The wonderful and engimatic poet, Rodney Wood is joining us today.
Applause – Crowd go mad – security is called (again)
Rodney elegantly descends the lighted stairs
Now, settle down, Poetry Lovers! Let’s let our guest take his seat
Cool hat, Rodney! I think this is the hat – is it not? It certainly has a story to tell!
Every hat tells a story, Heather. I particularly like this one as it goes with my tie dye vest
Oh Rodney, you are so cool ! Tie dye is the way to go! How long did you stand at that sink to get such a strong shade of pink? Isn’t he the most, everybody?!
Now calm down, Poetry Lovers, because I’m chomping at the bit to ask Rodney his first question – How did poetry become a part of your life?
In my very late 20’s, I spent a week with the poet lorryeate of Milton Keynes, Bill Billing, at Open University Summer School. He introduced me to poetry (and much else) and encouraged me to “just write”.
I was able to thank him a few years later by putting him on the stage with his hero, Ivor Cutler, in Aldershot and by buying him some SAS wings. From that stage I continued to write bad poems.
Fabulous, Rodney! How I’d love to interview those guys too! You’ve certainly come a long way, and so modest!
Now which poets influenced you the most?
Elizabeth Bishop, Raymond Carver, Ken Smith and Matthew Sweeney. I fell in love with them and read everything they’d ever written. When I had the chance to meet Ken and Matthew (who was writer in residence at nearby Farnham. He invited me to a reading once but didn’t tell me the audience would be made up of sixth form schoolgirls) they were both so kind and generous that I just wanted to become part of that world.
I had much to learn so paid weekly visits to the Poetry Library, went on Arvon courses, was one of the founder members of the OU Poets and put on about a dozen poetry readings.
Rodney! That is so impressive! An inspiring example of what we do for our passion and art.
And what a CV! Tell us about your pamphlet Dante called you Beatrice, published by Red Ceiling Press. How did you come to write it?
I’d read so many books with dedications to a significant other and I thought well why not write all the love poems to and for that person. Found the title by the way from a book by Paul Potts, not the opera singing one.
Geoffrey Pimlott told me how he’d been a landscape watercolourist but when he saw how computers could generate the same result, he had to do something different. I invented a new form that was short, based on repetition and mucked around with the structure.
The last thing to fall in place was the cover. I’d seen the Cuban artist’s work while I was on holiday and emailed him (Raul Cordero) to say how much I enjoyed his exhibition. A few years later, I emailed him again and asked if I could use one specific painting. He replied that I could use any one of his paintings I wanted. That generosity again.
Todd Swift, of Eyewear Publishing, called it a lovely little book and gave me much needed confidence. “When did you start getting good” he said.
Love it, Rodney! What a story! And that was praise indeed!
Now, can you elaborate on starting Write Out Loud Woking with the wonderful Greg Freeman?
For various reasons (one of them to do with my leather hat), Greg and I wanted an open-mic in Woking where people could just read their poems in a relaxed, non-competitive environment. We also both had a passion for poetry and liked each other’s poems. After perhaps too much prompting from me, Greg found a venue at Send (bit out the way) and later The Lightbox in the centre of Woking, where a few great writers from London also came to enjoy the vibe, Matthew, Tom and Heather.
We’re zooming across the universe now. We enjoy the events so much and at every reading are struck by the varieties and types of poems on offer. In fact, no poem is better than any other.
I was, and still am, the Stanza rep for Woking at this time and it was a good fit as I believe that reading out loud is the final stage of editing a poem.
Well, I’m blushing here, Rodney, I tell you. I treasure those nights at Woking. Loved Send too. Magical nights at both.
So, what was your best poetry gig, and what was your worst?
The worst was at the Poetry Cafe in London. I was really giving the poems some welly and then looked at the organizer who was busy writing and chatting to a neighbour. Why bother? I thought.
The best reading was at the LRB Bookshop where there was an attentive audience and I was trying to see what my poems looked like when signed. I’m half deaf as well. A magical experience like laughing along with Ivor Cutler.
Tsk! That’s happened to me too. It’s a really deflating experience.
I would love to have known Ivor Cutler. He sounded a great talent.
Rodney, thank you so much for sharing such unique, enthralling and inspiring stories. Hasn’t he been wonderful, Poetry Lovers?!
standing ovation, security look nervous
Now Rodney, you’ve got to come up the Talk of the Town tonight. Lovelace Watkins and Peter Gordeno are having a frilled shirt contest. You’ve gotta be there! Greg’s going!
They never let me in, Heather. I think it’s my hats!
Well! If your hats aren’t good enough for them………I’m just going up Send with Cliff and The Shadows then! Greg can tell me who won. Coming, Rodney?
The Shads and I drank Send dry last night, Heather.
Tonight it’s feet up, watching Z Cars.
What?? I bloody love Z Cars! That’s it! They’re getting the old heave-ho!
Thank you so much for coming in, Rodney, and allowing me to interview you.
Huge huge applause as Rodney is smuggled out the building
Wasn’t that great, everybody?! Tune in, same time, same channel for more poetry antics. Bye bye
Click the following link for more information on Write Out Loud http://writeoutloud.net
Worth looking up, it did so much for me !