Continuing my repostings of interviews for January, here's Dave Lordan who recently edited the anthology New Planet Cabaret published by New Island.
I have to warn you now that there are bad words in the following interview. So if you are of a nervous disposition or know you are easily offended, please stop reading now.
Still with me? Well, you have been warned.
But frankly, the bad words are not used in bad way, in my honest opinion. To be specific, cunt is used as a reported word of another writer who was, in turn, reporting the word and was actually talking, I'm told, about pudenda. And nigger was used as reported speech in a terrific, well known poem published in an award-winning collection.
There is also a drug reference (maybe more. I'm not very savvy and lots go right over my head.) I've heard and read the poem before and thought it was about cars. And his poems are not all to everyone's tastes, but whose are? The interview is challenging, arresting and well worth a read.
I don't know who the interviewer is but the questions are spot on. So without further delay, may I introduce you to the wonderful, the mad, bad and dangerous to drink coffee with, poet Dave Lordan.
1. How did your readings go at the Dun Laoghaire Festival - what were you most pleased with?
They went well. As I recite by heart, rather than read, it's a little bit more of an effort and a bit more nervewracking to go before an audience then if you've got a book to prop you up. I didn't drop a line and paced and pitched things well. I got good feedback too, compliments from unexpected quarters etc.
Though I felt, as did many of the other readers, that I was at the bottom of well, or a coal mine, staring out at total black because of the absurd set up with the lights in the Pavillion. It felt a little like I was all alone up there (Don Paterson was worried that when the lights went on it would reveal a theatre full of Orcs) but, you know, that lonesomeness suits the theme and tenor of some of my work. I'm not necessarily seeking a connection all the time. Sometimes it's good to feel the distance between yourself and other people.
When you’re invited to read at a festival, how do you prepare? Do you approach each festival the same?
Every festival is different. I think about what kind of audience is going to be there and what I would like to say to them and how I would like to treat (and be treated by) that particular audience. I prepare by rehearsing the pieces I have chosen to read, though I always leave the door open to surprise and spontaneity too, if the occasion produces it.
What value do you think literary festivals offer writers and readers?
I think they offer us the chance to discover things about each other that we otherwise would not. Proximity means, as it does in other situations, that prejudices we might hold about each other are stripped way.
What was your Dun Laoghaire festival highlight?
There were several highlights.
Anne Carson's esoteric yet mesmeric lecture on the untranslatable in all of us which featured Bacon, Joan of Arc, Velazquez and Celan. Heather McHugh's poems about cunts and ornithological glossaries, Don Paterson's discourse on the poetics of Battlestar Galactica, Borbalo Farago reading Anne Hartigan's poem On Letting Go, the Yeatsian electioneering of David Norris, Nuala Ni Dhomhaill's Merfolkery, Belinda Mckeon reading Heaney's astounding poem Had I not been awake...
On the other hand there was some dreadfully pretentious claptrap spouted too, a lot of of sub-Cage carry on about silence and silences and the 'white spaces' on the page, as if some sort of great aesthetic or philosophical breakthrough was being made when, as Ni Dhomhaill once said about virtual reality, the dogs down in Kerry know all about it. Even if it makes me unsophisticated I'd still like to think that poetry is far more to do with breaking silences, and with the substance of words, rather than with blankness and non-expression. It's obvious to me that contemporary writers who go on about silence and white spaces are really telling us- from a space of great privilege normally- that they have, in fact, nothing to say and no need to say it. I'd say that if David McSavage and John Colleary were there they got some good material for The Savage Eye.
Do you have a poem you would like to share with us?
Ode on winning of de Entente Florale
For Joseph Lordan
Told ye so. Told ye we could win it
‘Spite de filth o' de likes o' ye
With yere baseball caps and yere baggy pants
Yere ghetto blasters and yere nigger music
Yere flagons and yere Mitsoobeachies*
And de trainee hoors hanging offa ye.
Rollin in muck ye are, de flays ating ye.
Manged an’ stinkin like tinkers’ mares
like yere faaders and mudders before ye
but I’d say yere not too sure who bore ye
Shir who pished you out Twishty? De milkman?
De coalman? One o' Fossetts’ weepin clowns?
This here’s ‘come a champion little town
All down to good people like me.
We’ve patched every crack with vines ,
Blossoms cover every stain. Tis like paradise,
‘ceptin ye, ye shnakes, ye divils, ye dirty filthy
feckin animals. Ye give us all a bad name.
*Mitsubishis are a brand of E