“Hotel lobby carpets. Menstruation and mojitos. The decaying smell of tobacco on raincoats on a bus. Blood and archaeology and frost in the morning.”
The Ash Wednesday Series takes its name from the following Leonard Cohen quotation: “Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash”. As a writer, does this ring true for you?
Yes it does. But my life doesn’t have to be burning that well for there to be ash.
What makes a poem?
A spark of memory twisted into a lie that rings true in the imagination. Or whatever works. One of those.
Describe your writing ritual.
My ritual, such as it is, is to not write until I have to. Then, after enormous amounts of writing and rewriting, the piece either tells you it’s ready to go out into the world on its own (and you’re not invited); or it falls apart and you have to pull it back to the moment just before it did that, and see if it can still walk.
Is writing a compulsion, obsession or something else?
Writing is something without which I could not do, or I’d become impossible. If I had to give it up, I might as well crawl under a duvet and decompose. So to speak.
What makes being a writer in Dublin unique (to being a writer anywhere else)?
It’s a small and relatively quiet city. That can be good.
The nose provides a way for understanding the world and its first impressions. The first smells of people and places, for whatever the nose chooses to capture can become a strong memory for the mind. Smells have a way of lingering, taking up space as though they were bodies. What does Dublin smell like to you?
Hotel lobby carpets. Menstruation and mojitos. The decaying smell of tobacco on raincoats on a bus. Blood and archaeology and frost in the morning.
Whose poems are you reading now?
Todd Swift’s magnificent new book, When All My Disappointments Came At Once.
Describe your coffee ceremony (i.e. everything that goes into a perfect coffee experience).
For coffee to be perfect, I have to let professionals make it. My favourites are the ones you get in cafés in Paris, preferably at breakfast, with a croissant and some really fresh bread and jam. It’s better still if you’re accompanied by someone nice who is still sleepy, and funny and there on holiday with you, and it’s sunny and you haven’t yet decided what you’ll do with the day. But I’ll drink coffee even if it’s not perfect, and I’m alone, and not in Paris, and it’s raining, and there’s no jam.
Patrick Chapman reading his poem can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BkzNI6J0SXo&feature=youtu.be
PATRICKCHAPMAN’s A Promiscuity of Spines: New & Selected Poems, was published by Salmon Poetry in October. His other collections are Jazztown (Raven Arts Press, 1991), The New Pornography (Salmon, 1996), Breaking Hearts and Traffic Lights (Salmon, 2007), A Shopping Mall on Mars (BlazeVOX [Books], 2008), and The Darwin Vampires (Salmon, 2010). His collection of stories is The Wow Signal (Bluechrome, 2007).
Also a scriptwriter, he adapted his own published story for Burning the Bed (2003). Directed by Denis McArdle, this award-winning film starred Gina McKee and Aidan Gillen. He has written episodes of the BBC/RTÉ children’s animated series Garth & Bev (Kavaleer, 2009); and a Doctor Who audio play, Fear of the Daleks (Big Finish, UK, 2007). In 2010 his work was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.