January 9, 2015

My Interview with Poet Ray Morgan

Photo copyright Ray Morgan

I am honored to interview poet, writer, assistant director of Sundown arts, Ray Morgan, from Leigh-on-sea, Essex, UK. I came across Ray's blog raypoetry.blogspot.co.uk/ by accident and since fell in love with her writing. Her poems and articles have been published in numerous magazines and on websites, and she does live performances of her poems at festivals and on radio. Thank you, Ray, for letting us meet the woman behind the words!

Chalkwell beach.
by Ray Morgan

Cirrus clouds are meteorite scars on a
great blue hope of sky, all
streaked and cotton-candied,
best wishes written on a greetings card
in a hurry,
reflected on the water.
The trees on the way to the beach shush each other,
clapping leaves over their mouths
to quiet their sound.
Right now I'm thinking of the time
we made huge pieces of art from
old doors found in alleyways,
and burned them on the sand. We 
and drank and people
played guitars and banged on drums and 
smoked cigarettes and
wandered into the sea.
They were the trees that watched us,
creating grateful rooms of shadow
on a hot day,
lending us a place to stand.
Someone has pressed bottle tops into the soft,
tarry payment by the beach,
and each time we go, there's more.
It's easy to forget the trains that
slink past us,
lean and purple cats, stretching on a strip
of track from our universe to the real world.
We swim.
And old man comes down here in a wheelchair,
grumbling across the sand
with legs that don't work but a
will that works a hundred times as hard,
hauling himself into the sea to swim,
at high tide every day.
In that moment, when you see him,
your heart goes with him, out into the swell.
With the sun on our faces and
soft sand at our feet, I pick at bits of driftwood and
coiled shells, beachcombing,
watching the trees dance their dance.
Watching the man swim out where weightlessness
make him feel alive.
Photo copyright Ray Morgan

Tell me a little about yourself.

I have always loved writing. I used to sit at my mum's typewriter and bash out terrible Enid Blyton rip-off stories from the age of about 7 onwards.I did a degree in Creative Writing, which included whole semesters on poetry, and discovered that I didn't want to be a journalist (the original plan) so got into marketing instead. So now I write words for other people, but it still means I get to write, and do poetry in my spare time.

What was the first poem that you remember writing? 

I was in Cornwall, around aged 9, and I wrote a poem describing the beautiful scenery. The next day, my dad bought me a notebook to write poems in. I still have that book! And that first poem was not bad. The ones that followed were pretty dire though. I went through a stage of writing very syrupy poems about Christmas. Not cool.

Tell me about your journey with poetry.

I loved writing poems at school, but I seemed to skip the 'teenage angst' phase. I picked it up again at university and have not stopped since. In about 2007 I performed poetry live for the first time and love doing that now. I have got to perform in some brilliant places. But what I have learned is that you have to gauge the poems on the night: you just never know what the audience is going to be like. Setlists are great for bands, but poetry audiences can differ greatly. 

Do you have routines when you write?

Not really. I usually write on my lunch breaks. But the inspiration has to take me: I can't sit at an empty Word document with the cursor blinking and say "Now I am going to write a poem" - there's too much pressure!

Where do you draw influence from?

Everything. An overheard sentence, the way the sky looks, how it felt to eat a particular kind of food on a particular kind of day. Sometimes I like to get into the head of a fictional character and write from their point of view.

How often do you write?

For work, every day - but creatively, I'm averaging about 4 or 5 times a week.

How do you know when a poem is finished, and do you ever go back to it?

"A poem is never finished, only abandoned" - I love that quote. You could go back over it forever and still tweak it. You have to be strict with yourself when it comes to the 'abandoning'!

Who inspires you, in the literary sense?

Classically, I'd say Christina Rossetti, as she used the world around her in her poems. Kate Atkinson writes beautiful, heartbreaking novels. Joanna Newsom for her lyrics, and Mike Leigh for his films that show truth and real lives.

What is your revision process like?

Very scant. I tend to just go for it, and try not to look back.

Do you have a favorite poem of yours? What about a favorite poem of someone else’s?

I like the one I wrote about working in a seaside gift shop, because out of season it really was both the most boring yet most entertaining job in the world. It takes me back to a fun time in my life. I really loved that shop!

As for other people's, there are tons! But most of all, I love the simplicity of This Is Just To Say by William Carlos Williams. It says so much with so little, and I really love that. I strive for that economy and storytelling in mine, and it inspires me every time I read it.

I hope you all enjoyed my interview with Ray Morgan! If you would like to read more of her poems visit  http://raypoetry.blogspot.co.uk/. Thank you for visiting!

by Ray Morgan

The shortest day;
a low globe of iced melon sun.
Our burning friend is at his
a stony face looking out upon the mud.
All landscapes here are monochrome,
the colour saving itself
for brighter times.
All birds fly in silhouette.
All thoughts tend towards reflection.
The longest night;
midwinter but a moment in time.
We hurtle towards the end of the year,
knowing not what awaits us,
knowing only what has been.