A Spineless Wonders Youtube presentention of—readings by Hazel Smith, a presentation by Roger Dean, a conversation between Hazel and Anne Brewster, and a talk by Joy Wallace. The event took place in June 2022 and was placed online on 25th August and is available for viewing here. It’s 1 hr 28 min in length.
I’ve been reading Ecliptical and enjoying it a great deal, and I noticed at the beginning of the book you comment several times that poetry is a kind of archaic literary form, and you question somewhat whimsically about whether people actually read poetry or not. And if this is so, why do you write poetry, and what does it offer for you?
I think what attracts me a great deal about poetry is the enigmatic and chameleon qualities of language. The fact that a word can mean so many different things—it’s very exciting to explore and exploit that. I also love the interweaving of sound and sense that you get in poetry. But, there is a lot more to it than that, I think that there’s something much more fundamental—which is that I feel that poetry is incredibly flexible, mutable. There is so much that you can do with the form—you can stretch it in so many different ways. This is something that I love to do. I love to hybridize poetry with prose, with writing for performance, with writing for the screen. I love to bring poetry together with visual images, and with music.
It just gives me enormous scope to do what I want. And it really suits me because I like to have a very varied style of writing. I like to write in a very heterogeneous way, rather than a homogenous way. poetry really gives me a space to do that.
And what about the title of the book, ‘Ecliptical’…. this evokes ideas of eclipse and ellipsis. And you seem quite interested in the idea—the act of—not seeing everything. For example, when you talk about personhood—which you do quite a lot—you’re very interested in these concepts of incompleteness and disruption.
Yes, I think we never really do see the whole of everything, we never really have the full story about anything. People often house secrets, or they withhold information—they withhold information in families and sometimes it’s for generations. So we’re not in control of all the facts about something, we’re always wondering a little bit. And I like to present my material like that, I like to present my material in a very enigmatic way. I don’t want to fill in all the details. And I want to raise questions rather than answering them.
Ecliptical addresses contemporary psychological, ethical and philosophical issues including family secrets and tensions, private and public creativity, the enigma of time, surveillance, fake news, environmental damage and homelessness.
Ecliptical includes prose poetry and short prose; texts that are synaesthetic, sonic or linguistic explorations, surreal excursions and ‘bullet point’ adventures in which each line unveils a new observation. Other pieces employ non-literary forms or include documentary or remixed elements. Ecliptical also flirts with the posthuman in some collaborative computer-assisted poems.