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2011-02-24 | |
Claire Crowther has published her poetry and reviews in a wide variety of journals including the London Review of Books, the Times Literary Supplement, Poetry Wales. Her first collection, Stretch of Closures, was shortlisted for the Aldeburgh best first collection prize in 2007. She has a PhD in Creative Writing.
I.G.: Before we discuss about the poet Claire Crowther tell us a few things about the woman Claire Crowther.
Where were you born? Where did you spend your childhood?
What universities did you attend and why did you choose this career?
Are you married? Do you have children?
Claire Crowther: I was born in a small area of a town called Solihull, in Warwickshire, in the heart of England. The area was called Hobs Moat. I spent my whole childhood there, leaving it only to go to Manchester University (Owens). I studied English there and later studied Creative Writing (MA) at the university of Glamorgan in Wales and completed a PhD at the university of Kingston in Surrey. I first chose social work as a career, then changed to journalism, editing and publishing, finally to poetry. I was a late starter as a poet. I can't explain that, as I wrote poetry extensively at school. But my life experience and my skills in editing have doubtless improved my poetry.
I have been married twice and have two children and two step children.
I.G.: Which were the sources of inspiration for the four writings of poetry that you published? Exactly, which is the central theme of each book or pamphlet you published?
Claire Crowther: The first pamphlet I published, Glass Harmonica, did not have a central theme - it was simply a collection of my best work. I was testing the reaction of readers to my work because some readers on my university course had thought my work was too fragmented. However, the response to that pamphlet was good. My first full collection, Stretch of Closures, was also a collection of my best work though I arranged the poems to go through adolescence, marriage, old age and the future. This is a subtle arrangement, I hope. My second full collection, The Clockwork Gift, is strongly themed. I spent three years researching and writing poems about grandmotherhood - not specific women, it is not a set of biographies, but the experience of being older and independent of your own children and being transformed by the choice of other individuals. Your children do not ask you to become a grandmother - it arrives like a stage of life or like a season. t is complex, therefore, and in some ways very difficult. My second pamphlet, Mollicle, which was published in October 2010, is about the condition of women and is dedicated to my daughters. I also have a pamphlet due for publication in March from Flarestack, which is a set of fatrasies about body fat, an aspect of the body poets have not written much about.
I.G.: What message do you want to transmit to people through your poetry?
Claire Crowther: I certainly have no message that I want to transmit to people through my poetry. I used to be a journalist so I know how to write messages and I am doing something very different with poetry. I am trying to represent the experience of being alive, being a thinking feeling creature. I have set myself to use words and space on the page and, of course, sounds to do this. Readers may pick up messages because a poet cannot escape the limits of her own thought. But the act of making a poem and letting the poem go into its own world in some way does transcend my own conclusions to thought.
I.G.: Which are your favourite authors (poets, novelists etc.)? Why these ones? Which of them influenced your poetry?
Claire Crowther: It is impossible to mention all my favourites. Here are a few from previous generations who have influenced me: Lorine Neidecker, Edward Thomas, Arthur Rimbaud, Hope Mirrlees. Lorine Neidecker profoundly influenced my approach to form, in particular her discipline in cutting so much of her work. Edward Thomas developed a way to express his emotion through descriptions of his environment, mostly pastoral and I want to express and contain emotion in my work. Rimbaud's approach allows the poet to throw out anything that restricts her, I needed that sense of autonomous control. Hope Mirrlees made extraordinary modernist poetry that I think influenced TS Eliot who was her friend.
I.G.: Do you have some poems that are your favourite? What makes them more special to you than the others?
Claire Crowther: I assume you mean favourites from among my own poems. Of course I have many favourites from other poet's work,a huge number. Favourites of my own work would be ' Captured Women' (from Mollicle), Cheval de Frise (from Stretch of Closures), the Virginity of Decay (from the Clockwork Gift). These would not be the most popular with readers, perhaps and I can only say that the delight of making the words work, the joy I feel hearing the music of these poems is why I love them.
I.G.: What significance has the title of your last pamphlet "Mollicle"?
Claire Crowther: Mollicle is a word I made up to mean daughter. The book is dedicated to my daughters. There is a Scottish word, I understand, that means a small thing but this was not in my mind when I wrote the poem. 'Moll' has some background as an American word meaning a woman who is a gangster. Molecule is an essential part of matter and rings of science, the discovered, the imagined-to- be- tested. Molly is an oldfashioned girls' name in English.
I.G. What plans do you have for the future? Do you intend to write more poetry or maybe to try a different literary style?
Claire Crowther: My plans are to continue to write poetry and only poetry though I should hope I will extend the style of poetry a bit. That would be my aim.
I.G. Thank you!
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