In this episode, we begin by looking at the most recent issues of cnsorshipmagazine and cpquarterly. We then review Nikki Dudley's Volta.
We then chat to the wonderful Shontay Luna and also the fantastic Stuart McPherson.
We then round off with our newsblast.
Hello, and welcome back to another Full House podcast episode. We've got some fantastic guests this week. So let's dive straight in. So before we dive into our guests, let's start off by looking at the community and some fantastic work that has recently been released into the world. So we're going to begin by looking at censorship magazine. So censorship magazine is a literary magazine all about censorship, clues in the name, that's what it says in their bio. And they take inspiration from the little magazines from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, they welcome poetry, prose, visual art, and as experimental as they come. So they've got some really cool stuff. And we thought we'd check out their most recent and first issue. This issue is called the Savoy issue and it's their first issue. And it features some fantastic writers it's a quite a big issue 60 pages which is which is great to you know, look through. And we're going to highlight some of our absolute favorite stand out pieces from censorship issue one. So as well as some fantastic art pieces such as from Hat Leith and Elizabeth Cowling, which are gorgeous, gorgeous pieces. We also really liked the piece, 'the title of this poem has been redacted' by Andre F. Peltier. And this is so cool. So it begins 'For the safety and security of the reading public, the title of this poem has been redacted names have been redacted to protect no one in particular.' And then it goes on and there are certain lines that have been strike through and crossed out. And it's a really interesting piece. I really like titles like this and the way that opening is so strong, it really pulls me in. And I really enjoyed reading this piece, it's definitely fits well with the censorship theme, I can definitely see why it was chosen. And I just really like the language present in this piece. So a line I particularly enjoyed was 'placing bell-bottomed spies at the lunch counters. And the title of this poem is redacted' and that's in brackets. I think it's a really clever piece. I really like the technical elements of it. And I just think it's really cool to check out and it you know, vibes so well what the issue is trying to do. So I highly recommend checking this piece out, I really enjoyed reading it.
Another piece I really enjoyed was 'red flag' by HLR. And this is quite a small piece, it's not particularly long, but it's so cool. And there's some really great lines, I really like the tone that comes through. For example, 'I've never seen a spider web so complicated, so stylish', I really like they way that it is written, and there's loads of cool elements to this piece. I really like the last segment as well. 'I have a new spider now called Regan; she's busy building The Ritz and you are not allowed in my house ever again.' I think there's a lot of different elements of this piece. And the more I go back and reread it, something else jumps out at me and I feel like it's like this intricate puzzle piece and then every time I read it, another piece of the puzzle sort of comes alive. It's a great piece I really enjoyed reading it. I like the language, for example 'nimbly dancing down hallways made of silver thread, or simply dozing in her floss-like hammock, content in her self-made luxury setting' is a really fantastic piece. I really like the sort of focus on like the webs and that sort of like spider imagery coming across. I just think it's really really interesting piece. I've not read anything like this before. And I just think it's absolutely gorgeous. I love it. I think there's so many interesting qualities and I could definitely see myself you know, reading this many many more times. So I highly recommend you have a flip through of this one when you look through this gorgeous issue.
I also really liked 'audacious tables' by Jem Henderson. This is a great piece it's separated into like these different categories and I love the different ways that this can be read so like you could read 'argument God' or 'argument light' or 'conversation fish', like it's really interesting how you can like read the different segments and like match them up. There's some absolutely amazing language in here. So for example, 'even atheism is an irrelevance'. And it's fantastic. There are like these gorgeous little lines and I like, I so like the experimental like qualities that come out and I like the sort of nonsensical sort of phrases that work so well. And they're not nonsensical at all like within the context of this piece. It's exactly my sort of piece. I love it. This is definitely a piece that yeh I'd stick on my wall and love to read every single day is fantastic. I absolutely love it. I think every time I read this piece, something else will stick out at you. I feel like you could spend ages just, this is an experience piece you know that you don't just, you know, read and move on, you can like relook at this piece and you really have to, or you really can, you know engage with it. And it really like gives you the challenge and the opportunity to really dig a bit deeper and spend a bit more time with this piece. So I really enjoyed it.
I really like the artwork piece 'dancer' by Joe Fear. It's gorgeous when you zoom in on it, and there's so many different details. It's so intricate, like the flowers and the line work. It just it's an amazing piece, it really stands out and fits in beautifully in the issue. Every time I like look at it, I'm like, ah, there's another little detail that I focus in on and zoom in and get to appreciate. So, I mean, as it is, it's fantastic, like overall it makes such a good impact, but the beauty is that you can then obviously zoom in and look at gorgeous, specific little details that intrigue you. And yeah, when when you flick through, my eyes definitely like land on this piece. And I'm like, wow, that's gorgeous. So that's a really lovely one that I recommend you have a look at.
Another piece I really liked was 'Be Positive' by Janaya Fuller-Evans. And this is so cool. I really like the way this piece is written. And the form that it uses, like lots of different like brackets. And it's mainly lots of short sentences with lots of full stops. And I really enjoy that style of writing. I think it's really effective, especially within this piece. And it's kind of like stream of consciousness. But it's been so cool, like so interestingly, so I really enjoyed was, 'I am filled with the opulence of a thousand suns. I have all the wealth I need inside
of me. I am special. My bank account is full. I am not hungry.
No nots. Just ams.' And like it flows so well. It's so cool to read it. And as I say it's broken up sometimes with these phrases that are in brackets. This is such a fantastic piece. So one of the bracket phrases I really like is, '(I’m 57 years old. There are limitations)'. It's brilliant. I love this piece. I think it's fantastic. There's so much to it, I love it, it is exactly this type of piece that I gravitate towards. And it's filled with like such a great tone and confidence within the writing it is really, really interesting. And I'd highly recommend you check this one out. I think this is something that lots of people will enjoy and can find something that they really like, 'yeah, I relate to that'. Or 'I can so see that in myself' . So yeah, I highly recommend the piece 'Be Positive'.
Another piece I really enjoyed is 'repetition' by Ben Riddle. So the opening phrase is definitely what pulled me in on this piece. So 'I am sitting with a backpack by the
side of the road kept company by a sign
that says some time a bus will
come'. I love openings like that, it just really pulls me in and it's got such a like quality that I just enjoy it. So that was the phrase that made me want to keep reading. And it's great piece, such a great piece. So lines that I especially enjoy is 'that what I think a plum tastes like
is the same for you. Perhaps it is not so strange
all the things people disagree on
if we for a moment' and then it sort of like fades into each other with like enjabment of the lines, and they all like sort of run into each other. I think it's great. There's lots of like contemporary qualities that like stick out in this piece like we have like 'relationship status on Facebook', like buses and weaves so many interesting elements together. And this is quite a long piece. Like I usually don't like poems this long. I prefer things short and snappy. But this is definitely something that yes, I'm loving the length, I'm loving, I keep wanting, I want to keep reading, I want to keep delving into the story and this narrative that's being created. And it's fantastic. We get to this segment about like lights and how the lights change. And then the last line is 'it’s the same red I see?
' its so cool. There's lots of different elements in here that like pop out. There's lots to dissect, like I've read this a couple of times. And I don't think I've still read enough of it to really like delve into the story and really unwrap all the different layers in this piece. So I'm just excited to carry on reading this and picking out these parts and seeing the story that Ben so cleverly created.
And so they were the pieces that I've really enjoyed reading in censorships first issue but all of the pieces were fantastic. I really enjoyed flicking through and checking out all of the work. So, I mean, there's so many that I haven't mentioned that are brilliant and I highly recommend you reading. It's such a fantastic issue. I think it's really offering something a bit different. The work in it is fabulous. There is such a confidence in all of the pieces and the editor Bea has done so well in putting this together. The artwork is fantastic. It's gorgeous. I really recommend you checking it out. If you have some time to spare you definitely won't regret it. I think you'll feel, you'll leave feeling really enriched. This is a great issue. So great job censorship, can't wait to see your next one.
