With me today is Callum McLaughlin, author of The Vessel, False Awakening, and Seeking Solace. He’s graciously agreed to talk poetry with me, and I hope you’ll have as much fun reading about his work as I did. 🙂
KK: So, how long have you been writing poetry?
CM: I’ve been writing in virtually every capacity since childhood. My earliest memory specifically associated with poetry is when I won a school competition aged 10 and I’ve been interested in the art form ever since. The poems included in Seeking Solace were written throughout the last couple of years, which is when I’d say I started really taking it seriously and falling more and more in love with it.
KK: We have something in common there – I wrote my first poem at age ten for a summer homework assignment. 🙂 What got you interested in poetry?
CM: An interest definitely lingered ever since that aforementioned competition – I loved reading the poetry book I received as a prize as well as several gifted to me by my grandparents. My appreciation for it was piqued in my last couple of years at high school, when I was lucky enough to have a wonderful English teacher. In the years following, I increasingly began to experiment with creating my own poems.
KK: Again, sounds familiar. 🙂 How long does it usually take you to write a poem?
CM: I almost always try to write a poem somewhat quickly and in one sitting. I see them very much as a snapshot of a very specific thought, feeling or moment in time and so try to just let the words flow. I’ll return to it a day or so later with a fresh mind to make any necessary tweaks without disrupting the original essence.
KK: I’m the same way, though I don’t always go back and revise (my latest project being an exception). Who are some of your favorite poets?
CM: I love the work of e.e. cummings, Carol Ann Duffy, Edgar Allan Poe and Emily Dickinson, amongst others.
KK: Ah, Poe. He’s one of my favorites, too. Do you have a favorite poem?
CM: My absolute favorite poem is Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep by Mary Elizabeth Frye. It’s a masterclass in less-is-more and the sheer beauty in simplicity.
KK: I don’t think I’ve read that one – I’ll have to check it out. What are some of your favorite styles of poetry?
CM: I’ve been getting really into Haikus recently – I love the short, powerful punch of clear imagery. I’m also a big fan of free verse, where you aren’t restricted in any way structurally and can allow the natural flow to dictate.
KK: Aren’t haikus fun? They’re a challenge to write at first, but that’s part of what appeals to me about them. A lot of people seem to be intrigued by them, particularly on Twitter. What do you think of the micropoetry trend on Twitter?
CM: I don’t post micropoems on twitter myself but do see a lot of them pop up and have enjoyed reading them. If it introduces people who would perhaps otherwise not see much poetry to more examples of the form, then I think that can only be considered a good thing. It’s surprisingly skillful to compose a poem coherent enough to make its point in such few words and I think it can be a fun way to brighten up a twitter feed.
KK: I agree. 🙂 What advice would you give someone interested in taking up poetry?
CM: Go for it! The beauty of poetry is that there really are no rules and you can express yourself in whatever manner seems fit. I honestly believe that everyone should write in some form (be it poetry or otherwise) as it’s a fantastic way to help us understand and process our innermost thoughts.
I think Rita Dove said it best: “Poetry is language at its most distilled and most powerful.”
KK: That is a brilliant quote, and so very true!
I’d like to thank Callum for letting me pick his brain a bit. Don’t forget to check out Seeking Solace, and while you’re at it, maybe have a peek at The Vessel and False Awakening as well. Happy Tuesday! 🙂
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