with Gill McEvoy:
Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?
Gill: As I’ve written in a poem my first true word was “Scissors” when my mother was angry at me for taking her sewing scissors to play with. I think I’ve loved words ever since especially as my aunt taught me to read early and I found the ability to read words and to cherish the sounds of words themselves wonderful, and regarded them almost with religious awe. I collected them too, the longer the better, swapping them with others at school. “Tintinabulation” was one of our favourites until someone came up with “susurration”.
Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?
Gill: So many poets have had influence over my work it feels unfair to pick one out. I love the brevity of Jane Kenyon, and also of Chinese and Japanese poetry. I often turn to the work of Tomas Transtromer, Ted Kooser, Louis Macneice, Wendell Berry, the late Anna Adams, Eavan Boland, Derek Mahon and Tony Hoagland.
Q3: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing? Have any travels away from home influence your work?
Gill: childhood was spent in many different parts of England, mostly in the country where I learned to love wildflowers, trees, birds and insects and these appear frequently I my poems. As an adult I spent time in USA, Finland Canada and Ireland and many of my poems reflect these periods in my life, in particular the USA.
Q4: What do you consider the most meaningful work you’ve done creatively so far?
Gill: Of all my work the collection most difficult to write was my pamphlet “The First Telling”, (Happenstance Press 2014) It deals with the aftermath of rape, not, I’m pleased to say, my own experience but that of someone very dear to me. It won public approval by winning the 2015 Michael Marks Award, as a result of which I had an amazing two-week residency in Greece as guest of the Harvard Centre for Hellenic Studies in Nafplion.
Q5: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?
Gill: From childhood I knew I wanted to be a writer, but I don’t think I expected to become a poet, though I wrote poetry for many years before ever thinking to publish it. My pivotal moment here, and it was enormous, was being diagnosed in 2000 with late-stage ovarian cancer. It was thought I wouldn’t survive but I did, thankfully.
Q6: Favorite activities to relax? no answer
Q7: Any recent or forthcoming projects that you’d like to promote?
Gill: I have gone on since then to write intensely, poetry as my metier, to have 3 full collections and 3 pamphlets published and to win a number of prizes for my work. My recent collection is “Are You Listening?” (Hedgehog Press 2020) that traces the journey through my grief for my late husband.
Q8: What is a favorite line/stanza from a poem of yours or others?
Gill: I don’t have a favourite line from any of my poems, but I do have a favourite poem I’m really proud of having written and it is “Football, Kuala Lumpur”, about boys playing the game in monsoon rain and frogs springing from the storm drains to play at their own games. The first stanza reads “Rain.. ..loves/ the way the open hands/ of city trees receive it/ the way its great drops/trampoline the pavements.” It was published in “The Plucking Shed” (Cinnamon press 2010).
Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?
Gill: Of all the professional encouragement and help I received in my writing the greatest came from Helena Nelson, editor of Happenstance Press. She was kind, expressed belief in my work, and gave me much valuable advice. I am very grateful to her.