Read about his experiences, inspiration and the airing of his poem ‘Why Guns Will Never Be Legal in England’ on Radio 4′s Poetry Please on 3 October.
1. What experience prompted you to realise that you wanted to be a poet?
It is a myriad of experiences, often rich, harsh, funny and sad. I doubt I will ever be able to explore fully all the experiences that made me a poet or gave me a real love of words. I was produced by a world now gone; back ginnels, shops that served brawn butties, temperance, juke boxes and cigarette smoke, women fresh faced from the dying mills, mouthing their dying gossip, arms as red as their faces as they leant over walls telling their neighbours about their problems and joys. Even when I grew up in this, there was a sense that this was coming to an end and I think these fading images made me a poet. I was fortunate to have an English teacher who saw that I had a love of these images, and she introduced me to Samuel Taylor Coleridge and The Romantics; I was lost from there in. I look for the world beyond this one, the hidden images, and the fantastical in the everyday. Everyone sees the world differently, I am just fortunate that I can sometimes put this into words that others want to read. You can view more of what I do at www.andrewoldham.co.uk
2. As a writer and poet what inspires you about living in the Pennines? And would you ever move?
No, I would never move from the Pennines. I now live a thousand feet above sea level. It is the highest I have ever lived and I love it. Weather doesn’t just happen here; it cuts through the hill I live on. If we have mist, it’s raining down in the valley. I could never live in a valley again, it’s like being a fish that is a bottom feeder in a silting river; you can’t see the horizon. It gives me a hemmed in feeling. I had that feeling when I have lived in cities. People need the space to stretch their arms and city living is just unhealthy.
3. What do you like writing about the most? And can you tell us about the poem that will be covered on Radio 4′s Poetry Please.
I have been told that I write about loss and love. I have been compared to Dylan Thomas by some critics and poets. This makes me smile, it is always nice to be told what I write like, or who I write like but most days I sit at my desk turn to my notebook and tackle ideas, images that I have collected. I like to write through a character’s voice, allow them to tell their stories. This is the power of voice and harks back to the ruddy raw voices of my childhood. Writing is easy, everyone can write but real writers edit, we take a long time over how we structure a sentence or an image. We have one chance to be clear, concise and capture a reader.
The poem that will be on Radio 4 is ‘Why Guns Will Never Be Legal in England’ and it responds to a Billy Collins poem. It deals with my hatred of the growing trend of barbeques. Barbeques can be fun but when neighbours do it everyday it becomes the everyday. Really, most barbeques result in food poisoning, arguments and hedges on fire. I don’t want to smell what my neighbour is cooking everyday or hear why they hate each other. I love silence, I love the landscape I live in and most people never look, never stop, never stare, they’re too busy rushing around, barbequing bad meat, smoking out their neighbours and setting fire to their washing line. This is what the poem is about and it features in Best of Manchester Poets: Vol 1 (Puppywolf) and in my collection Ghosts of a Low Moon (Lapwing, Belfast 2010).
4. You set up Incwriters many years ago. Can you tell us a bit more about it.
Incwriters (International Network & Community of Writers Society) was founded in 2004 by myself, William Park, Bixby Monk and Ian Parks, created initially as Inc. in 2002-2003 by myself it has grown into the one stop website for Promoters, Agents, Publishers, Readers and Writers. Incwriters creates networks, protects Literature (of all genres), promotes writing, publishing and reading. Incwriters promotes individuals and organisations not involved in vanity publishing. Incwriters is actively involved in visiting venues and festivals providing talks, workshops and panels on Publishing, Writing and Reading. Incwriters Patrons are the novelist Janice Galloway, the poets, Esther Morgan and Clare Pollard. We have 40,000+ readers a year, you can see more at www.incwriters.co.uk
5. Finally, what is your favourite view of the area?
My favourite view from my meadow office is this: