Rhyme is pleased to publish an interview with an English poet Kevin Morris whose short biography you can read here. Kevin’s new book of poems “My Old Clock I Wind” will be released in June 2017. Read more on his blog.
In your opinion and experience, what is essential to being a poet?
Having a poetic soul is essential if one wishes to write deep, meaningful verse. By poetic soul I mean a sensitivity and appreciation of the world, nature and all facets of the Universe. A study of the poetic tradition (for example Keats, Shakespeare and Blake) also assists in developing the capacity to write poetry, if you want to learn an art of creating beautiful and powerful images using words.
What prompted you to start writing poetry?
I have always loved poetry and have happy recollections of leafing through various anthologies in the school library. As I grew older, I felt a burning desire to express myself in words. I find poetry a wonderful outlet for my thoughts and feelings.
How do you find inspiration? Or does it find you?
I find inspiration in the song of the birds and a snippet of conversation overheard. On other occasions inspiration finds me. For example, my poem “Shadows” (which appears in my forthcoming collection of poetry, “My Old Clock I Wind”) came to me as I sat in my study. I became aware of the sunlight playing upon the walls and creating shadows. This led me to ponder on how my own shadow will, one day be gone and conjecture whether another person (at some future date) will, while sitting in the self-same spot, entertain similar thoughts to mine, regarding mortality.
How often do you write? Do you do writing exercises in poetry or do you just wait for the Muse to appear?
I try to write every day. Sometimes I sit for protracted periods and produce nothing. On other occasions, I pen lines only to decide they are substandard and delete them. More often (thankfully) I sit at my desk and produce work I am happy to publish. I don’t perform specific writing exercises. I simply sit and set words down on virtual paper, using my laptop.
Do you write in rhyme or in free verse?
I have always had a love, developed in early childhood, of rhyming poetry. Consequently, from an early stage, most of my poetry has been written using rhyme. I have written in free verse, too. I do, however feel most comfortable when expressing myself in rhyme. For me, it is intrinsically beautiful, which explains my preference for writing rhyming poetry.
The overall majority of modern poets write in free verse. What do you think about this tendency?
Some modern poets find traditional (rhyming) poetry overly restrictive: they feel it operates as a straightjacket limiting their ability to freely express themselves. I have a preference for rhyming poetry and most of my verse is expressed in rhyme, consequently, I disagree with the view that the utilisation of rhyme is limiting. There is, however, some extremely well-written free verse poetry, and it is up to each poet to find what works best for them. For some this will mean writing in rhyme. For others, it will entail utilising free verse, while other poets will employ a combination of both. Perhaps free verse is also a matter of fashion, and rhyming poetry will rise to prominence once more at some future date.
What advice would you give to poets who want to write in rhyme but think it’s too difficult?
Don’t get disheartened. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it will take time for you to develop the ability to write in rhyme. Reading other poets who are great at using rhyme can help in developing the skill, but be wary of becoming a carbon copy of the poets you read and admire. It’s important to develop your own, unique voice.
What poets are your greatest influence?
I admire many poets. Amongst my favourites are Alfred Edward Housman, Ernest Dowson, John Keats and Philip Larkin.
What kind of poetry do you like to read?
I enjoy reading rhyming poetry, although I am always prepared to check out poets who write in free verse. I enjoy poems about nature, love and anything that engages with the great questions of life and death. I am also a fan of humorous verse, for example that of Edward Lear.
What is your upcoming poetry collection about? How many poems will be there?
“My Old Clock I Wind” will consist of approximately 80 poems. The collection is largely concerned with the passing of time (hence the title). We humans have a tendency to act as though we are immortal, but time catches up with us all in the end. My book also contains poems of a humorous nature, including a number of limericks.
Do you have previously published books of poems?
I have published 3 previous collections: “Dalliance: A Collection of Poetry and Prose”, “The Girl Who Wasn’t There and Other Poems”, and “Lost in the Labyrinth of My Mind”. Many of the poems in all three collections deal with the passing of the
seasons, nature and time itself.
“Dalliance” derives its title from the first poem in the collection
which is, primarily, about the death of love. However, the collection was my first (serious) dalliance with poetry, which also helps to explain the title of the book.
The collection “The Girl Who Wasn’t There” also takes its title from the first poem, which deals with an illicit affair between a married man and a young woman.
“Lost in the Labyrinth of My Mind” reflects the fact that I often become wrapped up in my own thoughts, which leads to the composition of many of my poems. Again, the first poem in this collection is entitled “Lost”, while another piece is entitled “Labyrinth”. The latter poem compares dark thoughts in the human mind to being lost in the labyrinth portrayed in the Greek myths where the Minotaur lurks.
You also write prose, and have published several books. Are your prose and poetry two similar worlds, or do they differ from each other?
For me poetry is (largely speaking) about the utilisation of rhyme, while prose entails the use of words in a non-poetic manner. Nevertheless, prose can be highly poetic and there sometimes exists a thin line between poetry and prose. My prose writing is non-poetic in nature, that’s why there is a clear distinction between my poetry and prose. My short stories are primarily tales of crime and suspense, while my poetry expresses a variety of topics and emotions and ponders on nature, love, philosophy, and there is a humorous line to it, too.
What’s the easiest and the hardest part of writing for you?
In general, I find writing poetry relatively easy. The hardest part of writing is finding the time to write. I have a full-time job, so I need to fit in my writing around my paid employment.
What have you learned about yourself after you started writing poetry?
I have learned that poetry is essential to who I am. Poetry enables me to express emotions and thoughts in an honest manner. I am often struck by how my virtual pen runs away with me, as on re-reading my work I find that I have expressed things I never intended to place in the public domain.
Can you share one of your poems?
Here is my poem, “Shadows”:
“On such a day, when the winter sun
Casts my shadow upon yonder wall,
It is difficult to recall
This will, one day be done.
In future will some other one, sitting here, and seeing their shadow fall
Upon this self-same wall,
Know that they may not forestall
Where dancing shadows are, forever lost from sight”.
Where can we find you online?
Youtube (which contains examples of me reading my poetry):