Saturday, 22 March 2014

It's Almost Achievable

‘It’s almost achievable….’

Stride’s Rupert M Loydell tells us why


Rupert M Loydell Talks to CygnusX

Rupert M Loydell is Senior Lecturer in English with Creative Writing at Falmouth University, and the editor of Stride and With magazines. He is the author of several collections of poetry, including the recent Ballads of the Alone and Wildlife (both from Shearsman), and Tower of Babel, an artist’s book-in-a-box from Like This Press. He edited Smartarse for Knives Forks & Spoons Press, From Hepworth's Garden Out: Poems About Painters and St. Ives for Shearsman, and Troubles Swapped for Something Fresh, an anthology of manifestos and unmanifestos, for Salt. He lives in a creekside village with his family and far too many CDs and books.


Hello, CygnusX…

Can you describe yourself in a few words?
Middle aged, middle class, middle of the road.
Poet, painter, editor, writer, lecturer, partner, father, son.

Was there a specific moment when you decided to be a writer/artist?
I’ve always enjoyed writing at school, but I upped my interest when I joined the poetry group at Twickenham College where I was doing an art foundation course.

What were your formative years like?
I grew up in the London suburbs, got a free place at Latymer Upper School – which was then a grammar school, swam, biked, skateboarded and went to gigs. I grew up surrounded by books, and became addicted to music as a teenager.

How did you learn to write or practice your art?
I read, read and read… then started writing for myself at 17. I learnt through example and then from tutors and fellow students on my creative arts degree. There was a big change later on when I took an MA and I was challenged with regard to ideas of form, confession and the nature of writing.

What are you working on at present?
Very little, truth be told. University work seems to have taken over right now. I have completed two collaborative poem sequences with Daniel Y Harris who is based in California, have a manuscript The Return of the Man Who Has Everything out looking for a publisher; otherwise I have been conducting interviews for Punk & Post-Punk Journal and writing about Brian Eno with a friend and colleague from work.

Do you sound like your true self in your work?
I’ve no idea what I sound like to others, so on one level this is hard to answer. I suspect the constantly changing subjects and tangential asides in my work probably sound like me. I’m definitely in my poems but they are not ‘confessional’ or ‘true’ in an autobiographical sense.

Do you keep a diary or journal?

Of your works which is your personal favourite?
I think Wildlife and Ballads of the Alone are strong works or groups of work. I also have a soft spot, if that’s the right phrase, for the sequence I wrote when my dad died, although I don’t write in the same way at all now. I have some favourite paintings.

Do you still like your early work?
Not much. It’s of its time and the product of a young me. I don’t disown it, but I’ve moved on. I would probably think of The Museum of Light as where my mature work starts.

Who first supported you in your work?
Brian Louis Pearce was a friend of my father’s and a poet; he also ran the poetry group at Twickenham College. He was very important to me, not least because he took me and my work seriously. Then there have been an ongoing number of friends, collaborators and colleagues who have kept me going.

What was your first published/exhibited work?
Probably a poem in the local church magazine, otherwise a poem sequence about the Broad Street train line which won a prize and was published soon after.

Do you know your audience?
Some of them, but no, not all of them. I hate the word ‘networking’, but I’m quite good at that, although I can’t abide or cope with social media.

Do you read your work out loud in private?
Very rarely, although I often sound it out I my head.

Do you give readings of your work in public?
Sometimes, but not as much as I used to. I mainly write for the page, and try to only do readings where people who want to can come along; that is, I no longer, for instance, do open mikes or pub gigs where one competes for attention or has to be a comedian or rapper to win applause.

Do critical reactions concern you?
Yes, but the key word there is critical, that is informed and useful comment.

Do you read non-fiction?
More and more. I have written and currently teach a creative non-fiction module at university. I think there is a real buzz at the moment around this all-encompassing genre.

Do you have tribal instincts?
No, I’m too much of a loner. If I went tribal I probably wouldn’t join the tribes people would expect me to.

‘If I went tribal I probably wouldn’t join the tribes people would expect me to.’

How necessary is it to you that you are published & ‘known’?
I think publication is necessary, but that can be online. I definitely want the work ‘out there’, but poetry is perhaps fortunate that it has little in economic value so one can concentrate on cultural value. I’m egotistical enough to want to be known, realistic enough to know poetry has a small audience most of the time. But I have learnt to place my work beyond the poetry world, for instance on the Caught by the River and International Times websites, both of which have much bigger readerships than most poetry magazines.