So we're also going to take a look at CP Quarterly's most recent issue. So CP Quarterly, it says on their site, it was founded out of love for the craft and the need to fill the world with exciting literature that speaks to all kinds of people. So that sounds absolutely amazing. Exactly my cup of tea. And the most recent issue is so, so cool. I absolutely loved most of the pieces in here. So I just thought I would shout out some of my my favorite pieces that I recommend you go over and check out as well as the rest of this fabulous issue. So the first piece that really stuck out to me was'clouds' by Tanner Armatis and I really like the way this piece is formatted. Yeah, it's really cool. There is lots of segments, I really enjoyed this piece, I feel like each sort of segment could be separated and just read in its own little way. But also together, it also works really well. But what I really enjoyed doing when reading this is just zooming in, on like little sort of segments like the little clouds. So for example, I really like the little cloud, 'faded fluffy plush pillow flock portal'. They're the words and that a little cloud. There is another one below it 'brief, dense, brisk, dainty bizarre depression.' And I like the fact that this can be read in a lot of ways you can read it, like you know, pick out individual words, or maybe there is a way that specifically you are meant to like read it. But I don't think that's necessarily like the way that you have to read it. I think there's lots of different forms that this can be read. And I really enjoy that as a reader. I really liked line 'clouds are only pretty because variation is beauty because one is truely one.' I love that. And there's a segment which is high, high, high, high, high, high, this is great. There's just so many different segments that you can like zoom in on and enjoy. It is a really fabulous piece. And I highly recommend you looking at it because this is just it's not just poetry, this is like art, this is a creation. And I really, really recommend you read it.
Another piece I really enjoyed is 'Washed up' by KC Bailey. And the thing I love about this piece is that it's not this like long, overly descriptive piece. It's quite simple. It's quite short. But this just has such a great sort of like confidence in its writing. I think it's so impactful and powerful even though it's not like pages and pages long or overly descriptive, I think it does exactly what it needs to do in like the most, you know the tightest way possible, which is something I love and I look for in submissions for Full House, we really like this type confident way of telling a story. So the first line is 'She made a doll
from a dishrag
' immediately that's the sort of line that pulls me in. I love the sound of doll and dishrag. I like the way that it's a phrase that's interesting. I'm like, okay, I want to know more about this. It's not the type of thing I see every day it's absolutely fabulous. I really like the last line or the last stanza 'bleach boiled
falling apart.' Just fantastic writing. Highly recommend you read this one. This is brilliant. It's absolutely fantastic. As I said, there's not like pages and pages to read. But what is there is phenomenal, so tight, so well executed, highly recommend you check that one out.
I also liked 'sack of potatoes' by Maria Clark. There's lots of little lines I think is really beautiful in this piece. The thing that stuck out to me the most is 'all of us sardines
in the sardine tin of your bed'. I think that's a really lovely line. And then there's this repeated sort of a sack of potato imagery. I think the way that a story told in this piece is really beautiful. I like the last line, I like lots of elements to this piece, I think. I think it's great. I think it works really well. A line I really like is 'We’ll wait, on the trapeze of the sofa’s arm,
Waiting for our bedtime stories, and the
mountain climb to our bedrooms.' its great. It's really lovely. It's really beautiful. There's lots of really beautiful imagery in this piece. And I just really like the repetition of the potatoes, and sort of like the image it creates. But yeah, that line about all of our sardines and the sardine tin in your bed was the one that really stuck out to me. And I thought that was very emotive and really great way of describing what is such a familiar thing. So yeh, a really great piece.
Another piece I really enjoyed was 'The Thames' by Grace Hui . So again, there's an opening stanza that really pulls me in. 'On a rainy weekend, I forced my mother and I to watch a documentary neither of us cared
about, simply so I could converse with people I did not care for.
' just such a fantastic opening line. I feel like there's so much there. And that's the sort of opening that I read it and I'm like yes, I need to find out more about this piece. I love that style of writing. It's brilliant. And a favorite line I really enjoyed apart from that first line would be the last line. So'If only I had known it was yesterday’s news by then.
' And I just think it's fantastic piece. There's so much sandwiched in between the first and last stanza, which repeats about the rainy weekend. Yeah, it's a really great piece I really enjoyed reading. It wasn't, it's not something that you know, I expect. I think it's great. It sets up this great, great image of these people sitting there. And what's going on in the background on what's going on around the context of this piece is fantastic. I really enjoyed it. I think there's lots of brilliant elements to this piece. And Grace has done such a brilliant job of holding my attention and pulling me into the story. I really enjoyed reading so highly recommend you check that piece out.
Another piece I really enjoyed was 'love song' by Kitty Jospé and the thing I most enjoy about this is like the sound and the way that kitty has constructed the flow of this piece. So particular lines I really enjoy is 'when they stroke my skin'. Also, 'the monopoly of a moment together' also 'lingers longer'. And the final line which is 'confirmed in the seam of our skin', I love the way that Kitty has that use of the repeated sort of sounds, to create this amazing sort of flow to the piece. That is another thing that I always look out for in submissions, the way that sound is used, and the way that thought has gone behind the construction of not just you know the lines, but how they sound read how they flow together. So I thought this is a great piece, lots of beautiful lines that really pulled me in. I really, really enjoyed this piece, I think there's lots of really lovely elements to it. And this is the type of thing that I try and do in my own work. So I definitely had a lot of admiration for it.
Another piece that I thought was really good is Jasmine Cure by Joey Isjwara, and this is such, oh gosh, well, the images that are evoked in this piece are so brilliant. I mean, I really feel like when I'm reading this piece, I am in there, I can smell the tea, I can feel the warmth. And I really like that when I was reading this piece, I honestly felt like I was in the moment. You know, like, I love pieces that sort of immerse you this is definitely an immersive piece, the way that it's written, it really does pull you in. I really like the repetition of the the jasmine tea and each time it pops up. I feel like this is a really great piece in terms of focuses on a lot of different senses. I like the language here, for example, 'had jasmine clusters in her
silver-strewn hair'. I also really liked the line, ' I stitched myself whole with threads woven'. And like that's so great. There's so much fantastic imagery within this piece that really just adds to the moment, I feel like it's just this tiny little gem, tiny little moment in time that is captured here within this piece. And it's just fantastic. I reread this piece a lot of times and even after coming away and doing my daily life, like this piece is still floating around on my head. And it its just something so beautiful about what it captures. And I highly recommend you checking that one out.
And there are some really amazing creative nonfiction pieces and essays in this issue as well and I highly recommend you check out. I really enjoyed flicking through those.
And then we get to the art sort of sections, I really liked the piece 'scatterbrain' by Laura Becker, the explosion of color is fantastic in this piece. Oh, this is definitely one that would belong on a wall or gallery its fantastic. The way that these different colours are used and the way that like lines are used and the way that this main image of this sort of like brain type element is created. It's so cool. It's beautiful. Like it stuck out to me instantly as I was like scrolling through my phone, I was just like wow, that's just a beautiful, gorgeous, gorgeous image. It's so bold and bright and vibrant. And I think the story in there is fantastic.
Those were the main pieces that stuck out to me personally. But obviously it's so subjective. And I highly, highly recommend you to read this issue because there's going to be pieces that you absolutely adore. It's such a great issue. That's such a good variety in there of different pieces of different styles and I mean, I've highlighted the ones that stuck out to me, but I know that you will have your own individual tastes and that and I think this is a great issue for that. There's a lot of experimental pieces, a lot of more traditional pieces. But all of the pieces have that in common that they're confident they're unique, and they are extremely well executed. So I highly recommend you check out CP Quarterly and their most recent issue.
And so finally, in our sort of community review segment, I really want to highlight the book for, I want to highlight a book for all our thriller, psychological type crime thriller lovers out there. Nikki Dudley has released the novel Volta, which is fantastic is so so cool. I think it's really different than those in the genre because it's so well crafted. It's got such an interesting dynamic that it really does make it stand out. I read a lot of thrillers, psychological, crime type books, and this one's great, the perspectives in it explored are entirely different than that of what I've read before. And Volta is fantastic. The actual physical copy of volta is really great as well. It's really great quality. And I highly recommend this book. It's got some really positive reviews on Amazon, and everyone that has picked it up has seemed to absolutely adore it. And I you know, I know exactly why, it's a fantastic book. The plot in this is so well crafted and the way that Nikki writes. It's not just your typical prose, it really does have a sort of poetic quality to some of the writing that does make it stand out and elevates it I think. The plot is so well done. It's a fantastic piece and each of the characters that are in it, they're so intricate and they're not so they're not just you see them on the surface level and you like them or dislike them, they have these sort of layers in them that you like this part and you don't like this part. And they're so real. They're not just characters on the page, you can feel these characters, they feel like your next door neighbor, or the police officer you know, they feel like really familiar people in that they're not just, you know, 2d, they're very alive, which is something that I thought was really unique from volta, I don't often get that. And I was reading this, and I was on the edge of my seat for many, many segments thinking, What's going to happen? How is this gonna unfold? So yeah, if you are someone who likes you know, the classic page turner, this is definitely for you. And I highly recommend you check it out. And it was having a reduced deal on Kindle recently. As I'm not sure if that deal is still running, but check it out while you can. Fantastic book. And it also did win the Virginia writing prize, so it's an award winning book as well. Yeah, it's fantastic. And I highly recommend you have a read if you're looking for something as a holiday read, or just something to pass the time something in the evenings, or even something to wake you up in the morning. This definitely will. So highly recommend volta by Nikki Dudley.
