with Ian Badcoe:
Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?
Ian: Sometime before the millennium my wife and I started writing an online diary in haiku. It was just for fun, but we kept at it, and we both started writing longer poems, and taking it more seriously, and studying the craft.
I guess my early influences were the people around me on the online forums where I went for critique and support. I’ve not been super influenced by historical or established poets, although I have always had a love of nonsense poetry. The book I go back to now and again is a T.S. Eliot collected works, where I usually spend some time with The Four Quartets. However I cannot read that too much as it starts to colour my work own too much.
Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?
Ian: I remain mostly influenced by the poets I find around me. Before lockdown I frequented several local open-mics and the unique voices heard there were frequently inspiring. It’s fascinating to hear both unique viewpoints and experiences, but also to encounter styles, approaches and techniques which instantly make you think “I should do something more like that!”
Currently I am in a regular semi-formal Zoom workshop where the regular participants (Jonathan Kinsman, Jem Henderson, Chris Cambell — to name a few) are hugely talented (and thus inspiring) writers. Again, each with their own unique style and viewpoint.
I seem to be much more prone to influence from people I have actually met, heard read, seen working… I think I need that degree of emotional immediacy. Anyone who looks a bit like a distant eminence tends to slide off my shielding.
Q3: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer/artist?
Ian: No. It is more something I inexorably slid into over the last twenty years.
Q4: Who has helped you most with writing?
Ian: My wife is always hugely supportive, and usually “reader zero” for anything new. Other than that it is the same contemporary voices mentioned above.
Q5: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing & have any travels away from home influenced your work?
Ian: I grew up in a small town in Leicestershire, England, but I have not lived there for for years.
I came to poetry relatively late, so I’ve been in Sheffield, Yorkshire through all my time as a poet. And I have not travelled extensively, which makes it hard to answer this one…
In one sense, however, the psychological travelling involved in engaging with people of different background, race, gender and gender orientation has been pivotal to me. It is the sheer dirty complexity of the world that fascinates me. I am deeply suspicious of anyone telling a story that sounds simple, and so I struggle to present the whole, complex picture; not just what is see from one singular viewpoint. Of course, I cannot deny that I am still processing everything from only my own viewpoint, but I am attempting to feed as wide a range of experience into that as I can.
Q6: What do you consider your most meaningful work you’ve done creatively so far?
Difficult. I think I have to list two things because they are meaningful in two completely different ways.
Personally meaningful — New Muses for a Posthuman Age is a ten sonnet sequence updating the nine Greek Muses for the modern day. The basic idea being that if they ever were immortal, then they would still be here, and from that asking what role would they take on in the modern or near-future world. A great thing about this was I got some friends to voice each muse and loved putting the whole thing together as a little audio production: https://soundcloud.com/ian-badcoe/sets/new-muses-for-a-posthuman-age
Globally meaningful — A Soap Bubble. However, if we are to look for meaning in the crises faced by the contemporary world, I think the most meaningful work has to be A Soap Bubble, my climate change poem. You can find the poem here: https://www.ianbadcoe.uk/2019/02/a-soap-bubble.html but also Hallam London has set it to music and also created this powerful video to accompany the song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rot0wPRp_9M – I do not think we can hope to have much influence on the evolving global crisis, be we had to try…
Q7: Favorite activities to relax?
Ian: Walking on the local moors, reading and gardening.
Q8: What is a favorite line/stanza from a poem of yours or others?
This is by far the hardest question to answer. I tend to live in the moment of the poem (mine or someone else’s) that is going on at the time. There are bits I love, but I cannot honestly recall them until they happen to me again.
So I think I will just quote the break from one of my songs with Hallam London, Hey Changeling:
Why are you still trying to live with human beings?
Why are you still trying to do that boy/girl thing?
Although you can hold down a job or stand in queues,
is this honestly the sort of world for you?
This is a song about the broad experience of growing up as an outsider, of living with any kind of difference that sets you apart from the people around you.
But the real reason that is a favourite is the way it interacts with Hallam’s voice and his music. So, to get the full impact you will have to listed to it: see below…
Q9: Any recent or forthcoming projects that you’d like to promote?
I have been collaborating with German Indie Rock singer/composer Hallam London for something like seven years now. Over that time I have written something like forty lyrics for him, and we have turned about twenty of them into songs, of which eleven have made the cut onto his forthcoming album Be Yourself in 11 Easy Lessons.
However everyone tells Hallam “albums are dead” so he is in the process of releasing all the individual tracks as singles, and the first three of them, PLUS two different versions of Soap Bubble (“plugged” and “unplugged”) are available for streaming, or as music videos here:
Songs with Hallam London