with Alan Parry
Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?
I began writing in my teens. I wanted to be a songwriter, I was a songwriter. A bloody awful one, but one all the same. Through my late teens I got into The Doors in a big way, I’ve now a bunch of themed, Doors tattoos. I really dug Dylan, The Specials, and Frank Zappa too. I liked the anger, the rebellion, the demand for justice that they displayed. My early work had a lot of that about it. It’s not very good and much of it has been lost (Phew).
At school, I was very interested in the diasporic writers that were on the syllabus at the time, as well as Adrian Henri and John Cooper Clarke, who I met at a gig when I was fifteen. He just oozed cool.
Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?
Well, I’m heavily influenced by what I’m reading, and I’ve not read lots of poetry recently, save for a pair of Andrew McMillan collections I was gifted in April.
It would be remiss of me to ignore the poetry community I’m a part of. Poets like Dave Hanlon and Eli Horan who write explicitly about personal experience have influenced my most recently finished collection. I wanted to mine my own life and be a little more introspective and reading their work and listening to them read helped that endeavour.
Q3: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing? Have any travels away from home influence your work/describe?
Alan: I grew up in Southport, just north of Liverpool. Half my family are scouse musicians. The music they play and talked about helped me learn about phrasing and I think my best work has a musicality about it, which is owing to that grounding.
I spent some time in Cuba which did much the same. I sat in the bar that Hemingway sat in, how could I not be inspired? Also, a lot of my more recent work is inspired by holidaying with family in North Wales, even if it is something as simple as the name of a hymn, or a jellied slate path I remember that finds its way into a poem.
Q4: What do you consider the most meaningful work you’ve done creatively so far?
Well, in terms of my own work, putting out my debut collection Neon Ghosts was a massive deal. I learned a lot from the process, and I feel that it lends me authenticity as an editor to have been through that process. I’ve had other offers for more recent collections that I have turned down, because they didn’t feel right. But that first one was always going to be the hardest.
My forthcoming collection is more personal and means more to me, due to the people I write about, the places I go, and how I handle them. I hope I will be seen to have done them justice.
However, my most meaningful work is probably the work I do with The Broken Spine, where we are trusted with other artists work, and we give a leg up to young and emerging artists. https://thebrokenspine.co.uk/shop/
Q5: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a poet/writer?
Alan: Yeah, a barbecue with a friend from school. We were going to write a hit sitcom together and put on a production of Macbeth after school. It never happened. He had gone to uni and started writing with somebody else, I’d gotten married and had children. I went back to education on the back of that night. I took a creative writing module, developed a monologue for the stage and started writing poetry again. That was the spur.
Q6: Favorite activities to relax?
Alan: I love watching live stand up comedy, and live music. I could go to a gig every night and never get bored. Visiting new places is cool, swimming in the sea is freeing, but I can’t escape my love for the arts. For me that trumps nature.
Q7: Any recent or forthcoming projects you’d like to promote?
Alan: I have a forthcoming collection of twenty something poems, but cannot really say much about that right now. It is with a small press, who have promised me creative control and that was hugely important to me.
I cannot escape plugging what we do at The Broken Spine, it sort of defines me right now. Eating up most of my spare time, we’ve just released Stuart M Buck’s latest chapbook, Blue the Green Sky and reviews have been incredible.
I’m in the very early stages of creating a new series under The Broken Spine umbrella, with Stuart M Buck. BOLD Arts Zine will publish work that is centred on the theme of masculinity. It is inspired by my academic research and our mutual love of coming of age literature, especially The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and Andrew McMillan’s work.
Q8: What is a favorite line from a poem of yours or others?
Well, I think the best line I ever wrote is in a poem from a collection that is about my hometown, I worked with Paul Robert Mullen, Mary Earnshaw, and David Walshe to complete that project. It’s out for submission right now, that line is…
‘cars, abandoned by amblers& twilight photographers,collect like dead flies on a windowsill’
It says a great deal about my Southport.
My favourite line of somebody else’s work, well this is a toss up between this from Stuart M Buck’s ‘Maps’…
‘… the last time i saw guy taylor was yesterdayand my teacher says i will never see him againand if i am lucky i will be let back into schoolbut by god if i ever so much as touch anyonehe will throw me out and my mum is sad andmy dad is sad and i am sad because i do notknow if guy is sad…’
And this from Bukowski’s’ The Mockingbird’..
‘… yesterday the cat walked calmly up the drivewaywith the mockingbird alive in its mouth,wings fanned, beautiful wings fanned and flopping,feathers parted like a woman’s legs…’
Any artwork by Stuart Davis will excite me too!
Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?
Easy I owe all my recent successes to the advice of Matthew MC Smith and Paul Robert Mullen. They have helped me to create two collections I’m very proud of. Poetry & Interview with Matthew M C Smith & Black Bough Poetry Poems by Paul Robert Mullen in Fevers of the Mind Anthologies (2019)
Jay Rafferty, Lizzie Kemball and Dave Hanlon deserve special mention for the advice they offered via our small community of poets. And of course David Walshe and Mary Earnshaw for their help improving my work in that hometown collection. Books to Read in 2021: Spectrum of Flight by David Hanlon