I have invited fellow poet, Michael Egan to my site, to answer a few questions about his inspirations, his approach to writing & his poetry which is highly vivid, with a flare for the grotesque and finds its own place somewhere between the everyday and the absurd.
I wanted to know about his impressive debut Steak & Stations, and about his newer projects, one rather romantically involving handwritten poems….
Michael, your first full poetry collection, Steak & Stations was released in January this year, how would you describe the book?
The best way I can think of describing Steak & Stations, is that it’s a mix of The Movement’s idea of every day anecdotes coupled with a loose modernist structure. The book varies from personal narratives, distorted and written to be read at a fast pace, and more loose poems that work with interconnecting ideas, but are based in an Imagist idea of relaying the seen, of almost sifting the seen and experienced into words.
I don’t write about the big ideas or have any need to express my personal views in poetry. I like the idea of playing with language and syntax to relay images and moments.
Typically, what are your poems about? Are there any themes that you come back to?
I think, looking back at Steak & Stations there is a sense of place that I was almost unaware of when I was writing the poems. The first section and the Motivist section, deal with Liverpool and the North West, but it’s strange because I’ve always gone away from that and yet here is my first book, full of poems about place.
You’re a prolific writer, what other projects have you been working on…
I was prolific. I’ve slowed down recently in poetry terms because I’ve been working on a novel. I’ve written a grand total of two poems in the last month and I need to start writing again. I’m working on an anthology of Motivism though. I’ve invited poets I really like to write in the form and I’ve just started putting together the manuscript. There are poets as varied as Ross Sutherland, Robert Sheppard and Jon Stone involved.
I’ve also been, slowly, putting together my first issue of Envelope. Envelope is a reaction to being skint but wanting to do a magazine. It’s six poems by six poets, handwritten on the inside of an Envelope.
I’ve also recently finished a libretto for the arts agency Mercy. It’s based on the legend of Spring Heeled Jack and it’s kind of a loose, prose-poetry style play for voices. It feels good but, I’m not sure how people will take it as I’ve not done anything similar before.
As well as all that, I’ve just decided to set up my own publishing house, Holdfire Press, and I’m hoping to publish pamphlets by the best young/new UK poets.
And of course my novel is being continuously rejected by agents and publishers.
How often do you write?
My writing varies, but it’s a constant thing. If I’m writing poetry I’ll usually write more when I’m out, on a bus or train, then spend a couple of hours in the evening working on those poems.
I take a more ordered approach to fiction whereby I plot and plot and plot and write notes and write more notes then spend months writing the drafts. Something like the libretto was more organic. I sat down and just wrote for hours. I think my approach to writing is hectic but constant.
I probably write something every day.
Who are your favourite poets?
There are certain poets I come back to; Tom Raworth, Christopher Middleton, Roy Fisher, Ezra Pound, WH Auden, Ted Hughes. The poet I read the most is probably Pound.
What inspires you most?
I think reading inspires me most. I’ll read for a few hours and then I’ll want to write. People-watching and listening inspires too. I’ve far too many poems written on the back of beer mats.
Any tips for upcoming poets?
I think the best tip is to just write and read. I remember early on in my poetry, thinking I knew my style, but that style has changed because of what I’ve been reading and my exposure to the whole world of poetry; readings, new poets, blogs, magazines, etc. Also, send work out. I’ve met too many poets who never send their poems out. It can really encourage your writing to have just one poem in a magazine.
Finally, if you could arrange an evening with four guests, poets and writers past and present, who would you choose?
Hmmm. I wouldn’t pick Ezra Pound because he might try and convert me to Fascism. I think I’d choose writers that I’ve always read and thinking
now, none of them would be poets (unless I suffer Pound).
They’d be; Kingsley Amis (because of Lucky Jim), Ernest Hemingway (my favourite book is Fiesta), Michael Moorcock (I ‘ve probably read his Hawkmoon books more than any other book) and Raymond Carver (I have tried too many times to write a Carver-esque short story).
Is there anything you would like to add…
I’d like to invite any of your blog readers to submit to Holdfire. Pamphlets, 32 pages max, to firstname.lastname@example.org. I have my first 10 poets
but I’m aiming for 30 pamphlets in the first year.
Michael Egan is from Liverpool. He has had 4 pamphlets published, most recently After Stikklestad by the Knives Forks and Spoons Press.
His first full length collection, Steak & Stations is published by Penned in the Margins.
He is the editor of Envelope and founder of Holdfire Press, an exciting new platform for upcoming experimental poets.