Would you continue to work if you had no public outlet?
Probably, but I think I always will. Give me some paper, a pen, some glue and a photocopier and I can publish my work!

Are you hip, with-it and bang up-to-date? No
Are you introspective? Yes
Are you outrageous? No
Are you a scholarly academic? Sometimes
Are you attracted by the mysterious and the marvellous? Yes
Are you attracted by the sinister and the macabre? Sometimes
Are you attracted by the strange and the bizarre? Yes
Are you attracted by exotica? No
Are you attracted to nature? Sometimes
Are you a Bohemian, arty type? I used to be
Are you a Romantic? Yes
Are you a Classicist? No
Are you a Realist? Only if I have to be
Are you an urbanite? Yes
Are you cosmopolitan? No but I like the cosmopolis
Are you a visionary? No
Are you an outsider? Yes
Are you a dropout? No
Are you a recluse? I wish
Are you an activist? In my own way, yes
Are you a radical? When required
Are you a dissenter? Yes
Are you a contrarian? No
Are you a pacifist? Yes
Are you anti-establishment? Yes
Are you an anarchist?
I believe in democratic anarchism, which means slowing the system down, not giving power to anyone, and making people responsible for their own actions
Are you a feminist?
Men can’t be feminists, but I support feminism. It’s regarded as an out-of-date term these days tho'. Things have moved on.
Are you an Existentialist?
Yes. The leap of doubt and the leap of faith both intrigue me.
Are you an internationalist? Yes

What are your literary tastes? Do they have an effect on your work?
The experimental and the intriguing. The hybridisation of the avant-garde and the narrative has interested me recently, as well as ekphrasis, processual and collaborative writing.

What are your tastes in the art world? Do they have an effect on your work?
Yes. I remain principally interested in modernist abstract painting, and often struggle with conceptual art and installation, because they seem to produce so much poor work around the more successful and accomplished work. Yes, of course they effect what I do.

Are there any contemporary writers/artists/musicians you admire?
How long have you got? Mark Anmerika, Barry Lopez and Brian Eno are current reading matter. Cole Swensen’s and John Taggart’s poetry. I often revisit the work of Robert Creeley, Ted Hughes, John Beryman, Charles Wright and Paul Blackburn. My study is piled high with books and CDs, which I voraciously consume when I get the chance. Julian Beck’s anarchist theatre writings are uncompromised and valuable.

I continue to admire the art of John Hoyland, Andrew Bick, Peter Lanyon, Ivon Hitchens, Richard Diebenkorn, David Smith and many others.

Are you affiliated with any contemporary schools, groups and/or movements?
No, although I collected together poems by a group of writers in the Smartarse anthology which I felt explored the notional of post-confessional narrative.

Do you feel any affinity with schools, groups and/or movements from history?
Not as groups per se, more as individuals. I admire the way groups can write about their own work and present a united [?] front to the world, but too many manifestos and rules soon seem to lead to argument and disarray, compromise and fighting.

What kind of art/poetry, or movements in art/poetry, do you dislike?
Oh anyone who claims to be the future of anything bores me, anyone who dismisses things they clearly don’t know about or understand. I personally dislike shaggy-dog type poems with neat little punchlines or epiphanies at the end and have little time for light verse or end-of-line rhymes.

‘anyone who claims to be the future of anything bores me’

I find the ideas that the subconscious is more valid than conscious thought absurd too, so am not a natural surrealist. I prefer the humour, wit and subversion of Dada.

Do ancient myths, folklore and legends influence you?
Sometimes. I investigated the Tower of Babel as I made my paintings on that theme.

Are you influenced by history and antiquity?
Not in those terms no.

Are you influenced by Eastern religions or mysticism?
I’m interested in some Buddhist philosophy, particularly where they intersect with more liberal Christianity – for instance in the later writings of Thomas Merton.

Are you influenced by Marx or Post-Marxism?
Only in that I see it as articulating capitalism which I think is an outdated and collapsing system.

Are you influenced by Freud and Psychoanalysis? Nope.

Are you influenced by Jung and Jungian Psychology? Nope.

I think Jung and Freud, along with others produced theories which can be useful tools to understand the world, but I’d prefer some more modern ideas such as the idea of the rhizome or Kenneth Goldsmith’s ideas of ‘uncreative writing’. Freud and Jung have never struck a chord.

