Katharine Towers on The Floating Man

20 October 2010

Poet Katharine Towers talks about her debut collection. The Floating Man​, and how nature and music have shaped her poetry.

by Katharine Towers

I've identified the collection's two main centres of gravity - music and nature. The music poems often use as their starting point a given form (fugue, counterpoint, concerto etc.). I think I'm interested in how articulating what happens in a piece of music might also cast light on how we behave or feel as human beings. Such attempts, of course, can only ever be approximations. Really, Mendelssohn has it - music's precision is something that poetry will always have to aspire to.

If music knows better than we do, then the same is perhaps true of the trees and birds in some of the nature poems. I don't suggest that they are 'wise' in any fey/hocus-pocus way, but that they might have something that would be useful to us, if we knew what it was. A kittiwake's self-sufficiency and the cerebralism of an ash tree in winter are really just suggestions. Which is perhaps where the floating man comes in. Would he want to come back, knowing what he knows at the end of the poem?

The poems were written over a period of about five years. I listened to lots of music and we moved to a house in the middle of nowhere. I think you can tell that from reading the poems. But that's enough about me.

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