Archive for the ‘Featured Interviews’ Category

“I’m not Welsh but I have a longing for and a protectiveness towards Wales…”: Fiona Sampson

Fiona Sampson: credit Ekaterina Voskresenskaya

Fiona Sampson interviewed by Interlitq: read the entire interview:

Interlitq: Could you tell us more about the time you spent in Wales. How strongly do you identify yourself with Wales and Welshness? Do you rate Dylan Thomas highly?

FS: I’m not Welsh but I have a longing for and a protectiveness towards Wales, and a continuing strong interest in Welsh arts culture. When I returned to Wales straight after finishing at Oxford, I set up an annual international poetry festival in Aberystwyth. Because the poetic traditions in Wales are long and deep-seated. I’ve talked about this elsewhere so won’t repeat myself.

It’s unfashionable to rate Dylan Thomas in British poetry right now but – ever the unfashionable – I owe my love of poetry to him. When I was in that village school in Wales, and when I was only six years old, our wonderful headmaster read us the beginning of Under Milk Wood in school assembly. It was way over our heads. I understood nothing – except that I thought it was amazing. Soon after that I started writing my own little poems in school. And apart from my teens when that English teacher knocked it out of me for about a decade, I just didn’t stop.

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“Abuse of women and children is a worldwide problem and in certain societies is extreme”: Pascale Petit

Pascale Petit. Photo credit: Derek Adams

Pascale Petit interviewed by Interlitq: read the entire interview.

 

Interlitq: How central are themes of violence and gender issues to your work? Also tell us more about your preoccupation with the environment.

PP: I’d say these concerns are central. I hope that readers don’t just read my poems as personal and autobiographical, I would hope they reach beyond the ‘confessional’. Abuse of women and children is a worldwide problem and in certain societies is extreme.

My environmental concerns must originate from my childhood I think, when I lived with my grandmother in mid-Wales, and she had what seemed to me to be a huge garden. I worked in the garden for my keep, and loved it. Later, I spent summer holidays camping with my mother in an overgrown terraced vineyard she had bought in the south of France, and that place must have been my second childhood ‘Amazon’. Both places planted a deep love of nature and a feeling that the natural world in its wild state is an ally, a place of retreat and consolation. Gran had a lot of animals, and after my unhappy infancy in Paris, they must have made a deep impression: I adored them and bonded with them. As I grow older it horrifies me that many species are now endangered.

“A non-British identity is at the core of my work…”: Pascale Petit

Pascale Petit

Pascale Petit interviewed by Interlitq: read the entire interview.

Interlitq: You were born in France and spend long periods of time in Paris. Is a French identity at the core of your work?

PP: A non-British identity is at the core of my work, but I’m not sure it’s a French one, even though I am French and was born in Paris, and don’t have British nationality. My heritage is complicated and misty! On my mother’s side there’s my Welsh/Asian grandmother, who brought me up, though her part Welsh heritage was originally from Ireland. She was half Pakistani and there’s been a lot of secrecy about that. On my father’s side, I think the roots are all French, though my Gran did tell me he was part Algerian, but I don’t think that was true. He did live in Algeria, in the Kabylie Mountains, though, for part of his disappearance, and had close Algerian friends. When I go to France I’m perceived as English because I speak French with an English accent, so I’m an outsider in my own country! This mixture of confused identities may be one of the reasons that I write about ‘elsewhere’ in my poems – there is a search for home and a feeling of being an outsider.

“Brexit is a catastrophe”: Fiona Sampson

Fiona Sampson: credit Ekaterina Voskresenskaya

In a Featured Interview published in Interlitq, Fiona Sampson states with regard to Brexit:

“Brexit is a catastrophe. In the summer I devoted a double issue of Poem, the magazine I edit now, to women on Brexit; of course, it elicited some wonderful writing. British literature suffers from our typically Anglophone cultural isolationism anyway; it also suffers from sharing a language with the giant US, a literary culture which doesn’t respect our own yet is only too happy to come over and snaffle our national literary prizes. The future on our tiny overcrowded and under-resourced rock in the North Atlantic is very depressing indeed. I would desperately like to get a European passport.”

 

 

Fiona Sampson thinks Muriel Spark was “very badly treated by the Poetry Society and by other male amateur poetasters…”

Fiona Sampson: credit Ekaterina Voskresenskaya

In a Featured Interview published in Interlitq, Fiona Sampson states of Muriel Spark:

“I think she was well-named! Sparky in both the intellectual sense and in the sense of having evident personal charisma and courage. For me she’s a real role model and, again, a writer with a whole body of work, much of which has become canonical (as in my own passing reference to The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, just for example). I think that Spark was very badly treated by the Poetry Society and by other male amateur poetasters she tangled with… and that their impulses, their arrogance, their assumptions that a woman writer is always “a woman of no importance” – that the phrase is a tautology – are still absolutely familiar today. Even though we no longer wear Fifties fashion, little else has changed. Also, I think that not only does talent get resented, but that the worst resenters are the untalented. A good male (or female) writer doesn’t need to waste time trying to undermine some passing woman – he has his (she has her) own work to get on with…”