Are you influenced by Wittgenstein and Philosophy of Language?
One can’t help but be if one has paid attention to the last 30 years of poetry (e.g. the Language Poets), postmodern theology or if you teach English at university. So yes.

Are you influenced by Marcel Duchamp? 
He’s on my radar, but only in terms of Readymades and as a possible cause of or inspirer of conceptual art.
Are you influenced by music?
Endlessly. I think unconsciously most of all – music as a facilitator of states of mind conducive to painting particularly, which is of great use when one has limited studio time, but also in ways of thinking about composition: the idea of remixing for instance is entering academic discourse as a challenge to accepted notions of academic writing and referencing quoted material.

Are you influenced by where you live?
Yes. I’ve made paintings about the creek, written poems about characters in and the dynamics of the village. I also spend a lot of time wishing I was back in London or a city.

Can there be good and bad influences?
Yes, but bad influences can be creative and produce change and better work.

‘…bad influences can be creative and produce change and better work.’

What would you say is your driving influence?
I don’t think I have any idea. It’s what I do and have now done for over 30 years.

Could you tell me about your work?
I write poems and prose poems, reviews and papers; I conduct interviews; I edit a magazine and anthologies; I write collaboratively; I write academic papers; I paint small abstract paintings.

Can you tell me about your creative process? 
I write. I collage, I remix, I use translation engines, I distrust personal experience, I filter my experiences, reading and listening into texts.

What inspires you to start a new project, how do you start?
A phrase, a word, a commission, a concept, an idea. A friendship, a process or a need to articulate – or at least think about and explore – an idea.

How do you finish a work?
I look and read at my work endlessly until it no longer required changing. This usually takes several months

Do you have any working rituals or superstitions?
Not really.

When do you write?
Whenever I want. Today I wrote a first draft on paper in a validation board meeting. Sometimes I scribble in notebooks or blank pages in books.

Where do you write?
Anywhere, but I draft on my computer on the dining room table or in my study, depending on who else is in the house.

Do you use a typewriter or a computer?
I usually write a first draft longhand, then it’s onto computer.

Do you work in new and unusual media?

Do you work across different media?

Are you keen on computer graphics?

Do you compose direct on the keyboard (typewriter/computer)?

Do you work in silence or with background music?
Music, but I’m not sure it’s background.

Do you have any working rituals or superstitions?
Not really. I worry about repeating myself.

Does your writing relate very closely to your visual work?
No. Very rarely do they overlap.

Do you spend time on research?
Yes, mostly of the gathering information and ideas kind. More so with regard to my art than my writing.

Do you use photographs or other images as sources of inspiration?
Sometimes, yes.

Are you concerned about factual accuracy?
Not really, unless it is non-fiction.

Is there a role for humour/satire/parody in your work?
Yes, over the years there have been various pieces. Collaborations with Luke Kennard and Paul Sutton have actually been quite savage in their satirical intent.

Is there are role for argot, slang, bad language or jargon in your work?
I recently used jargon in a sequence, but feel I questioned the terminology by the way it was collaged into the poems. Slang and bad language occur sometimes, but they’re not the focus of my work. I mainly try to use the vocabulary and rhythms of everyday language.

Is there a role for unconventional syntax in your work?
Yes, disrupting syntax focuses attention on the words and phrases themselves. Having said that I often smooth over the results of collage or remix so the disruption is more subtle.

Is there a role for unconventional typography in your work?
Not in a regular sense. David Miller did publish a couple of typographic/concrete poems last year through his Kater Murr press, but they aren’t the focus of my writing.

Is your work PC (politically correct)?
Not always, but if it’s not being non-PC is there for politically correct reasons!

What do you understand by inspiration?
Taking an idea and running with it. Perhaps the original phrase or image that intrigues and makes me want to write or paint something. Certainly not any mystical process tied up with muses or any such romantic nonsense. I don’t believe in writer’s block.

What does creativity mean to you?
Making things, doing things.

What impressions/ideas do you wish to communicate?
See my work. I have no over-riding philosophy to communicate, though I’d be pleased if readers of my poems became aware of the dynamic plasticity of language and slippery nature of ideas.

How important in your work is improvisation?
Not very.

