Volume 2, No. 1, February 2015
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We are delighted with the response to our journal over the last year, and with the range of excellent contributions coming our way. This issue again shows how readily readers, students and scholars engage with the traditional and popular art of interview, often the very best way to learn more about writers and their craft. The writers can speak directly, without being subject to interpretation or theorising.
We are proud that this issue contains a mixture of writers old and new, established and not yet well-known. The writers featured here are from Canada, Australia, the UK and Bosnia; the chief forms used are novels and poetry although, as the interviews show, each field has infinite flexibility. The interviews, we hope, will prompt readers to try the work of these exciting voices.
Collectively, through the interviews, these writers share some very topical preoccupations; we also learn about the forms they use, who they write for and why they write. We hope you will enjoy reading them as much as we have.Nick Turner and Gillian Dooley, Editors
From Volume 4, no. 1, February 2017 Writers in Conversation will be published in Open Journal Systems and this website will no longer be updated.
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ItemInterview with Canadian Poet and Playwright Henry Beissel( 2015-01-16) Heide Fruth-Sachs ; Henry BeisselOver the past two years Henry Beissel has been invited to more than 20 German (and Polish) universities for readings. He has the ability to make people love demanding literature; in fact the students of the Canadian department in Augsburg spontaneously founded a Henry Beissel-Fan-Club. This summer I organised a reading for him in the small village of Port Mouton, Nova Scotia, Canada, where Henry and his French wife Arlette were our guests for a while. He is also a fine playwright. In September 2014 Tthe Theaterstückverlag in Munich published in September 2014 -his play Doppelgänger (The Noose) which I have translated. His most successful play Inuk and the Sun is translated into more than a dozen languages. Henry himself has translated some famous works of world literature into English, among them the works of Peter Huchel (one of the most important German poets since 1945), Ibsen, Mrozek, Dorst and Sophocles. Other important poetic works by Henry Beissel are Canthos North and Seasons of Blood. His most recent volume of poetry is Fugitive Horizons, where modern science is reflected. He has published more than 20 volumes of poetry, plus a number of plays, which cannot all be mentioned here. In 2013 the University of Toronto founded a grant for young promising young poets, the "Henry Beissel-Scholarship“. Henry's poetry volume Fugitive Horizons was shortlisted for the Ottawa Book Award 2014.
ItemInterview with Jim Crace( 2015-01-16) Jim Crace ; Sameerah MahmoodJim Crace was born in Hertfordshire in 1946 and is the author of 11 novels. This interview took place on 10 July 2013. Before becoming a novelist, he worked as a freelance journalist, and wrote educational plays and a number of short stories between 1968 and 1986. He has won numerous awards and became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1999. His success began when his first book, Continent (1986), won the Whitbread First Novel Award, the Guardian Fiction Prize and the David Higham Prize for Fiction. His most recent novel, Harvest, won him the James Tait Black Prize for fiction. Crace also won a Windham Campbell literature prize in 2014 for his career in fiction writing. Among British contemporary novelists, Jim Crace has made a space for himself which is uniquely his. It is known as ‘Craceland’, a term which describes his gift for setting his novels in mythically oriented landscapes. Crace is not holding a mirror to our real world but rather he is inventing his continent from the real world’s dark corners, worlds of his own making. These worlds are as simple as his description of them, but approaching them will uncover how they conceal universal moral issues of nowhere and everywhere. His fiction is a product of a man who knows the facts; Crace describes his fiction as dealing ‘with big issues, big moral issues, rather than smaller domestic issues’. His inventions ask readers to respond to crucial universal issues rather than simple facts. His interest in natural history is obvious in his fiction, as his interest in walking and travelling inspires him to invent mythical worlds and communities. In this interview, Crace highlights inventions as the core of his fiction, but indicates that he starts with landscapes which he considers the basis for his unlimited re-shaping of his inventions. His Craceland is rendered in a multitude of forms but with the same key words and contents. Indeed, elements of themes, tropes and means of exploring them (archetypes, ambiguity and universal big issues) are present effectively in almost all of his novels. The prototype Craceland can be found in his debut, which marks the starting point for approaching Crace’s first form of mythification, Craceland.
ItemB.S. Johnson and Maureen Duffy: Aspiring Writers: A Conversation with Maureen Duffy( 2015-01-16) Maureen Duffy ; Melanie SeddonMaureen Duffy and B.S. Johnson met at King’s College London in 1956 when they both enrolled to read for a degree in English Literature. They became friends and colleagues through their contributions to Lucifer, the college literary magazine and the wider University of London poetry scene. They later joined forces in the Writer’s Action Group and campaigned for public lending rights for authors. Maureen kindly agreed to be interviewed about her relationship with Johnson, but in addition to this her interview sheds light on the socio-political context of British post-war writing. Maureen was born in 1933 in Worthing, Sussex and came to prominence in 1962 with the autobiographical novel That’s How It Was. Although mainly known for her poetry, her prose work has received critical and popular acclaim. Gor Saga (1981) was dramatised and broadcast by the BBC in 1988 as First Born, a three-part mini-series vehicle for Charles Dance. She is also the author of 16 plays for stage, television and radio. Maureen is well known as a humanist and gay rights activist and for her work championing the financial and legal interests of writers. She is currently the President of the Authors Licensing and Copyright Society, and a Fellow and Vice President of the Royal Society of Literature. This interview took place in London in July 2013 and first appeared in the inaugural edition of B.S.J: The B. S. Johnson Journal.
