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Meg Peacocke Interview

Posted on 26 June 2006. © Copyright 2004-2018 WriteWords
A longer version of this interview is available to WriteWords Full and Community Members.
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WriteWords talks to poet Meg Peacocke

Tell us something about your background.

I seldom write anything but poetry. Iíve three collections from Peterloo Poets: Marginal Land, 1988, which is out of print, Selves, 1995, and Speaking of the Dead, 2002 reprinted a couple of times. At present Iím working on a ďnew and selectedĒ and slowly putting together poems which I hope will be accessible to young people but still be real poems.

Iíve done a good deal of tutoring; I enjoy giving readings and running workshops; at the moment Iím judging a couple of poetry competitions. I wish I had two heads, though, one for the public things and one for my own writing, because the processes are so different and the first often gets in the way of the second.

How did you start writing?

I started when I was very young Ė four or five Ė and my father encouraged me; but he knew nothing about modern writing: I only began to find out something about that in my teens, looking in bookshops. I had a good apprenticeship in rhyming and metrical writing, which I donít regret, though I wish Iíd had other models. I think I wanted to write because I loved rhythm. I loved to sing, and it seemed the same kind of activity.


Who are your favourite writers and why?

It varies. I have read some poems, and some poets, over and over again, and then not looked at them again for years. Among the poets: George Herbert, Herrick, Milton, Tennyson, Yeats, Zbigniev Herbert, Rilke (these last in assorted translations), Edward Thomas. I read the Bible a lot, and collections of myths and fairy tales. Recently Iíve been reading mostly American poetry:
Elizabeth Bishop, Wallace Stevens, C.K.Williams, A.R.Ammons, Lisel Mueller.
Difficult to say why I make the choices that I make at any one time: itís as though I lacked a trace element and was looking for it there. By my bed at the moment: Don Paterson and a translation of Rumi.


How did you get your publisher?

I won a few decent prizes. On the strength of that, I wrote to Harry Chambers at Peterloo Poets because I liked the way he produced things and he didnít seem averse to publishing middle-aged poets. He told me to send a full manuscript when I had one.

What's the worst thing about writing?

The superstitious fear that overcomes me, when Iíve finished a poem, that I may never make another. I donít believe it, but I still canít stop the fear kicking in.

And the best?

The absolute involvement in the writing process once a poem has got underway.

Tell us what kind of responses you get from audiences\ readers.

There seems to be a small but quite convinced kind of readership to whom my work speaks, and I am grateful to them, but I donít believe they influence me. Thereís always this paradox about needing an audience but writing for oneself.

What was your breakthrough moment?


I donít think thereís been a breakthrough moment in the writing, but now and then Iíve made changes in my life which have brought me nearer to an understanding of the way I need to write.



A longer version of this interview is available to WriteWords Full and Community Members.
Click here to learn more about becoming a member.






Comments by other Members



EmmaD at 20:41 on 02 July 2006  Report this post
that kind of steady physical activity, which seems to override the busy part of my brain.


Dorothea Brande in Becoming a Writer talks about the value of physical, rhythmical, non-verbal work for a writer, and it's so true.

Iíd hate to have a writing job!

I think more writers should recognise that the best thing for their writing may not be earning a living from it, but feeding it from a life spent otherwise.

Came to this late, but it's a wonderful interview. Thank you.

Emma


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