Interview with prize-winning poet Rachael Boast

16 October 2011

Rachael Boast was interviewed by The Poetry School where she is a tutor. Rachael recently won the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. Here's an extract from the interview.

Poetry is, among other things, an exercise in accessing what we don’t know we know; in training the mind to think clearly; in cleansing perception. Your collection 'Sidereal' is infused with themes of astronomy and the universe. What techniques do you use to go about packing the hugeness of a theme like the universe into such neat, clean poems?

The first technique I’d employ is to look down the wrong end of a telescope. If that doesn’t do it, the next technique, if it can be called that, is to think as little as possible about what I’m doing. Trusting the work is the starting point. Trust can be considered as much a poetic technique as the detailed meticulous work of getting the poem to come right. I trust that my mind is more expansive then I realise. Poetry is, among other things, an exercise in accessing what we don’t know we know; in training the mind to think clearly; in cleansing perception. Blake, for instance, experienced the hugeness of the universe in every small thing, and we could take that as including every event, every thought, every cell in fact. So perhaps, as they say, we are all made of stars, or at least the dust of stars. Overall, this philosophic stance, it would seem to me, is a prerequisite to any subsequent literary technique. When poems seem clean and neat, that’s because there’s been enough preparation. The rest is a matter of diligent work – the plough turned round.

 

Read the full interview with Rachael.

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