When I’m not sure what to get someone for a birthday present I normally get them a Mark Waldron poetry book, because what’s not to like!? Do you ever write poems as gifts for people?
I've never written a poem as a gift. Now I feel mean! I have written commissioned poems but they're not gifts exactly. Oh dear.
You have a background in advertising as a copywriter. I bet there are so many - but is there a particular campaign you worked on that you really, really enjoyed?
It's hard to say which campaign I most enjoyed working on. They've mostly been fun, though no matter how much I might have enjoyed working on a particular campaign, there's always a degree of trepidation with ads, because you want things to come out the same as, or better than, the idea was when it first existed - when it existed solely in you head. There's an element of having to trust other people. With poetry you don't have to do that. Or at least you only have to trust the reader.
How you feel about the world of advertising and has this had an impact on the poetry you write?
I think maybe advertising made me very conscious of what some people in the business call 'cut-through'. If what you produce is quiet no one listens. I don't mean literally quiet though. It's possible to get cut through by being very quiet indeed.
Your poems have such detail and are very direct, mixed with the surreal. How would you personally describe your poetry.
Sometimes I meet people and they go "oh you're a poet, what are your poems like?" and I never know what to say. I do try to be direct in a way, but I also try to be transparently not direct (indirect?) at other times so that I can be seen through. That sounds like nonsense but it's not. I want to hide so badly that I can be found.
Who or what inspires you?
Art inspires me more than poetry. Martin Kippenberger, Anselm Kiefer, Thomas Schütte and many, many others, most of them German for some reason.
Do you ever observe a ‘thing’ like cutlery or an iron beef and the poem presents itself? Or are the objects and things always deliberate metaphors?
Poems don't often present themselves as I'm observing a thing, though they do sometimes. Someone once said to me "is such and such poem you wrote a metaphor?" and I thought, well it's not consciously but in a way everything is a metaphor. The human mind is a machine that constantly relates things to other things in an effort to explain the world.
What books do you have by your bed?
On the top of the pile by my bed is a book I bought last week called Hat on a Pond by a great American poet Dara Wier. She's annoyingly good. Underneath that is Wuthering Heights, and underneath that a poetry pamphlet by Omikemi Natacha Bryan called If I Talked Everything My Eyes Saw. I saw her read last week and persuaded her to part with the copy she read from. Her work is extraordinarily powerful I think.
Did you have a book read to you when you were younger or is there one in particular that left an influence?
It's so hard to know what's influenced you. The Waves by Virginia Woolf made me want to write though.
Can you describe a bedroom of yours from the past?
When I was about 7 I had a pale blue bedroom. There was a crack in the ceiling and I thought the world was so infinitely big that there must be another bedroom somewhere in the world exactly the same shape and size with the same coloured walls and an identical crack in the ceiling. Growing up is discovering the world is limited and you will die.
We like your poem “Rooms” - about how antique furniture can have a forlorn quality and how modern furniture feels more carefree. What’s your bedroom like now?
It's got a 19th century French armoire in it and a 19th century French bed that's broken because my son treats it like a trampoline.
What’s something in your room that has great sentimental value?
Do you ever write in bed and are you a morning or night time person?
I do write in bed. I think I'm a morning and a night time person.
What's is the most unusual place you’ve ever slept?
In an interview you once said that your poems are a bit like your dreams. Could you share a dream with us you’ve had recently?
I'm so bad at remembering them I can't think of one!
What have you been listening to in your room?
I like listening to old episodes of Radio 4's In Our Time, and Poetry Magazine podcasts. I've been obsessed for a week with a youtube clip of Marc Bolan sitting on a stage with an acoustic guitar singing Cosmic Dancer.
What are your dreams of the future?
Mark having a snooze in the shoe shop.....
Best Gifts for Cyclists
Don't settle down for the same old gear for the cycling enthusiasts among your loved ones! The Tracey Neuls Cycling Collection caters to those seeking originality and style on top of tech practicality.