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Interview with Peter Rose

October 1993, no. 155

Interview with Peter Rose

October 1993, no. 155

How does this book fit in with your development as a poet?

I think its’s fundamentally different. The House of Vitriol (a late first book, I was thirty-five when it appeared) was largely the work of about seven or eight years, but the earliest poem in it was written when I was sixteen, so it’s a big sprawling thing covering a lot of subjects and quite a lot of techniques – some of them really inchoate. And it was an unusually long book. This new book, which was written over about three years, has a kind of unity. But I don’t approach any book of poems globally. I’m a lazy reader of poetry. I never sit down with a book and read it right through. It may take me six months to a year to get to know a book even when I’m fond of the poet. Unlike some poets who will shape a book, and have that unity in mind, I don’t. I’m not deliberately setting out to achieve a harmony between poems.

You must be aware when you place poems that what is around each one will affect the reading of it.

Chance really comes into it. I find that aspect of it really very difficult, and it takes a hell

of a long time. I scattered them around the dining room floor, and after two hours I came up with some sort of order, then undid it, and saw if I came up with the same order a second time. There’s a lot of randomness.

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