Saturday, May 22, 2004

A to a Q

What started me writing again? The simplistic answer is that the trigger was the letter from Michele Leggott asking if she could "rummage through the past" when she & her co-editors were in the preliminary stages of assembling Big Smoke. But another fact was that despite everything I've said above I was still writing. Mostly work-related or university assignments, but in amongst it all was some poetry. Much of it chicken-claw scratchings but amongst it pieces such as Backtracking in the Early Nineties which dates itself internally from the time of the (later-given) title.

What Michele did was transfuse me with her enthusiasm for the project & I started going through the carry-bag (which by now had been transferred to a grey document box) to search out poems which she probably would not have seen. Because of their state - flimsy, often carbon copies (remember them?), stained with coffee & smoke from the bottoms of spoons, scarred by cigarette burns - I started copying them onto the PC so there would be a clean collection for her. The copying out became a reappraisal; & I discovered that not only could I remember most of the poems but there were some pretty good ones amongst them. I also found the confidence to polish up some I thought needed it. A couple of the poems in The right foot of the giant are almost complete rewritings. In the subsequent toing & froing with Michele &, later, Alan Brunton, my enthusiasm built; jottings for new poems pushed through to the surface or were absorbed from earlier notes; Right foot came out, published by Alan's Bumper Books; & by the time the launch of Big Smoke happened there were some new poems to accompany it.

But still not easy. The poem Nemesis or: Painting by Numbers covers some of the arid ground I found when trying to bridge the years of silence. 2001 was a year of rejection slips. & depression. Could I really write or was I deluding myself? The reviews of Big Smoke & Right foot were favourable to me, but that was the past catching up. & a lot of what I was currently writing I wasn't very happy with, felt that I was still facing backwards & trying to reel in / live off the past while the present charged towards the future behind me. But at least I was still writing. & at last the breakthrough came with Lunch in Glebe which although it talked about the past did so in a way that led towards the future.

The above is an extract from a Q&A with Martin Edmond, due to be published online in the next couple of months by the New Zealand electronic poetry centre - side bar - & in print by brief, a journal edited by Jack Ross & published by the Writers Group, 6A Hastings Road, Mairangi Bay, Auckland 1311, New Zealand. Subscription for three issues is $NZ65. At current exchange rates that's around $US40. I have an email address for brief which rather than publish here & spamattract I can pass on to anyone that contacts me.

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