More than an hour of poetry and conversation between poets David Adès and Peter Boyle, on Peter’s selected theme— exploring the unknown in life.
Peter, with the theme that you’ve selected ‘Exploring the unknown in life’, you’re reading poems today from your last two books ‘Ideas of travel’, and ‘Notes towards the dream book of endings’. Both of those titles suggest to me the notion of exploration.
How do those two books reflect your theme?
I think both of those books reflect the idea of, or are based around the premise of, trying to write poetry that doesn’t start from what you know but is working its way towards what you don’t yet know. So it’s poetry that’s deliberately not paraphrasable—not exactly storytelling, not obviously related to some kind of theme that you could spell out in advance. So it has that exploratory quality, the sort of openness to the various things that life might unfold that we don’t yet know. So multiple dimensions of reality….
You’d be familiar with this, there’s a very old conversation in poetry about whether poets—and probably in literature generally—should write about what they know. I remember as a seventeen-year-old wannabe writer I was told not to write anything until I had something to say. I wrongly didn’t think I had anything to say as a seventeen-year-old and that was possibly the worst advice I’ve ever been given. How much of writing for you is about exploring the unknown?
Well, I think for me writing has got to be about exploring the unknown in a sense that if it’s something that I could say to someone because I know it already, if it’s—you know—just my opinions about some this, that or the other topic, then to me it just doesn’t have the energy to push me into creative poetry….