Beats! Ballads! Blank Verse! #3
From Long Ago
Poet: Paul Woodward
DEMAIN is proud to announce that on the 29th May 2020 we will be releasing the third ebook in our poetry series, Beats! Ballads! Blank Verse! Perhaps a slight departure for a ‘horror publisher’ but we’re nothing except eclectic here…the third release in the series is From Long Ago by Paul Woodward.
The key to this collection of poetry lies in the title: From Long Ago which works as a theme. The poems explore age-old concerns, often articulated through myth and legend but importantly how it is now. How it was once is brought up to date. The references are accessible and mediated with the issues of love and longing. Some of these poems can be seen as concentrated stories. And details lie in familiar locations, coastal liminal zones are frequent and on the edge of here and there. The future, the past and the present in an immediate array. Places in Cornwall and Birmingham are explicit and named and recognisable but still speak a universal truth. The understanding between lines and spaces between words move on.
Paul Woodward Talks To Demain Publishing
(Originally featured on the Demain Publishing Blog 6th May 2020 HERE)
DEMAIN PUBLISHING: Hello Paul, let’s get straight down to it – what poets did you read as a child.
PAUL WOODWARD: Hi. I’d like to say for me that poetry as a child was songs. Songs that were sung and recited. The Yellow Submarine by The Beatles I can particularly remember. Another one was If I Had a Hammer, although I can’t remember who that was by [probably Pete Seeger – he wrote the song anyway with Lee Hays] but it was very inspiring. And later as a teenager I loved Chaucer’s Prologue to the Canterbury Tales and would read it out loud.
DP: Ah, we did the Prologue at school and it was very inspiring. I know there’s been a couple of attempts in the past but perhaps now is the right time for a film/film series based on the Canterbury Tales – we will have to give that more thought. In terms of writing poetry Paul, do you find it energises or exhausts you?
PW: It definitely energises me. The sense of achievement when finishing a poem, a little final breath that it’s all over and complete. A lovely feeling. Although sometimes, if I’m honest, rehearsing for live performances can be exhausting, my throat can go dry and be afraid I might lose my voice. But fortunately that sort of thing doesn’t last very long.
DP: Glad to hear it, do you have to do much research?
PW: Not really. An idea starts with something I already know, and hopefully understand. I prefer not to structure ideas in poetry, but give structure to the lines and the cadence of the voice. As much as I am able of course.
DP: I’m interested now in how your poems develop. Do you have a particular writing method? Do you show them to anyone as you draft?
PW: My poems generally develop from the germ of an idea and maybe a single phrase which I repeat to myself until more words come. Occasionally I will write something down on a scrap of paper or increasingly these days a note to myself on a smartphone before then going to the computer to type. At that point the poem will write quite quickly, and then later edited and tweaked. I can only show a poem once it’s complete, or I think it’s complete. And then I have to read it out loud to myself. And ideally read it out loud to other people, and then I can test what works and what doesn’t.
DP: A good method. You mentioned live performances earlier, do you enjoy promoting your poetry and getting out there and meeting your readers?
PW: Yes. It’s lovely when people clap after I’ve read out loud. It feels like an achievement for want of a better way to describe.
DP: What would you say is the best experience you’ve had through your poetry?
PW: On a variety show once I had a 20-minute spot and I was the last one on before the headliners who were a musical act. When I finished and sat at the back behind the red velvet curtains the crowd shouted for more. It gave me butterflies in my stomach, or did my stomach lurch? A truly wonderful experience.
DP: Sounds exhilarating. Would you say poetry can save the world?
PW: No. Only people can. But poetry can provide some signposts along the way.
DP: With regards to poetry as a form, would you say that the internet (and social media) is destroying it or helping it thrive?
PW: I’m going to answer that with a stock phrase, which isn’t something I’ve thought of myself, but found: “They said if you give 24 monkeys a typewriter each they will eventually reproduce the complete works of Shakespeare.” Another bright spark replied, “With billions of people on Facebook that’s proved to be wrong.”
DP: And finally Paul, should every poem mean something or can they just be enjoyed for their words or language?
PW: I think definitely every poem should mean something and the words, the language, are the vehicle which carries the meaning. One of the French philosophers Saussure, I think, correct me if I’m wrong, argued that words and language were only symbols or signposts that point towards a shared understanding [that is more or less correct and many thanks for mentioning him!].
DP: Thank you Paul for your time. Stay safe during the “lockdown” and see you hopefully on the other side. Best of luck with your B!B!B!
Paul Woodward studied English at St David’s University College of Lampeter in Wales. In his early days he started writing poetry and then began doing performances at various venues large and small. He became known as the bard of Lampeter. He spent many years working in the library and served on the selection panel for the Birmingham Poet Laureate. Writing since the days of pencil and paper, chasing patterns in the clouds and strange new ideas, Paul hopes to find a computer that will write the stories for him. Now working on novels, he explores the genres of literary, science fiction, fantasy, and horror. His first novel Odyssey of the Black Turtle is due out in paperback soon. He has completed a second novel and has already started work on a 3rd.