Are there a few basic or key ideas that are essential to your work?
No, I have more and more ideas and theories I can draw on as I get older. In fact I probably spend more time thinking about the work now than physically painting or revising with my pen in hand.

Have you ever used synaesthesia effects in your work?
I don’t think so.

Are there a variety of different voices in your work?
Yes. As my book titles says, A Conference of Voices. I’m interested in ideas of conversations and discourse, and also the idea of a different voice emerging in the gaps of this conference.

Are there paradoxes and contradictions in your work?
Yes. The contradictions of multiple narrators and voices, the contradictions of non-personal and ‘untrue’ (or appropriated) confessions in my work.

Can you see an evolutionary curve in your creative development?

What are the elements that have contributed to your unique style?
I don’t think I have a unique style. I think the idea of a sole, original voice is rather archaic and not very useful.

Are there connections in your work between pieces in different forms and genres?

What is your attitude to genres like Thrillers, Crime Stories, SF, Fantasy or Horror?
I’m not a fan of horror, but I read books in all these other genres. Texts is texts is texts: some are enjoyable, some aren’t; some are well written, some aren’t. Good writing transcends established genres and invents new ones.

Do you think there is a moral purpose to your work?
No, although my sense of morals clearly informs the work.

What character types interest you?
All characters who are useful to my poem. Those whose words I can borrow or steal, those who help me fill up the page.

Do you produce works in series and cycles?
Yes, pretty much always, although I may recognise this in retrospect, or only when I come to shape and order a book.

What role does narrative play in your work?
It’s a fictional device. I tend to think my work contains narratives or narrative possibilities rather than ‘a narrative’.

What role does anachronism play in your work?

What role does perspective play in your work?
In my painting its there as an established pictorial device, one way of presenting distance and a point-of-view. I am not sure how I would translate that kind of idea into my writing.

What role does rhythm play in your work?
I try to have a spoken rhythm in my poems, that is my personal sense of musicality. Rhythm clearly informs the marks and patterns in, the structures of, my visual work.

What role does chance play in your work?
A large part in some ways, but I am in control of what gets collaged or montaged, and always edit the outcomes. There’s no sense of randomness, just self-disrupting and facilitating processes to keep me on my toes.

What role does form and structure play in your work?
I often use syllabic or word counts; I’m often strict about visual order, and stanza length. My work feels ordered to me.

What role do found objects or texts play in your work?
Appropriating and collage are prime parts of my writing. Found visual stuff probably remains as source material for my painting and drawing, although I occasionally collage visual material too.

What role does mood, feeling or atmosphere play on your work?
Very little.  I get on with it.

Do you use any specific techniques or methods?
Cut up engines online, Babelfish, hard work, word count, line structures, game procedures, invented rules… but not all the time. These are ways to keep myself on the edge, disrupt any lazy attempts at confessional poems, twee narratives or diaristic work.

What physical process do you use in your work?
Writing and typing. Holding a paintbrush or pencil.

Do you sketch different versions of the same picture?
Yes, but usually after I’ve started or even finished the picture.

Do you draft different versions of the same poem or prose work?

How long would one piece take on average?
Several months to finish, but a lot of the work is probably done in the first two weeks.

Have you ever decided to abandon a particular direction and start all over again?

Why do you continue to create new work today?
Some self-inflicted need or delusion.

Is your work dystopian or utopian?  Both
Is your work pastoral and Arcadian? No
Is your work a type of protest? No
Is your work polemical? Definitely not
Is your work a performance? No
Is your work impersonal? No
Is your work naturalistic? No
Is your work obscure or difficult? No, though sometimes people think so.
Is your work scandalous? No
Is your work scary? No
Is your work flamboyant/dramatic/theatrical? No
Is your work autobiographical? In part
Is your work confessional? Sometimes. I’m in the mix
Is your work extreme? No
Is your work figurative or representational? Not often
Is your work abstract? Yes
Is your work symbolic or allegorical? No
Is your work open to the fantastic? Hmmmm
Is your work open to nonsense and the absurd? Yes
Is your work consciously Modern? No
Is your work expressionistic? No
Is your work edgy? No
Is your work ironic? Sometimes
Is your work violent? No
Is your work sexy? Probably not
Is your work nostalgic? Sometimes
Is your work primitive? No
Is your work political? Occasionally
Is your work spiritual/religious or is it secular?
Secular with spiritual undertones. Actually, no, I’m not sure work can be spiritual. It’s secular work made by someone who is in part spiritual/religious.
Does your work deal with cosmic themes? Nope
Is your work heading toward some ultimate goal? Nope

Regarding present social trends and fashions, are you optimistic or pessimistic?
Pessimistic: I think Western capitalism is coming to an end, which is good, but will result in social and political upheaval. I also think there will be some kind of information or technology crash before too long, which will also result in severe disruption, upheaval and change.