ItemIt's Just Thought You Know': An Interview with Ken Bolton( 2015-01-16) Taylor Johnson, Heather ; Bolton, KenKen Bolton is iconic, as far as Australian poets go, yet he remains a figure somewhat on the outer. For instance, he was not included in the comprehensive Australian Poetry since 1788, yet it was noted in the Australian that he should have been. His books, though shortlisted, have never won a Premier’s prize, yet Monash University held ‘A Ken Bolton Day: a symposium celebrating the writings and influences of poet, art critic and publisher Ken Bolton’. His style of poetry is uniquely his, termed as ‘Boltonian’ , and has been imitated by many a poet. In the late 70s, Ken’s first book, Four Poems, was published by Sea Cruise press, a press which he helped to establish. Back then he was also the editor of the journal Magic Sam, where he regularly published his own work alongside his poet-friends. What Ken was doing with poetry at the time was unconventional; someone had to publish it so why not him? Clearly the lifestyle of writing and publishing writing worked for him because he has since had more than twenty books of poetry published (including a Selected Poems, put out by Penguin in 1992 and another from Shearsman in 2012), started another publishing press (Little Esther Books) and edited another journal (Otis Rush). He also edited the anthology Homage to John Forbes. His art criticism has been collected (as Art Writing, 1990 to the 2000s, published by the Contemporary Art Centre of South Australia) and much of it collected and regularly updated on the AEAF website as The Formguide. In this interview, Ken talks about his poetry, other people’s poetry, humour and John Jenkins and how the two often connect, art, the 70s, Sydney and Adelaide, and plagiarising his own words.
ItemWrite from the Heart: An Interview with Brian Wrixon, a Poet from Canada( 2015-01-16) Ajit Kumar ; Brian WrixonBrian Wrixon, a poet, was born in 1946 in Toronto, Canada. He graduated from Laurentian University in Canada with a degree in Classical Studies, and is a former faculty member, online curriculum design consultant and program coordinator at Mohawk College in Hamilton, Ontario. His working career in the financial services business spanned forty years. He has contributed his poems to numerous collections of poetry. Apart from this, as a poet, he has written Poetry in Motion Volumes 1 & 2 (2011), Confessions of a Would-Be Poet (2011), Heartbeats, Footsteps & Musings (2012), Doors (2013), Down to the Sea in Words (2013), The Moving Finger Writes (2013), Sculptured Words (2013), A tisket, a tasket, poems in a Basket (2013), It’s a Sign of the Times (2013), Nightmares & Dreams (with Rollie Mukherjee) (2013),Shoot From the Hip: Memories of a Small Town (2013), A Return Ticket: Memories of Leaving a Small Town (2013), My Passage to India (2014), A Look at Yesterday (with Robert Vincent) (2014), Our Town Revisited (with Robert Vincent) (2014) and Desperate Freedom: a Play in Four Acts (2014). Apart from composing a good number of poems, he has edited many anthologies of poems and operates as a publisher as well. In addition to writing and publishing numerous poetry and prose works of his own, he has been instrumental in assisting hundreds of young and emerging authors from around the world get published, either personally or as contributors to group anthologies.
ItemInterview with Robin Robertson, Random House, London, 10 January 2011( 2015-01-16) Naomi, Katrina ; Robertson, RobinRobin Robertson has published five collections of poetry: A Painted Field, Slow Air, Swithering, The Wrecking Light and Hill of Doors, as well as Sailing the Forest: Selected Poems. Robertson (born 1955) was brought up on the north-east coast of Scotland. His poetry has received numerous awards, including the E. M. Forster Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and he is the first poet to have won all three categories of the Forward Prize. He lives in London. Katrina Naomi interviewed Robertson in the early stages of her PhD research at Goldsmiths (University of London). The title of her thesis is ‘Beyond Gentility: Violence in the Poetry of Sharon Olds, Pascale Petit, Peter Redgrove and Robin Robertson’.
ItemA Bosnian refugee who became a great story-teller: Adnan Mahmutovic on what drives him as a person and author( 2015-01-16) Mahmutovic, Adnan ; Sharma, SunilAdnan Mahmutovic is fast becoming a literary phenomenon across the Anglophonic world, courtesy a strong narrative voice that is unique and spotlights the human endurance in most extreme conditions, including war, ethnic cleansing and survival in new places as a refugee. His recent novel Thinner than a hair is in news; so is the collection of short fiction How to fare well and stay fair. Adnan has a PhD in English literature and an MFA in creative writing, and is currently a lecturer and writer-in-residence at the Department of English, Stockholm University. Fellow writer Sunil Sharma interviewed Adnan by email.
ItemVentriloquism Days: In Conversation with David Mathew( 2015-01-16) David Farrer ; David MathewDavid Mathew is the author of three novels – O My Days, Creature Feature, and most recently Ventriloquists – and a volume of short stories entitled Paranoid Landscapes. His wide areas of interest include psychoanalysis, linguistics, distance learning, prisons and online anxiety. With approximately 600 published pieces to his name, including a novel based on his time working in the education department of a maximum security prison (O My Days), he has published widely in academic, journalistic and fiction outlets. In addition to his writing, he co-edits The Journal of Pedagogic Development (at the University of Bedfordshire, UK), teaches academic writing, and he particularly enjoys lecturing in foreign countries and learning about wine. He is a member of the Tavistock Society of Psychotherapists and Allied Professionals, Evidence Informed Policy and Practice in Education in Europe (EIPPEE), and the European Association for the Teaching of Academic Writing. He was also a member of The Health Technology Assessment programme (www.hta.ac.uk), as part of the NIHR Evaluation, Trials and Studies Coordinating Centre at the University of Southampton (2009-2013). We met at his home in the south-east of England in November 2014 to discuss his approaches to writing and his new novel, Ventriloquists.