Monday, 22 March 2010

Annette Greenaway Interview

Annette Greenaway, in conversation with Frank Burton. Annette’s poetry collection, Big Fish Little Fish Cardboard Box, is available to read for free at

FB: How did you get into writing poetry?

AG: Well, I think I’ve been writing poetry on a subconscious level for years – arranging words into an attractive order, and blurting them out in conversation. Even when I started writing things down, it was partly a subconscious thing. I didn’t think, “I’m writing poetry now.” I began by composing these weird text messages. That’s where Some Notes on the Artistic Representation of the End of the World came from. That was originally a text message I’d written to freak my friends out.

Is that your intention? To freak people out?

Partly, but it’s mainly to challenge myself, and amuse myself – a lot of my poems aren’t really written for other people’s benefit. It’s a very personal thing.

How do you feel about having a collection out?

Strange – very strange. I’ve never been published before, so I’ve only really had feedback on my poems from people who know me. I had no idea how people who didn’t know me would react. The collection has been online for a couple of weeks, and so far all the comments have been positive. I’m really passionate about the whole internet publishing thing. I prefer it to producing a pamphlet, or something, which only a few people will get a chance to read.

Sometimes it's difficult to tell when you’re being funny and when you’re being serious. Am I right in thinking you use irony a lot?

To a certain extent, there’s irony in everything I write. Everything’s a joke and not a joke at the same time. But it depends on which poems you’re talking about. Accidental Acupuncture is just a funny poem – there’s no hidden agenda there. Whereas there’s a satirical element to something like Reading Dostoyevsky, which on one level is a bit of a laugh, and on another level it’s a poem about being an outsider.

I was thinking particularly about your “end of the world” poems. How serious are they?

Well, arguably the end of the world is the most serious subject you could possibly write about. I can’t think of anything more serious than the destruction of the planet – you can’t ignore the fact that whole species are being wiped out on a daily basis. I don’t believe the world is about to end, but I’m interested in the concept of the end of the world, and I’m interested in asking questions about it. I don’t have any answers, just questions.

Finally, who are your favourite poets?

I’m not sure what this says about me, but I’ve always preferred kids stuff – Lewis Carol, Hilaire Belloc. Dr Seuss is the greatest poet of all time.

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