Are you hostile to modern life?
Parts of it. I don’t like having to drive everywhere, I’m not convinced access to information is the same as understanding, and a lot of things seem to be revisiting the past at the moment rather than actually addressing the present or future.

Do we live in an age of decadence?
No. Most people I know are too busy struggling to survive.

Do you make a distinction of value between High and Popular culture?
No. It’s just culture in all its glory.

Do you differentiate between the mainstream and the alternative or ‘underground’?
Not anymore. The mainstream is shrinking, everything is accessible and up for grabs, networks mean small like-minded communities exist virtually.

Do you find the everyday more significant than the metaphysical?

Do you see a conflict between art and entertainment?
Yes. Entertainment seems to me to currently be moving toward lowest-common-denominator with a lack of serious concern or artistic purpose.

‘Entertainment seems to me to currently be moving toward lowest-common-denominator with a lack of serious concern or artistic purpose.’

Do you approve or disapprove of the decorative and the ornate?
I’m not good on the ornate, but decorative is okay. I might question the idea that something’s main purpose is decoration.

Do you see a conflict between science and religion?
I think there’s a false conflict being touted at the moment. Both are tentative, I dislike fundamentalist approaches in either domain.

Do you see a conflict between art and science?
Not particularly. I think there are clearly theorized and conceptualized ideas about how the arts – in some form or other – are necessary to balanced and healthy lives. If this is denied by scientists we have problems, but I think – as someone who studied A Level Pure and Applied Maths – the sciences can be as creative and aesthetic as the arts. Without being woolly or New Age I think we need to be open to all ideas, then discuss and critique them.

How do you feel about the mass media and advertising?
I’m not sure. We like to think we’re savvy and understand it, but presumably advertising still works so therefore we are still being manipulated and told what to buy. Personally I’d like to see less competition and more community and localism.

Do you watch TV a lot?
Not if I can help it.  An hour of small screen and I’m bored, it physically doesn’t hold my attention. If I lived alone the dishwasher and the TV would be out the door, the stereo on all day, and more bookshelves moved into the lounge.

What do you think about cybernetics, cyberspace and virtual reality?
Interesting stuff that I pretty much don’t understand. The net is useful but not the be-all-and-end-all; in the end I think they are only communications tools. I was talking to the head of Illustration today and he was saying there is quite a revolt among designers and illustrators today against the computer: they are moving back to drawing and painting the original then scanning it in for manipulation and reproduction.

My friend Tim, who works with A.I., seems fairly convinced that thought is to do with complexity, and that if we could somehow link enough stuff together we would create a working brain (He argues that much better than my version suggests), but I am not so sure.

Again, we were discussing today the fact that our students aren’t as media savvy as we think they are and expect them to be. They’re good at what they do, but not at lateral thinking: sometimes they can’t think of the words that will produce a useful Google result for their research. For whatever reason I don’t think we yet have true digital natives in the world, and of course superseded mediums find their own place to survive, so radio, books, TV etc. will continue to exist for the foreseeable future.

Closer to home, I still have a paper archive of my work as well as hard drive back-ups. Poetry made up of zeroes and ones still seems not really there to me…

What do you think about fashion?
It doesn’t interest me.

What do you think about politics?
Power should never be given to those who want it.

Do you have a view on social class?
I think class is disappearing, but poverty is returning. The divide between the rich and poor is clearly growing and the current government want it that way.

Does democracy work?
Democracy can work, but democracy means 9 people in agreement, not 5 outvoting 4 and getting their own way.

Are you conservative?
Part of me is small c conservative; big C Conservative? No way! Tory scum.

Is your work intended to improve society and contribute to civilisation?
Only in the kind of terms I’ve mentioned above, that the arts contribute to social, mental and spiritual well-being. Not in any change-the-world manner, no.

Do you have a view on the future direction of the arts?