And so now we have our first guest who is the wonderful Shontay! Shontay is a fabulous writer, such a brilliant, brilliant individual and we're really excited to have a chat with Shontay and find out more about you know Shontay's writing processes and delve a bit deeper into what happens to create, you know, the magic that Shontay writes. So hi, Shontay how are you?
Good and you?
Yeah, great, I'm really excited to like have a chat with you and find out a bit more about you and your writing. So to begin with, do you just want to start off by for anyone who may not know you, and just talk a little bit about yourself, where you're from, and how long you've been writing that sort of thing.
Okay, my name is Shontay Luna, born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, in the US, and I'm still here, I've been here all my life, started writing when I was in high school, and to give you an idea of how old I am that was like in the early to mid 80s. So now as of this moment, I'm 51. But in August, I'll be 52. And I've been writing all my adult life took up a lot of time to raise three beautiful daughters, all of which are grown now. And as of 2019, I started writing to submit to publications again.It's a slow road but you know, you got to keep on track.
Oh, wow, that is a busy life. And you've been writing for so long. Wow.
Yes. Submitting here and there, back in the day, but like, I really got back into submitting probably like in the last three or four years or so. But other than that I was literally in my closet writing at night, because when my three daughters was small, that was the only time I had to write.
Yeah. That must have been difficult raising your little ones and also writing at the same time. How did you manage that? Obviously, you said late at night was the only time was it? Was it difficult?
It was it was very difficult. I've written some poems about that, too. And it's something that usually mostly effects female poets that decide to become mothers because men of course don't have, most men don't have to worry about raising kids, raising kids, and making the decision whether to raise kids or sacrifice their writing. But I have also tried not writing before and that doesn't work either.
Everyone who writes understands that if you try to stop writing, you will become miserable. For me, I was angry all the time. And I didn't know why. Until I ran across a quote a quote from Franz Kafka. And he said that a non writing writer is a monster courting insanity.
I know. Right? Exactly. That's exactly what.
Oh, my goodness. And so what sort of things do you like to write then? Do you have like, certain themes you like to write about? Or is everything a bit different?
Everything is different. I know some writers who write just like all dark are all light, and I wouldn't be happier one way or the other. I have written about a varying degree of things. It could be something as heavy as loss of a loved one, or, or something that I've seen, like some other people, a subject as heavy as incest or could be something as light as couponing, or running about clothes drying in the sun, which I've written about all those things, by the way.
And do you have a favorite piece like you've ever written? And why is it your favorite?
Oh, if you asked me this, like sometime, like before December, I wouldn't have said I had a favorite piece. But in December, I wrote a short poem, called 'he', it's, without going into too much detail is about a real life person. And about how, how this person handled my feelings per say.
It doesn't have a home yet I had been submitting it since December, every month or so I do a tally. So far, it's been turned down by 12 publication. But it's still in a ring with 11 on the other publications. But I'm not worried because I made a vow when I started submitting this that I don't care if I had to submit it to every literary magazine in the country in the world, or the world, I will see this in print.
Awesome, definitely keep going with that. Hopefully, that will be in print soon. And definitely share it with us. When it is we'd love to read it. And good luck with that sounds like a really, really great piece. And I mean, it's interesting that you say that, like you wouldn't have had a favourite up to that point. Because obviously, you've been writing for so long. Why do you think that is?
I don't know. It's weird, because it's like, I have three daughters. And they asked me which one is my favorite? And I say I don't have a favorite. One thinks another one's a favorite, even though I said I didn't have one. But it's like, I just I just love them all. I can't give, besides the poem upon that I mentioned I can't give other poems more love than other poems. I'd just like to see them all find a home.
Definitely, fair enough. And would you say you've learned a lot then from once you started writing because you started writing fairly, fairly young and to where you are now you must have grown a lot. What would you say is like the biggest thing that you've learned from when you started to now?
Through writing, the biggest thing I've learned was writing is therapy for me. If something is bothering me, or upsetting me, once I write about it, it becomes more manageable. I am many times my own best friend, which is something that never realized before. Because we live in a world where society teaches us that all these women all you got to have a mate, whether it be another man or another woman, and the society that doesn't really promote people to be in love with themselves sort of speak. But that's here in America. I don't know. I just realized now you guys in the UK, I don't know how it is over there. But here with us. And instead of society doing that, society should you know influence girls, the way they influence boys that they can do anything that they're unstoppable. So yeah, just writing, I've learned to, I've learned to listen to myself. And I learn to know myself better through what I say when I write because I like to write the truth, even if there's something that I rather not face. Or talk about in that particular moment.
Alright, yeah, no, that's super interesting. That's, that's awesome. I love that. And I also wondered, how is it that like, what does it look like when you sit down to write ? Have you got a notepad and pen? Are you at your computer or laptop? And is there a certain sort of mood or mindset you have to be in? What happens when you do your craft?
With me, it's like, some people write every day. I can't, I feel the tie down if I do everything by a set schedule. But yeah, if I wait too long, then I begin to feel antsy, like for me too long would be like if I go, like maybe two days without writing it, it's too much. And I start to feel like, I started feeling like that that monster that Franz Kafka was talking about in that quote, so I might write every other day. Usually, I'm left handed so I write on my bed I lay down on my right side. And as I write poetry, I hand write and write everything and then later on I will type it into Google Drive. But sometimes I run across stuff I written six months a year ago, that hasn't been put into the computer yet. And then I rewrite it. Because rewriting is constant in poetry.
Oh, definitely. Yeah. I mean, I was gonna ask you about, how do you do your edits? And if your pieces generally come out, like fully formed, or do they need a lot of work and or is it a bit different? How do you approach edits? Do you like making edits?
I do. I don't mind editing, I just don't do it right away. Right. When I write something, I like to let it sit for a while. That could be a day, a couple of days a week. Like I said before, and I found pieces that I've written like, years before. And always, it's always something that that can be readjusted. It's the same with fanfiction too, I write fanfiction poems and just little vignettes of stories about fictional characters, I post it right away. But then I'll go back to read and I'm always going back to readjust something.
Yeah, and so how do you know when a piece is done?
It's a feeling. I pay attention to how I feel after I read it. Sometimes I may just redo something once. The poem I mentioned, the one that I'm trying to get published. I only , I wrote it in December, but I only really adjusted it, like maybe a week ago. So we'll see if the following publication are receiving more warmly. I readjusted it a bit. It's just a feeling. It's, I don't know if that feeling will come that I rewrote, rewrote it twice, or four or 10 times. But it's usually not that many times. For me, it's like, maybe I might rewrite something four or five times.
Okay. Yeah, fair enough. Yeah, it definitely makes sense. It's a really interesting process to hear about that and how it works. And so for you, where do you get your inspiration from in terms of like topics to write about? And also, do you get inspiration from any other writers? Or are there people that you know, you admire?
I get inspiration sometimes, like, last fall, I found inspiration all around me, which was weird, because it never happened before. And then sometimes, usually, like, as I go about my day, an idea will come up in my head. Or if like, if I'm at work, I get an idea. And I write it down real quick. So I can look at it later. As for inspiration for other writers, I have two accounts on Twitter. There's the writing account, which is, which is Shontay Luna all together with the first letters, capital letters, and I follow a lot of other writers. And really, I have one good writer friend. And I don't know if she will want me to use her name, I didn't get a chance to ask her beforehand. But she writes all stories, and she writes a lot of fanfiction, I'm talking stories that are like 30 chapters long. And they're like some huge chapters. And she writes like crazy. She is my inspiration for story writing, because story writing is new to me, as my original basis is in poetry. So I'm used to writing a short burst a time and she she writes out like stories like 100,000 words, putting out two or three chapters a day and it just blows my mind I'm like, wow, because I know I couldn't write like her I get I get distracted easily after a while and I have to take breaks.
If she hears this, she'll know its her.
No worries at all. Um, so what have been some of like the best moments in your writing journey or things that you've been really proud of, or, you know, moments we've been really happy with, like your progress or any achievements that you've made?
