

    What a wonderful experience Seren was for you, and so informative. It seems that you would have much to offer an employer. Best of luck getting the interview, and best of luck when it happens.

  3. Giles Giles

    thanks Frances and Susan! working at Seren was a great experience … as with everything, I you get out of it as much as you put into it. I hope the other four people get as much out of it as I did 🙂

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