No, although I hope they will move away from the flippant, jokey, conceptual and ephemeral. There’s clearly a return to the curated show at the moment, usually over curated IMHO.

Do you try to develop an individual aesthetic, poetic or philosophy?

Do you have any views on the ‘death of the author’ proposition?
I think this has been blown out of all proportion. Barthes is simply talking about the reader constructing and interpreting the text through the act of reading. It seems a truism to me.

Is art a vocation?
If you want it to be.

Is the artistic Muse and outmoded idea?
Should art be ambiguous?
Yes and no.

Is artistic innovation still possible, or has everything worth saying already been said?
Innovation may involve revisitation, close focus, new angles or takes on things, as much as new mediums/media or avant-garde progression.

Are you concerned with artistic purity?

Do you agree with the idea of ‘autonomous’ art or Art for Art’s Sake?
Yes, but it always has an audience, so art can’t finally live in splendid isolation.

What is the psychological function of art?
Articulation of thought? Provocation? Exploration? Who knows? Psychological response will be as varied as any other response.

Do you think your work reflects your early life experiences and memories?
To a certain extent it can’t fail to.

Can artistic creativity be defined as a quest or a journey?
If that’s a useful metaphor for anyone then yes. It seems a bit of a cliché to me.

Can artistic creativity be defined as a mode of discovery or exploration?
Ditto, but yes. If you know what you’re going to paint or write it doesn’t need writing. I like to surprise myself.

Does art expand consciousness?

Can art be destructive?

Can art be therapeutic?
Yes but it doesn’t have to be.

Is there a link between artistic creativity and mental disturbance?
Not always, no, but there can be. As you know various ideas of outside art and/or surrealist art, along with art therapy ideas would argue that there is.

Have you ever experienced a spiritual crisis? How has this affected your work?
Yes. It is clearly the subject of some of my poems, but not in any end-of-the-world life-or-death way.

Do you accept the existence of the unconscious mind?
Do you use dreams in your work?

What do you often dream about?
I really don’t remember my dreams.

Do you deliberately try to bypass the conscious mind when you work?

To what degree do you control the content of your work?
Always. How can anybody not?

Are there levels of automatism in your work?

Do you have an artistic persona or alter ego?
No, I gather voices in my poems.

Do you see illustration as separate from fine art?
Only if the artist/illustrator decides that is the case.

Is your work avant-garde/experimental?

Are you interested in non-linear narrative, collage and juxtaposition?

Are you interested in the arts of indigenous peoples?
Not especially.

Are you interested in visual distortions and Mannerist effects?

Are you interested in optical effects?

Are you didactic?

How do you define style?
I don’t.

What is your idea of the ‘alien’?
Beings from other planets.

What do you understand by ‘otherness’?
 People who are out of the ordinary in some way, whether intended or not. Things or people that are strange or different, not what we expect, not the norm.

Do you see yourself as an alchemist searching for the Philosopher’s Stone?
Not at all.

Is it possible to be experimental in content but not experimental in form?

Do you agree with the idea of an established canon or repertoire of Great Works?
No, it’s an outdated idea. One good thing that arose out of Postmodernism was the getting rid of lazy linear histories and the foregrounding of alternative versions.

Do you agree with the idea that abstraction can deal with inexpressible concepts?
No, we think in language, so although it sometimes hard we can talk about everything.

Should art disturb the status quo? Can there be such a thing as revolutionary art?
Art can provoke and unsettle, cause debate – we’ve seen it with the likes of Damien Hirst or Tracey Emin, so it can definitely disturb the status quo. I’m less convinced it can be revolutionary.

Is agitprop bad art?
Usually. I suspect if you want polemic and diatribe, or even a reasoned discussion there are better ways to facilitate that than issues-driven poetry or art.

Do you avoid cliché and ‘dead metaphor’?
It try to.

Why do people usually prefer the familiar to confrontation with the new (e.g. art)?
They are lazy and want to be entertained. They, for instance, think painting is about pictorial narrative, whereas if they are interested in painting they would also discuss the material object itself.

Is defamiliarization a good idea?

Are you interested in cultural and critical theory?
Yes. Again, I can’t help but be as it informs teaching English.

What is your view on censorship?
In principal I am against censorship, but as a father I am also aware there may be times when content is clearly flagged up and thought is given to those who do not wish to engage or may be too young to be allowed to engage with it.

Is art about shared values?