Well, in 2017, I published my first book, Reflections of a project girl, that was what a independent publisher. And that particular book was all feminist related poems, poems relating to the to the female cause, and issues that woman goes through. And I was ecstatic and over the moon about that. And 2017 published my own book through Amazon, called recollections and dream. Because even though I love the fact that the first book had was all feminist related topics, I wanted to tackle some other some other issues that were light hearted, like pop culture and stuff like that. And as of March of this year, I published my third book, to James and Sarah with love. Poetry based on the slang of the 1920s to the 1940s. I'm particularly proud of that book, because it's the most personal book I've written about my paternal grandparents. And the book is divided is divided into three sections, a section of poems based on their lives. The middle section, is based on my life. And then the last section is just poems based on life in general. And I wrote it in about six months, from the initial conception to the completion. And a friend of mine gave me an idea for the book. But she's in the acknowledgments also, I thank her for that. And I'm just really proud of it. And I wanted to do something to remember my grandparents by and, and also, I like it, because it would give my three daughters something to remember their great grandparents by.
Yeah, that's awesome, you've achieved so much. That's fantastic. I mean, I'm in awe just listening to that. I mean, that's, fantastic. So great. And I mean, did you could you see this like, for if you think about, you know, when you were just starting out as a writer, would you ever have been able to imagine that, you know, like, you made these great achievements?
No, no, not at all. It's just crazy how some things happen. Like I saw myself publishing books but not, not like my most recent book, I, I tried to look to see if there was a book like it before, but I couldn't find anything. Because you know, there are like film noir movies in general on novels. But I've never seen it applied to poetry. So I like to get it you know, I think it is unique in its kind, and I hope people and people will buy it.
Oh, totally. It sounds absolutely fantastic. Your work sounds incredible. And I love the themes and topics that you write about, you know, it sounds like these are really like passionate things that are like properly, something that you very deeply care about.
Thank you. I adore my my grandparents. My grandfather was the father figure in my life, because his son, my father died suddenly when he was 24. And my my grandfather was, my grandparents and my mom they raised. Yeah, I like to tell people everything that is good in me I credit to them.
Wow, no, that's lovely. That is really lovely. Well, I mean, hopefully everyone goes and checks that out. Because it sounds fantastic. I mean, we're such a fan of your work. I think you're incredible. And I mean, going forwards. I mean, you must always be working on an exciting things. So if you got anything upcoming any upcoming publications, and then past then what are some of your hopes and dreams going forwards?
Upcoming, I'm still submitting to other publications, and just just writing more fanfiction stories, I am on archive of our own. My ID is Celi_1208. And I considered maybe restarting the book, but I want to give this book like as much push as I can, and getting it out there and getting people to recognize it. I've been very fortunate that at least three or four famous names have retweeted because they know somebody who who knew me online. I don't like to drop names, but it's out there. And I just want to see how far you know how far this can go before I can devote my attention to another work. Oh, and yeah, you said my hopes and dream. I would just, I work in the publishing industry by day. That's just the a fancy way of saying I work in a bookstore. And I like it, but I would like to, you know, fulfill my my dream of being a full time writer. So it's my dream that when I leave there, other people have left there to follow their dream jobs, so I would like to stay there til I can leave to begin my dream career as a professional poet.
Well, I do not think that is too far out of reach at all. So you're a fantastic writer, and I look forward to in the future, just having your name in lights everywhere, the future is going to be bright for you, for sure.
Thank you so much.
I mean, it's been absolutely fantastic to find out more about you. Such a fascinating writer with such a great story. And I just think you're fantastic. I'm absolutely in awe of you so thank you so much for having a chat with us. And giving me and everyone else the opportunity to find out more about you.
Thank you, thank you for having me. I'm most grateful. And you have made my, my day and my month.
Great, thank you. So that was great to speak to Shontay. And next up we have the wonderful JP interviewing a very special guest.
Hello, and welcome to the Full House podcast. And I'm delighted that I've got Stuart McPherson with me today. Stuart is a poet, and writer, who's had a debut micro pamphlet out and has another one coming out later in this year. And we'll talk more about those in our discussion, but actually, Stuart, welcome. And perhaps you'd like to just introduce yourself to our listeners.
Hi there. Yeah. Thanks for Thanks for having me. My name is Stuart. Stuart McPherson. And I live in just outside Leicester. And so I've been in Leicester for a long time many years. Poet and writer, I guess I find it difficult to define exactly kind of what that means. I guess you could call my poetry, confessional, maybe observational. And I like to write a lot about the family. I like to write a lot about masculinity, and maybe kind of touch on a few things that prompts discussions about some subjects that otherwise aren't necessarily had that often. So that's that's kind of what my work touches on.
Thank you. And I'd really like us to sort of delve into that a little bit deeper as we go on. But I've only come across your writing your poetry, perhaps in the last six months or so. And just really taken by it and really loved some of the images and the themes that you're expressing, as you say, but I'm just wondering about your writing journey. I mean, you know, have you been writing and being writing poetry in particular for a long time? Or is it something you've come back to or just started recently, give us a flavor for how your creative journey I suppose to current day.
I've been writing poetry for about 10 years, predominantly, just written poetry. And I started off, I've always been a massive fan of punk rock. And for kind of the early part of my life, I played in a lot of bands. So when I was a teenager, so about the age of 13, I was I was traveling around the country with a bunch of older people, and, you know, playing in some of the dingiest grottiest places that you could imagine, but it's kind of through that I discovered writing. I was a am a huge fan of Henry Rollins and the Rollins band, that was probably one of my earliest influences. And I kind of as a young teenager, and then kind of, in my early 20s, I kind of just absorbed everything that he had written all the music that he was putting out, and I just kind of I fell in love with his books, and a lot of the way you could really, you know, call it poetry in the strictest sense of the word. But I loved kind of what he wrote and how raw it was, and kind of the emotional output of it. So that's kind of what really, that was the gateway for me and then I started writing about 10 years ago, the first proper I say, I started writing poetry and reading poetry properly at about the same time. And like lots of people found my way into it really, I guess through through Charles Bukowski and very obviously very popular very, very well I guess well regarded poet. And, and it was that that I, I started reading him I probably started to try and emulate his style very, very poorly in the in the beginning, but I liked the intensity emotion that he managed to put like that he seemed to put out. I have to say that kind of, as I've matured I I've kind of found a bit of distance from him. I as I kind of matured and learned more about his work and understood my guess I started to dislike him a bit as a kind of a character. And I think that that, and some of the kind of the themes in his work, and that kind of put me off, but that, he was my gateway into it. And I just, I had no idea what I was reading what I was writing, I picked up WH Auden, I picked up Philip Larkin and kind of some more of the, I guess, that you would say kind of classic, say classic, you know, that's probably not not the right word. But I guess some of the more well known British poets, but at the same time, I started my own website, and I started to put out on like, no poetry online. And I joined like an online poetry group. And it was one of those groups, that's probably, you know, it's very social media, it was all it wasn't so much about the poetry, it was more about, who you know, how many likes, you could get on your posts, and how many comments you could get, and didn't really kind of serve serve me that well, in terms of shaping my writing, or developing my writing or anything like that. But it was where I met, I met Aaron, the first time, I met Aaron, on this online group back 10 years ago. And actually, he was one of the first writers that actually I discovered, as you know, how, you know, having a different voice and a different angle on things, compared to the vast majority of the work that I was reading, and, and we kind of, we started bouncing, you know, poetry or picture there and sharing poetry. And that's how I started I, I had a few pieces published, my work at the time was very, I don't know how to really describe it, it was kind of I was trying to avoid trying too hard. And it was a bit rhymey. And just a bit. And I guess I was more in the sonnet form, I think sonets are great, but like, I did, wasn't doing it very well. Didn't really know what I was doing. But I had a few bit bits published. And, and yeah, that's kind of how I started to, you know, first write some of you know, sort of my poems, and then took a pretty significant break. And probably for around six or seven years, it's actually coincided with the birth of my daughter, I found that the birth of my daughter was kind of a catalyst for a lot of things, it First of all, obviously, took, you know, took a lot of focus and a lot of effort, but also it did trigger some, you know, some mental health related issues, and kind of, in trying to fully focus on my daughter and deal with those issues, it meant that I kind of lost my way a little bit with poetry, and I didn't really, I didn't really pick it up again, properly, until last year. And it was actually through, you know, finding, you know, touching base with with Aaron again, and, and seeing the amazing work that he'd done, discovering broken sleep, it was there that I discovered, Serge, Serge Neptune. And actually, his was the first pamphlet that I picked up in a long, long, long time. Just that kind of relit my enthusiasm for it, and really encouraged me to start writing in a different way, probably more freely without trying to emulate anything just really kind of trying to be authentic and true to myself. And, and I yeah, I really, and I still love, his pamphlet is brilliant. I genuinely think he's, you know, he's a he's an incredible writer. And it was him. He kind of brought it back into it. And, and since then, I've just immersed myself in as much work as you know, as much poetry as possible. I read everything I can get my hands on, literally everything. Just because I like to consume as many different styles as many different voices as possible. I think that's really important. So that's probably a very long answer to the question, but that's, that's kind of my journey really.
