‘War and Peas’ by Michael Foreman, one of the great British children’s illustrators. His watercolours are so lovely you could almost eat them, just as members of the target audience have been trying to do for decades.
At school, I was never given a sense that poetry was something flowery or light. It’s a complex and controlled way of using language. Rhythms and the music of it are very important. But the difficulty is that poetry makes some kind of claim of honesty.
People have expectations of what you are as a writer. And writers, on the whole, don’t like to be classified.
If, at a party, I say I’m a poet, people have a hard time responding, almost as if I’d said I’m a priest.
The problem with themes is that writers don’t realise they are themes until someone points them out.
As a child, l was fascinated by gemstones in the way that small children are fascinated by dinosaurs or trains. Stones seem very physical and look like sweets. You can look at them microscopically and imagine things about them.
Alice Oswald. With Hughes and Heaney gone, people are looking around for the best British and Irish poets. Oswald is one of our finest.
My strong suits, coming from poetry, will naturally be description, which I love doing. It comes very easily, and possibly structure, up to a point.
With a novel, there is no hurrying it. You’re constantly walking into the unknown.