An Interview with Six Young Poets by Roddy Lumsden
Roddy Lumsden writes: I didn't intend to focus on young poets in this issue until fine poems started to appear from so many young writers- ten poets in Magma 40 are 21 or under. So it seemed natural to give some of them a space to talk. 1 asked six of them to suggest questions for each other. Five poets here are featured in Magma (see their poems for biographical details). The sixth, Jay Bernard, has recently published her first pamphlet, Your Sign is Cuckoo, Girl (tall-lighthouse) and is studying at Sussex University.
What are your ambitions for your writing? What do you aim for in a poem?
Richard O'Brien: To be published, read, and liked. In an ideal world I'd like my hypothetical poetry collections to be accessible enough for people who usually claim to hate poetry, despite enjoying other kinds of reading, to convince them to give it a go.
Martha Sprackland: I have been writing for so long and in such an intensive way that I never allowed for the possibility of a 'back-up' career, which I think can be one of the risks involved in being a 'young poet'. From a young age I have been so intensely passionate about writing that I have never entertained the notion that there might be other things I could enjoy and excel at.
Ahren Warner: For me, a poem must be constantly getting away from its own constitution as words, forcing itself to be read differently than people read the papers, being a middle finger to that question - 'what
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does it mean?' as well as being intrinsically caught up in it. In terms of how writing will feature in my life, I'm not expecting anything but then l 'm not planning for a 'proper job'.
Dai George: I want to write good poetry which avoids cliche. The expectation these days seems to be that poetry should be written from and to a niche; that poets are vocationally destined to be read by a small audience. l 'm resistant to that, and a lot of my professional ambitions could probably be construed as being unrealistic and/or immodest.
Do you see any defining characteristics of the poetry of your generation emerging?
Eloise Stonborough: The poetry of our generation is desperately trying to respond and engage with a society that increasingly marginalises (what it sees as) elitist art. The 'Big Brother' generation is not one that understands or even cares particularly for poetry and many young poets are trying to find a place for themselves within these cultural norms.
Jay Bernard: No politics - and by that I mean no definite stand. Dry wit, surrealism, irony, the fantastic.
Martha: I notice a conscious effort to avoid stale ideas and to live up to the stereotypes of youth, of being different, radical, non-conformist. This pushes poetry out of the reach of traditional imagery and more into an almost synaesthetic world of fresh, multicoloured metaphor and illustrative psychedelia. This adventurous linguistic eccentricity and skewed