Yeah. Well, and and a fascinating one. I mean, thank you for that, because it's really interesting, I think, to hear how writers sort of, you know, are influenced by both life events, you know, that might take their writing in a different direction, but also,living and dead kind of poets and writers can sort of come at a particular moment in your life. And actually think and take you in a particular direction. And it's really particularly fascinating that, you know, two of your early influences bukowski and Henry Rollins, you know, at least I see them as being quite that sort of alpha male, kind of very hyper, you know, very sort of masculine, quite aggressively masculine, if you like, kinda writers, yet, you you write a lot about the sort of fragility of sort of modern masculinity, or at least that's my very simplistic take on it. And, and, you know, expressing an aspect of masculinity that perhaps wasn't so apparent, always perhaps hidden or kind of disguised, because it wasn't the kind of hard man image that those sorts of writers and their followers at the time might have wanted to portray. So it's really interesting that that sort of journey you've taken, and yeah, just to just just for our listeners, we had the pleasure of Leia interviewed Serge Neptune a few months ago on our podcast, which was great and hearing him talk about resilience, and his journey. And obviously, his his pamphlet was fantastic. And you mentioned Aaron Kent, as well, who's who's the founder and publisher of broken sleep books, and an amazing writer and poet in his own right, of course. So that's quite a journey. But it's interesting that you've kind of picked it up after a long gap. And obviously, now fully throwing yourself into it, by the sound of it and exploring so many different types of work. So you, you had your micro pamphlet published as one of the legitimate snacks didn't you earlier this year? Do you wanna tell us a little bit about that, or perhaps some of the poems or themes that are in that and it would be interesting to explore the themes, I think, a little bit more?
Sure. So yeah, that the legitimate snack was called Pale Mnemonic. And I guess that the title means like, a mnemonic is a series of things to help you remember something. And it's written very much about the family. And it's written very much about the things that are passed down to you, in families and from parents in particular. And I guess my way of creating something that helps me to remember some of the reasons why I am like, like, I am some of the reasons why my parents were like, they are some of the, you know, the issues that has been that have been created as a result of things being passed down to me by my own parents. And I like to explore that from a male perspective and to write about masculinity, because to kind of touch on your point earlier, and it's interesting that you raise it, but looking at people like Rollins, and bukowski, and that kind of alpha male, you know, I, I had a distinct lack of male male role models in my life, and I did not have really have a father figure in my life. And I think I was very much looking for, you know, and trying to understand myself through that work through you know, through kind of ultra masculine stuff to kind of identify with because actually I don't really have a sense of what being a true like a man actually might mean, like that, I find that term that concept quite difficult, because I don't, I'm not really able to answer it. So I guess in terms of my work, that's kind of what comes through in that I'm trying to explore my understanding of the things that I see the things that I've experienced, and kind of talk about and talk about that. And then in the legitimate snack, I talk very much about kind of, I guess, recovery from from abuse, the impact of that on, you know, from a man's perspective, the emotion that kind of is carried with that. And I guess, more importantly, not being afraid to be vulnerable. Yes, really talking been talking about and you know, not being afraid to be vulnerable and actually how being vulnerable can be empowering because it's something that I think men are pretty terrible at. And I don't think that men are able to adequately express emotion, and you know, and true feeling and I think that these things are held inside very much in for a long time. And that I think that that's incredibly damaging. So the pamphlet explores all those things. It's kind of it's a whole you know, it's it's focused on there's things that are passed down, the impacts that they've had, and it kind of it, it works its way through from impacts in early life, to the end of the pamphlet, which the very last poem in it kind of talks about, being able to be free from it, and kind of when, you know, there's some lines in there, like, when, you know, when you die, about floating away, like, you know, like a lanten, and kind of becoming enlightened and freer of these things, and lighter, so kind of it works, it works its way through, and that is the general themes of it.
Yeah, I mean, it's, there's some beautiful images in there. I mean, I very much enjoyed reading your poetry. And that's why I can't wait to, to read more of it. And it's interesting, you mentioned the kind of vulnerability aspect of it, because when you were saying that, it occurred to me that in some ways, poetry as a form, it feels as though it is where we express ourselves in the most vulnerable way, there's something about poetry, and obviously, there's so many different styles and genres, that kind of gets down to the essence of things, you know, where you sort of reveal yourself, in very, you know, sometimes it only just a few words, or a couple of phrases, or some images that somehow manage to, you know, hopefully speak to the reader, but that, that sort of personify that feeling or that sort of, you know, that particular issue or that particular idea that you're trying to, you know, express so it's, it feels as though it's a good fit, you know, with your personal journey, and, obviously, how you've developed as a writer to that, that you obviously, you know, you're now creating this beautifully, fragile, yet very powerful, strong images, you know, in the work that you do, at least that's, that's what I that's what I take from it.
Yeah, no, that's, you know, that's great. I think that's, that's definitely my, my intent is to, I don't think that I'm the most kind of skillful writer, I don't think that, you know, like, if you asked me to write a, you know, a sonnet, or, you know, a particular form of poetry, I'd really, really struggle, but what I do like to try and achieve is, is some feeling and at least some emotion and, and I think that I'm able to do that through just I guess, you know, I'm being genuinely authentic with what I write and I think, that good poetry you can, that comes through, I think, not saying that my poetry is is good. But, you know, I mean, it's, I think you can, you can see, you can really, you can feel it when you read something that it's truly authentic, like, it's, it's almost, it's transcends the words on the page, almost, it becomes something more, that is a feeling that's kind of captured within the, you know, within the whole piece. And that's, if I can do that, and if I can achieve that, then I know, I'm very happy.
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Well, I think I think we could say that your poetry is good Stuart, at least, you know, I think it's, you know, but it's always a journey, isn't it? I think it's it's always an ongoing kind of process. I was interested also in your, your history, probably because it's my own sort of interested in music. And you know, having also played in bands and things when I was younger, but interesting that you sort of started there, which again, feels like it you know, that kind of sort of slightly grungy, punky let's DIY type of music. It feels that that is a very masculine thing as well in it almost feels like that's, that's the way that young men can express themselves. were writing, poetry is often seen as being something that's a bit kind of girly, or it's not the sort of thing that real men do, if you see what I mean it, you know, it might be that people might aspire to write a fiction novel, but somehow poetry seems to be seen as less important to at least at least at school, and I think I imagine sort of growing up, it's perhaps not seen to be the done thing. I don't know, whether that was your experience, you know, in your sort of earlier years, or going through education?