Do you conceive of a contemporary context, or are you working in isolation?
I work much of the time in isolation but I am in a contemporary context because I am alive now, talk to other people, publish my work now, etc.

What are your artistic aspirations?
To write and paint.

How do you place yourself historically?
I am not history yet!

‘I am not history yet!’


Do you believe in luck? No

Have you ever seen a UFO? No

Have you ever seen a ghost?
I saw something in an abandoned factory when I was 9, but I wouldn’t like to make a case for psychic energy or after-death memory. That’s a no.

Do you want to be famous? 
Not really. I’d like to sell more books.

Can you list ten favourite books?
Stone Junction, Jim Dodge; The Greater Trumps, Charles Williams; The Dog King, Christopher Ramsay; Tree of Smoke, Denis Johnson; The City & The City, China Miéville; The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles, Haruki Murakami; The Map and the Territory, Michel Houellebecq; Chronicle in Stone, Ismail Kadare; The Songlines, Bruce Chatwin; Kensington Gardens, Rodrigo Fresan; My Revolutions, Hari Kunzru; The House of Rumour, Jake Arnott; Red Shift, Alan Garner; Riddley Walker, Russell Hoban.
That’s the fiction. Then there’d be Alan Halsey’s Robin Hood Book, Selected Poems by Paul Blackburn, Collected Poems by Robert Creeley, and other poetry books by Sheila Murphy, Charles Wright, Robert Duncan, Ted Hughes, Peter Redgrove, Jorie Graham, Allen Fisher, Cole Swensen and Dean Young.
Then I’d have to go and look at the art books….

Which book do you wish you had written?
I can’t narrow that to one.

Can you list ten favourite bands/musicians?
Cabaret Voltaire, Bruce Cockburn, Van der Graaf Generator, Yes,  Miles Davis, Eyeless in Gaza, King Crimson, Steely Dan, Anthony Braxton, Sun Ra
And lots more…

Can you list eight tracks for your ‘Desert Island Discs’?
‘Silver Bird is Heading for the Sun’, Terje Rypdal
‘Horse and Crow’, Peter Case
‘Mission: To Be Where I Am’, Jan Garbarek
‘Summing Elements’, Ekca Liena & Spheruleus
‘Slow Train’, Flanders & Swann
‘Verdi Cries’, June Tabor
‘All I Need is Everything’, Over the Rhine
‘Ostranenie’, Nurse with Wound

8 is impossible. 800 might be better.

Which authors/artists (past or present) would you invite to a dinner party?
Thomas Merton, Robert Creeley, David Toop, Fra Angelico, Charles Williams and Brian Louis Pearce.

Is life like a movie?
No, it’s more like the Pearl & Dean theme tune and then the adverts.

Which movie would you have liked to direct?
Apocalypse Now.

Can you list ten favourite movies?
Rollerball, Soylent Green, Steelyard Blues, The Last of England, Hobo, Don’t Look Now, The Wicker Man, The Jungle Book, London, Performance.

Can you name your favourite current movie?
No, I haven’t been to the cinema for yonks, apart from the odd kids’ movie.

Can you name your favourite film/TV/stage star? No. But Twin Peaks is the TV show. And Thunderbirds.

Can you list your ten pet hates?
Unpunctuality, messiness, disorder, hair in the bath, showers, rain, coaches, celery, mayonnaise, nationalism.

Which fictional character(s) would you imagine yourself to be?
 I played Young Pip in a musical adaptation of Great Expectations in London when I was 9. Perhaps Pip, whose sense of bewilderment and aspiration in life seems to stand him in good stead in many ways. I don’t really know. I always loved Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes, perhaps one of those boys caught up in a carnival of time and death. Maybe that’s me anyway, always worrying about lack of time, always trying to put things in too much order. I’m not very good at living in the moment.

If you could go anywhere created from your imagination where would it be, what would it be like?
It would be a metropolis, full of art, music and fantastic bookshops. New York meets Glasgow meets London. My house would be clean, white and have plenty of space. Money and time would be no object, though ideally the former wouldn’t be required. My back garden would be Tuscany though. Perhaps my imagination doesn’t work so well these days? It’s almost achievable…. 

You’re welcome. Goodbye.

Image: Rupert M Loydell, Irvin, oil on paper, 2013
'From a series of works on paper made
using homemade plastic scrapers. so kind of screenprinted without a

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