Discussing ideas around language, self-hood, the meaning of Magna Carta in the modern world, and more, Remi Graves, an ex-maths teacher turned drummer and poet, will be 1215.today’s digital Poet-in-Residence for the next 6 weeks
What was the first poem you had a real connection with?
Elizabeth Bishop’s ‘To A Tree’ struck a chord with me when I first read it at 17 – no wonder I connected with it then, she wrote it at 16! It is a simple plea for transcendence and community expressed through the speaker’s wish to connect to the peaceful tree outside her window. Only now in answering this question have I realised that her poem influenced the first poem I wrote, which uses snowfall as a metaphor for life and death.
Name your favourite recently discovered poet.
Zia Ahmed (@ziasighs on twitter) – he’s a London based poet. He does wonderful things with language and somehow manages to strike the balance between playful and poignant. I admire the way he consistently tackles big ‘sociopolitical’ topics with creativity, tenderness and authenticity. Everyone should know him – #Zia4poetlaureate
Book or kindle?
Book hands down, I don’t trust things I can’t feel…
Kayne or Eminem?
Hahaha neither – if you’d asked me 5 or 6 years ago, I would have said Kanye. Unfortunately he is currently in the sunken place and is no longer making crucial, genre-bending or thought provoking music. I hope he finds his way again though, College Dropout still pops up on my shuffle from time to time!
What do you think will be the big issue of 2017?
I think community will be the big issue of 2017, how to maintain it despite governmental attempts to divide populations along financial, political, religious, ethnic lines etc. Forming communities (in digital and real life spaces) will be crucial to our survival – I’ve felt that already in the last few months (some online spaces have been safe havens for me). As threats to our privacy and selfhoods increase worldwide (especially for those of us who are marginalised) the big question will be how can we keep our communities thriving in the face of the turbulence, and also how we can forge new communities and keep making connections with other humans. I could have said Isolation will be 2017’s big issue – but I hope focusing on community as its antidote is more helpful.
Free verse or form poetry?
Mmm, it’s a tricky one – but recently I’ve started to think free verse poetry has most impact when the verse is freeing itself from some kind of formal constraints. It has to be pushing or pulling against something. If you can navigate different forms, you’re probably more likely to do interest things with the words, subverting the form to create something new. So I would say freed verse (which I hope implies some kind of relationship or tension with form even if it’s not explicitly present) is most exciting!
What’s the last book you read?
In the last year, I’ve kind of ditched novels and have been reading the same poetry collections on repeat: Andrew Macmillan’s Physical and Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric. Although actually novel wise, Ben Okri’s Famished Road is the last thing I read – though I’ve yet to finish it properly :/ . Also his writing is so dense and lush, it probably counts as poetry to be honest…
What’s your favourite poetic period/movement?
The Now! I think we spend to much time idolising the past and the so called CANON, which is why people think poetry is dry and dusty. There are loads of old poets I love but there’s also so much innovation going on today, with poetry fusing with other forms, live performance, photography, dance – I feel lucky to be able to experience it all.
If you won the lottery, what would be the first thing you’d buy.
A house for my mum in Senegal or Morocco.
What’s your favourite word?
Kintsukuroi – it’s the Japanese art of repairing pottery with gold lacquer. But I love it for it’s wider meaning, that things are all the more beautiful for having been broken.
You can read a little more about Remi here , stay tuned for her first post!