Yeah, I mean, when I think about my education, I mean, poetry didn't know it was non existent, at least kind of what I can remember it was very much focused on the classics. So there was a lot of Shakespeare and you know, that that kind of that kind of writing was on the on the syllabus. In terms of music. Yeah, I guess that the punk and and hardcore and it was very, it appealed to me because I felt a lot of, I felt a lot of anger kind of growing up. You know, as a, you know, as an adolescent and kind of from a, you know, a very abusive background. I had a lot of anger. And that was the perfect thing for me to identify with and it's why I still identity with it now because you know, I still haven't fully got rid of, you know, or been able to kind of you know, fully escape all of that is something that still needed still returns now and again, but that that's kind of what I very much identified with. And because I felt very much on there, particularly school and in terms of friendships, relationships, whether that was at home or you know, with other people, I felt very much on the on the margins of things and kind of, a little bit on the outside. And music and punk in particular was something that just identified within the people that I met, that I ended up playing in bands with were, were similar to me, and they really looked after me almost, you know, they were in their 20s. And I was 13/14. So, you know, I kind of, I think now about my daughter driving around the country at 13/14, kind of doing some of the things that I did, and I wouldn't be happy. So I'm kind of at the time, but you know, at the time, I thought I had exceptional freedom, but actually, you know, probably was quite dangerous. And, and there were certainly some situations that I ended up in during that time that, you know, I know, were difficult, I had some good people looking after me. Which I was very grateful for, and actually, still in touch with now. But, yeah, poetry, I think, I, you know, I think poetry particularly from a male point of view, is not something that is, you know, I guess outside of poetry is not fully understood. Or, you know, you say poetry people do think of it as maybe something that is more, you know, more feminine, which is so, you know, whether you want to say girly, or however you want to describe that, I do think it's there's there's probably outside of poetry its maybe seen that way, I hope that maybe what I can achieve with some of the work that I do, or some of the things that I write is to, is to show that it's not, it doesn't have to be that it actually it can be it can be delicate, it can be sensitive, it can be, it can be vulnerable, because these are all the things that men are, like, as much as, as much as we want to deny it, deep down, beneath all the masks and all the fronts, and you know, we are, we just don't know, why we are and we don't know how to express it properly. And when I say we, I know I'm talking, you know, and making some really sweeping generalizations, but now when you look at male rates of suicide, it's, it's an epidemic. And one of the I think, you know, one of the reasons for that is because men just cannot, cannot identify with or struggle to identify with things that are more emotional, more fragile, more, you know, more delicate, that may, for some bizarre reason, somehow impinge on their sense of identity. And, and I kind of hope to try and break that down a little bit. And at least maybe start conversation about it. And some of the, you know, some of my close friends who didn't even know that I wrote poetry and I'm like, oh, I've got this like, little pamphlet, and they've, you know, they've bought it and they're like, okay, I, I need you to tell me why now, I need you to talk to me about it. Because I don't necessarily know what you're trying to get at. And then I talk to them, and they see it, and they get it. And so, yeah, it's it's a it's a difficult thing. I definitely certainly, you know, outside of poetry, I think, I think it's a shame that poetry is not I mean, it's been a long time since I was at school, but I think it's I think the arts in general, I think it's such a shame that it's not focused on because I do genuinely think that if poetry and and the arts was pushed more at a younger age, particularly for young men, I do think that there would be that a lot of young young men and men in particular would find it a very positive outlet. And very cathartic because you can express yourself and you can express yourself and you know, if that's in quite an abstract way, you can express yourself in quite a safe way. You can still get things across that you want to say that you know, what you're, you know, what you're saying, you know, the kind of message that you're getting out, you know, what you're putting into into the words. And I just think that, you know, it could be a really good way for some men's kind of explored emotion and identity and it you know, in a different way.
Yeah, yeah, no, I think you're right. I mean, it's it's, it's, it's such a burden in a way to have to carry that sort of boys don't cry idea, you know that, that, that, that as boys and and men, you know you're expected to kind of bottle up feelings and not express them to the extent that then, you know when when obviously, in everyone's life, there'll be challenges and traumas and, you know, losses and grief that they have gotten have no way of expressing themselves. And that, as you say sort of often leads to, you know, really alarming rates of addiction as well as suicide that you do see, you know, more predominantly in men than in women. Obviously, there are so many marginalized groups that have their own challenges. But the fact that this is is, you know, that there's no real acknowledgement that this is something that happens to men, and that they have a need to express themselves in this way, in a safe way, as you say, I think he's a problem. But so it's great that you're addressing those themes. And they're ones that that obviously are important to you, and obviously speak to many others as well. I've been lucky to see you read poetry on a couple of occasions, I think the first one was with Serge's, glitter house, which, which is a fantastic public service, I feel that he that he offers every month. And then I think more recently at the Cheltenham poetry festival. And I, I wonder, because of the kind of themes that you're tackling, and I also because of your sort of history, and you're talking about needing to express things, whether you found it quite difficult reading poetry in, you know, particularly online, where you're not sort of there face to face with people, and you can't sort of see how they are reacting to them. And in a way you're, you're communicating directly with your audience or your readers, or whether and also whether you, you know, there's a part of you that feels that you'd like to more performance in, you know, in with with some of the rage or some of the kind of frustration that might be within some of your poetry.
Yes, great question. And I am always very, very nervous before kind of poetry readings, and I guess everyone is, actually I've found that I really, really enjoy it, I find that it's part of the kind of process that kind of brings it to life maybe a little bit and makes it very, it almost sends out into the world, I guess, is what I'm trying to say. I haven't really found a problem with kind of connecting with an audience online. But that's probably because I've not had the experience of it the opportunity for some time to actually perform in front of in front of people. And I very much, you know, a very much like to do that at some point, you know, when when that opportunity arises. And, but I really, I really enjoy it. In fact, sometimes I feel like, I feel like I'm I don't feel like I'm sharing because like, I almost get absorbed in kind of what I'm reading and you know, and I want it to be a good, I want it to be a good performance, I want to get across the meaning of what I'm trying to say, which is, you know, I think I'm I think I'm okay at kind of reading and yeah, I enjoy it. I feel like a great sense of almost like, you know, a sense of whether it's catharsis or, you know, a sense of release, I guess, you know, afterwards. And it's weird. I never kind of thought I would really enjoy that side of it as much as I do that. But now I really do.
That's interesting. And, you know, with having done more readings, do you do you find that has altered your writing of the poetry, are you I mean, obviously, we're always told as poets to always read them out loud, you know, before but to sort of, as part of the, you know, finessing process. But do you have that more in mind in terms of how might I read this poem? Or how does that sort of shape the way that you're writing it?
Definitely, I I find that as I read it, I read out loud and edit at the same time, like I don't I don't have you know, books full of notes I pretty much do everything either you know, on a phone or you know, a laptop and I think it is super important to to kind of read it out loud. And kind of that just helps me to just pick up on the little bits that don't sit quite right the bits that that maybe jar a little bit and and that. Yeah, kind of reading it out loud and editing as I go along kind of helps me to shape that a little bit, I think, I think that's really important as part of the editing process.
And I wondered if you've got any tips, perhaps for sort of emerging poets that perhaps haven't ever done a performance before, I'm sure we will have some that listening to our podcast, because because when I've heard you read, you don't seem at all nervous, you seem incredibly calm. And really like, in flow, if that makes sense. You know, if it does feel as though you're really you're not, you're not really focusing on the the audience, the listeners, you're really immersed in the, in the poetry. And that's not to the detriment of people that are listening, because actually, I think that's, you know, that that adds to the enjoyment because you feel fully absorbed in what you're saying. Which is great. You know, it's one of the things that I particularly admire about about your work. So I wondered if you've got perhaps tips you can share or things that you you work well for you, or perhaps just some advice for people that have not done that yet, and would be keen to know how best to start.
So I would, I would just say, practice. Make yourself slow down, like make yourself deliberately slow down. And I think that reading poetry you have to concentrate on, on how you sound like and when you're reading a poem out loud, you may think you're being quite expressive, but actually, when you listen to a recording of it, you can sound quite, it can sound quite flat. I've done this, like, I've done this myself, plenty of times, like I've recorded myself reading a poem, and then I listen to it back and like, that just doesn't quite have the right level of kind of volume or pauses. See, it's, I would say, practic, you know, maybe self read slowly, but put full force into it. You know, make yourself you know, really believe the words that you're saying. And think about different, you know, think about how you're going to get that across. So, you know, think about how it sounds. So where they need to emphasize certain words, emphasize, if you need to go up in pitch, if you need to pause, just just by practice, record yourself, listen to yourself back. That's, that's how I've been able to kind of do it really is just listening to myself and thinking, that I hate sound of my voice. And, you know, just to kind of try and improve it that way.
Yeah, no, that sounds like a good good advice. And I think you're right, in terms of the emphasis. You know, it can be, it can be lost, if it's, you know, where you want it to be on the page. But unless you sort of emphasize that, I guess in the reading, it can be it can be lost. So if that sounds good, thank you for that. And as we've talked about reading poetry for a little bit now, would you would you like to read some of your poetry to us, it'd be fantastic to hear it.
Sure. So I will read a couple of poems. And both of them are going to be in my pamphlet, which is out in December, which is called water bearer, which will be out on on broken sleep books. And this first one is called preservative. And this is about it's actually about my stepmother, and also kind of the house where my father used to live. And just how difficult I found, found it to kind of go back there.
(POEM) The village could steal his voice, he found observing where they hoisted up the warm vessel that his old man had used to float in your hard to talk to, she said, Never looking inside his mouth, or knowing that when it got snatched, that it bobbed quietly in the adder jar, the formaldehyde suspended on a windowsill just two minutes flight from where she always slept. We knocked the serpent dead from the sky. And they all knew what was born from Brora. His voice slipped back non venomously which he wasn't there, and still didn't ask the right questions.
This next one that I'll read, I'm going to read is called engineering self worth. And this is about starting to realize that you can transcend the things that you thought you were a sensitive kind of the sense of self that that you might have, but it's very much attached to, again, things that are passed down to you by parents and that actually you can become more and this poem is called engineering self worth.
(POEM) How can the mirror know itself Like a door knows itself, with its letting in and out. Well, that sense of self felt in the growing bones. A cracked mirror is duplication is judgment, silverbacked, the veneer of my mother's earrings. My father's confinement to his shadow chair a knife swung like a kite to stab the earth. The time to become something or misalignment, his droning voice, his mind, an understanding of sketches, my outline a scribbling, like trees, scratched on paper, abstractly, only fair to mirrors, maybe, but they infer the scratch of self freely undone, like Mars screams war, but isn't on killing an unloaded gun with talks. There are no answers in mirrors, they do not know to look up, or the crow Knight fled of what it is to be unvaried an orienteer. Explore fair lead instead. True North. I will not bow to you. Night.
Oh, thank you, Stuart, those those were wonderful, really privileged to hear those. That that last one was incredibly powerful imagery. And then in the was it perseverance the first one? Some wonderful words in there. So so thank you so much for reading those. So those are both out with in water bearer, which is coming out with broken sleep books in December. Is that right? Yeah. Fantastic. So what else are you working on at the moment? So I imagine that you probably wrote those a while ago, and that you've written all sorts of things and busy with other projects since. So, what's what's happening in the moment or anything else that you've got coming up this year?
Yes. So I wrote water bearer last year. Well actually kind of finished finished editing january, february time. And apart from that, I've just been writing and writing, writing. And I have some poems coming out. I've got a poem coming out in the nine pens spotlight anthology. And I've got poem coming out in the sixth press anthology as well, crooked jukebox anthology. And aside from that, I'm, I'm currently writing a full collection. So trying to put together a full collection. And I have a about, currently, just just short of thirty poems, so I'm just writing and writing, writing, and then I'll edit and and try and chop it up into something something good. Hopefully.
Yeah, yeah. Well, that's a big piece of work. And is that particularly themed? Or is it sort of similar kind of themes that you've that you've explored before?
So there's definitely I mean, what's been interesting, there's definitely been some themes coming through, it's very much more about, about masculinity, and it's about ideas of masculinity. And it is, it covers everything from kind of, you know, sense of identity, through to sexuality, through to recovery, from, from abuse, through to feelings about work, feelings, about, you know, male, kind of male identity and career, if you want to call it that. A whole range of things. So yeah, they're, they're the kind of the key things, but it's, it's, it's coming out. The themes are definitely starting to come through around definitely around self identity and what it what it means to be, you know, to be a man, and kind of, you know, what it means, you know, what is masculinity? What is it? What does that actually mean? That's definitely coming through.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, that sounds that sounds fantastic. And I, you know, hope we get to see that and put it on a bookshelf, you know, soon. I mean, you mentioned right at the beginning that you and you said it almost in a dismissive way that you write sort of confessional poetry. And I'm putting inverted commas around that. Because it is a sort of term that's often used in a derogatory way, as if, you know, this is just how people, you know, as if it's a diary, or it's just a way to express one's feelings, and it is those things, but obviously, it's so much more when there's this artistry to it. Do you do you find, you know, with with the sort of themes that you're writing, and when you're working on this collection, that a lot of this stuff is sort of coming up in a subconscious way. And then it's only when you've written the poem that you look back and think, oh, that's interesting. I didn't know why I was feeling that or you know, I wasn't aware that that was something that was still an issue for me or still of interest.
Definitely. I mean, I mean that that, that happens nearly all the time. And I start with a general idea or a general theme, but then as a writer, it either will become something else, or when I read it back, I realized that I've put things into it that I didn't expect. And then when I kind of compare them against poems, those things are also still there. And that's kind of how it's interesting kind of how the themes have come through almost unconsciously through the, through the collection. And, yeah, it's interesting, what you say about confessional poet, like confessional poetry, and I don't, perhaps not a massive fan of that term, actually. Even though I kind of said it, you know, at the very beginning, but, you know, I've seen, I've seen quite a bit of, I think it gets a bit of a bit of backlash, and I think that there's almost a, a bit of a reaction to some more kind of emotional or personal poetry that is that maybe, you know, shouldn't be so personal, you shouldn't be, shouldn't be so, you know, kind of revealing or you shouldn't be so emotive. And I think that that is because I don't well, I don't know, I think it's, you know, it's this, it's, it's up for debate, I think some people don't want to look at it. And I totally understand that. I think it for some people, it may be too much in that they, you know, they just they kind of find that level of expression a bit much. And, but I also think that maybe there is there is some, you know, there's the it can exist, that people want to express themselves more, but feel that they can't. And I think that's why maybe it may be gets that kind of reaction sometimes, I could be, of course, completely wrong, but that is kind of the sense that I get.
No, I know what you mean. And I think one of the beauty of, you know, of poetry is that, you know, it does take so many different forms and shapes and styles that it can be used, you know, as you were saying earlier, as just a means of expression. And, and in terms of encouraging young people, particularly young men, you know, young boys to use poetry as a way of expressing, you know, what were their feelings, then it's of incredible value, but it may not have artistry to it in the way that sort of certain people might judge that. But then you have to wonder whether that matters. And if people want to read poetry of a particular craft, then they can choose to read that kind of poetry, if people kind of like to read raw confessional poetry, because perhaps it also speaks to their experience, then that's there, too. And I think I think, you know, I think there's the space for all of it. And it's really just a question of, you know, what, what floats your boat, you know, what it is that you want to write? Or what you want to read, but you're right, it is something that can be dismissed, you know, can be frowned upon is not sort of seen as being, you know, proper, proper poetry, but I think for its value for the writer, you know, particularly if they're starting out as a writer, or they're using poetry as a means of expression, then, of course, that can be very valuable, I think.
Yeah, no, I agree. And I think what I think needs to go along with that conversation, I mean, obviously, craft is, is is important, but it's not everything. It's not everything. And I think like things that probably need to be spoken bit more spoken more about is around kind of ethics, and how to present something that is personal in an ethical way, and in a way that you know, exploring different ways that can still you can still get your point across but perhaps not be so completely, not completely obvious, but kind of challenge the reader a little bit more, present your ideas and you know, in a few different ways in different formats, and to kind of really fully explore the, the breadth of you know, what it what it can really be and, you know, poetry, I think, doesn't have any rules shouldn't really obviously, the course there are rules within certain know, certain forms, but as a whole, I see it as something that is that should be completely free and, you know, individual poetry, should income, you know, can take many different forms, all of which have their have their place. But I do think like ethics is an important point. I think that yeah, I think freedom of expression is really important, ethics, freedom, freedom of expression, and you know, how to put your thoughts and words and feelings in a way that might not be so straightforward. That is maybe a little bit more thought provoking or challenging. I think those things are important things to kind of talk about.
Yeah, yeah. And, and something that you succeed in doing, I think, you know, very well in your, in your own poetry. And and in some ways it's, it's good that that sort of poetry is out there because it does make us ask these questions. It's particularly because this sort of vulnerability or fragility, with with it with men is not often heard or read or seen. So it's, it's important, and I suppose that's where we see art forms, often leading a kind of cultural discussion. Because it's in it's in whatever art form where these things are expressed, that you perhaps wouldn't normally find in society. So, you know, you're doing a public service as well, I think as well as writing fantastic poetry.
I just want to ask you, because we're sort of starting to run out of time, I'm afraid. I feel like we could talk all night about stuff. But I want to ask you about your, your sort of your favorite poets or writers, you mentioned again, at the beginning, that you were reading everything and anything at the moment and you know, what are some of your favorites that you go to for inspiration?
Okay. I've got so many, I mean, I'm a huge fan of I'm a big Ted Hughes fan. I love love Crow by Ted Hughes. I am a huge Frank Stanford fan. I think he's one of the most underrated poets, and it doesn't get talked about too much, but he's absolutely incredible. I love Serge. I like there's so many so much stuff out on broken sleep that I just and that's why I think, you know, I love broken sleep because they put out such a diverse range of poetry. And like I love Café Kaput
by Barney Ashton-Bullock. I love everything. I love Jane Kenyon. I love Anne Sexton. I love Anne Carson. I, there's there's so many I love Penelope Shuttle. There's just this there's so many like, I enjoy such a broad range of kind of styles. There's I can't you know, I just I love to soak it all up like today I've been reading Geraldine Clarkson. Monica's Overcoat of Flesh which I think is like, I mean, that's like, for me is sort of expert level poetry. You know that style. I read that. I think that how, how did you write this? Yeah. But there's, there's so much stuff. I, you know, I've got my knowledge of kind of poetry's is fairly, it's still me, I'm still learning so much. That's why I'm kind of I still read a lot of fairly contemporary poets and writers. It's, you know, Ted Hughes is probably maybe one of the furthest kind of, you know, that I go back, Sylvia Plath kind of after, you know, kind of after that, I don't have that much poetry. I don't have that much poetry. So.
Yeah, yeah. Wonderful. And what's your what I suppose what's your sort of writing practice, like, you know, on a day to day basis, or a week basis, because I understand you've got a family and a job to juggle as well. It must feel like a constant frustration that you can't spend all your time writing? Or are you able to slip between the two or a line comes to you and you jot it down? Or how does that how does that work for you?
I think if I was to actually sit down for dedicated writing time, I don't think it would happen. And it for me, it just happens. It just it just happens when it happens. And usually I have to jot something down very quickly, like on my phone, I jot the idea down or the bare bones a bit. And usually, what I find is when I've got the first line, then the rest of it just kind of happens. I never write any I don't like I say don't have notebooks full of pages and pages of writing. It just I get the first couple of lines and then it just then it will happen. And then what I'll do is is I'll leave it look at it in the morning, come back to the next day. I you know kind of maybe have to grab the odd 30 minutes here and there like before work after work, you know, when my daughter has gone to bed just you know to kind of to, to write and it's what I find is, its usually once that once it starts to happen, I then have to do it it kind of all has to get written. So what I might spend two or three days with, almost like the idea in my head, but unable to properly express it, but then suddenly a couple lines will come to me and it'll all just all just kind of come out. And when that happens, I kind of can't do anything else. And everything else has to wait. Which can be annoying for my family but that is just how it has to happen, and then I you know, just come back and edit and edit and edit. And sometimes, sometimes it can become, you know, sometimes I'll put a poem into three or four different forms before it makes sense. Sometimes it gets completely rewritten as part of the editing process. Yeah, I don't think that's that's kind of my, my approach to it. I don't have a set, kind of I'm going to sit and write for an hour I'd probably sit and nothing would happen.
Yeah. Yeah. Oh, that's fascinating, well you've found a process that works for you, I guess. And then, you know, we have to sort of fit it into our other lives. And I guess the, you know, the idea comes and it sort of gestates for a few days, and then When, when, when it's ready, and it's ripe, you know, it needs to come out. So. So it sounds like a good process is obviously working well, well, for you. Stuart it has been absolutely fascinating and really inspiring, I say from a personal point of view talking talking to you. So thank you so much for your time, and and for coming onto the podcast. For people that are listening that want to find out more about you. Where Where would be the best place for them to go. I know you have a website, but perhaps also, where would you recommend as a good reading, start for your work and to get to know your work?
I would say I mean, Twitter's probably the best place to find me. And my website has links to all poems that I've kind of had published, that are online anyway, that's probably a good place to start. And, unfortunately, what this is, this is a good problem to have, but my legitimate snack sold out which was, which was pretty unreal. And I believe that will end up in a legitimate snack anthology at some point. And then yeah, my pamphlet will be out in December time. So yeah, if my website is it's theeabsentee.com, but yet go to Twitter and I'm usually on there.
Which is also theeabsentee isn't it? You're on on Twitter, right? Yeah, yep. So okay, just don't don't look for Stuart MacPherson. Look for theeabsenteeand I see you've got links to some of your published work from from the website. So So yes, people check check check that out because was because Stuart's doing something quite special. Thank you again, for joining us. It's been fantastic to talk to you. I really appreciate your time and talking us through your your writing journey, your your history, and you know what you're working on now. So it's been fantastic. Thank you.
Thank you so much for having me. Yeah, it's been a pleasure. I love I love the podcast and great to meet you and great to talk to you. Thank you so much.
What a fabulous chat that was. So fascinating hearing about writing and writing processes, especially from writers that myself and JP really admire. I really love Stuart's work, a fantastic writer. So it's always great to be able to chat to people, you so are an in awe of.
So before we go on to our newsblast, I wanted to share a tweet that we tweeted out, which was 'what does writing do for you?' And the responses were phenomenal. I couldn't believe the things people were saying and the things that writing did for them. So I really highly recommend you check in your thread because these answers. I thought I just read a few of them out. So Nabeela says 'Poetry clears my head and shows me the path; fiction gives me the insight into things I didn't know I knew.' John says 'Helps realign my gray matter.' Victoria says 'makes life more fun'. Rob says 'serotonin rush' Talha says 'It heals me and helps me to understand my emotions.
' Tanisha says 'It shows me what my younger self couldn't see: A confident, creative, eloquent, intelligent girl.' Jeni says 'Allows me to get out all the fleeting thoughts in my brain
'. Amanda says 'it sustains me'. Nikki says 'it helps me process the world.' Nadja says 'Puts me in the “zone” and if I produce something I feel good about—completes me. That is until the next inspiration arrives and consumes my mind.' Hannah says 'Writing lets me be outspoken, angry, spikey, vulnerable...all the things I find it difficult to bring to 'real life'. Kinneson says 'I get to be alone but also get to hang out with people I really like with flaws I can relate to (because they are imaginary and I made them up).' Laura says 'Allows me to make sense of what I'm feeling about myself, my situation and people/situations around me.' Sasha says, 'It allows me to outlive myself. Letters can only function if they function in my absence, which is to say after my death - which is to say, I'm dead, and yet alive beyond my death, while and to the extent that I write them.' Malcolm says 'nothing but i feel intense searing emotional pain if i don't do it so here we are'. Samuel says, 'It allows me to talk with the voice, not necessarily of who I am, but of who I am always trying to become.' So they're just some of the amazing responses we've got to that question and absolutely fascinating. Everyone's take on this so interesting, highly recommend you listen to those.
Unknown Speaker 1:35:32
And now we're just going to round off with our newsblast. So this newsblast is a short one, just a few important bits or things we felt were important to shout out. So a massive congratulations to broken sleep books. Their anthology crossing lines an anthology of immigrant poetry and Adrian B. Earle's 'We Are Always & Forever Ending' have been selected for inclusion in @PoetryDayUK ’s Recommended Poetry Books 2021. Massive congratulations to J archer Avery on the launch of the dog sitter. Broken sleep have a submission call for nonfiction prose submissions up to 70 pages in length. You can get tickets to the launch of Aaron Kent's fantastic collection coming out on the fourth of August, and the collection angels the size of houses. So definitely check out that launch reading, it is going to be fantastic. Streetcake are having a fantastic raffle. And this is to support the entry removal fee for that prize. So there are some fantastic prizes up for grabs. Definitely go over and check it out. Three pound equals one entry with the chance of winning some really really awesome prizes. Rachel Deering is giving away a free copy of their book. So if you like retweet and add a comment, they will choose a winner and you'll get a postcard and press flowers along with that. Poetry Birminham literary have their new issue out so definitely go check that out. It's a gorgeous cover. Miniskirt mag will have subside from from July 10 to July 31. Superfroot will have one week until their submissions for nostalgia open. Congratulations to Jessica Wang has been chosen as apprentice writers outstanding nonfiction writer really awesome fantastic news. Well done. Mumwrite are having a fantastic book marketing for busy mums course. R. Ruvinsky is running a competition a poetry competition for charity. So definitely go check that out. Colin Bancroft ,congratulations. Colin's pamphlet of poems will be published with broken sleep. Also massive congratulations to Lucy home Roberts and Samuel Tongue on their broken sleep acceptances. Osmosis Press' mortar is up now so you can order that it's a limited edition of 100 copies so go over and get that while you can. Beir Bua are doing some fantastic series interview series is at the moment and with a wide variety of different writers and it's a fantastic read so go over and check them out. Uncanny magazine is seeking a new nonfiction editors applications will close on 19th of July. Long leaf review have a new editor so congratulations. And that's to Stephanie. Happy publication date to be BF Jones on the amazing work artifice. And lastly in the broken sleep news. The wonderful Richard Capener has the preorder out for his fantastic work it is absolutely it's gonna be amazing. You don't want to miss this. Go over and preorder well done Richard can't wait to read it. If you ever want us to read out anything or promote anything, do let us know. Ideally on Thursdays. We do podcasts every two weeks. So any Thursday's fine and we can add that to our next newsblast. We'd love to share any of your achievements. We share what we can but we'd love to share even more about the fantastic things that people are doing. And well done everyone who's been published or been accepted or even just wrote anything recently. That is it from us this week at Full House but we look forward to seeing you next time.