Niall O'Sullivan

high brow, low brow, none of that stuff in the middle

What I’m doing now – 1/8/17

Posted on | August 1, 2017 | 1 Comment

I am putting the finishing touches to my still untitled New and Selected poems. It feels good to draw a line between now and the rest of my career. It gives me the mental space to try something new or simply stop writing for a while (newsflash- not going to happen).

I am currently writing a lot poetry wise but going against my habit of the last few years of putting it online. This isn’t because I suddenly want people to pay for my work (though my books are available online!) but because sometimes the creative act has to be a bit more private during certain transitional phases. I share the odd line here and there if I find it strange or funny enough but nothing more than that. I feel like I’m starting over in a lot of ways, that I have exhausted the possibilities of the styles and forms that I used previously. Starting again like this is always messy and as conducive to bouts of frustration as it is to fits of poetic frenzy.

It’s currently the school holidays so I am the full time carer for two daughters, not getting much done otherwise. Many people in poetry and the arts don’t have kids, which is probably a sensible strategy. There seems to be an idea that this isn’t real work and that a parent can simply get through the day, put the sprogs to bed and then knuckle down to some proper graft. This is down to to some superhuman parents that actually manage to do this. They are not the norm, they are freaks. All I want to do by then is drink a single beer and watch Netflix with the Duchess. I get work done in opportunistic bites throughout the day. Not much “deep work” gets done. It’s a crappy way of working but it’s the only way I can do it during school holidays.

Current influences:

Sleaford Mods – I feast or famine with this band. I either blast my eardrums for days or even weeks and then don’t touch them for a few months before going back to them. I will always be an angry man, though I work hard at being aware of it and dealing with it. Still, anger is often a sign that things aren’t as up to scratch as we’d like them to be and Sleaford Mods currently seem to be the best at using this anger creatively. There’s no way you could recreate their mixture of in your face lyrics with raw stripped down beats with a poem. But you can use it as a handy metronome for your own work. You can steal some of their fire.

Chelsey Minnis (all of them)

Another artist I have to be in the mood for and then read hardly anyone else. She’s funny, irreverent and experimental. A poet’s poet, as the saying goes. She writes with a healthy contempt for the tropes, styles and power plays of the mainstream academic. Her craft is informed by the aesthetics of amateurism rather than being amateurish within itself.

Nick Cave – The Sick Bag Song

Reading this for a third time. It got the usual frosty reception from poets that is reserved for successful outsiders trying a hand at their craft and shifting plenty of units to the audience they have amassed from their proper career (Also see Franco, James). That said, I think that Cave’s book is genuinely ambitious and his outsider success allows him to play with tropes and ideas that insiders wouldn’t dare for fear of self indulgence and cliche. Cave’s book of poems drafted on airline sick bags while on tour is exciting in concept and execution. As a scriptwriter he has an instinct for when the audience’s attention might be waning and keeps his thematic plates spinning to that tempo. The book runs out of steam at the end and Cave schleps over the finish line not long after he’s roared out of the blocks. However, he’s still produced something unique that addresses the problems and dead ends within mainstream poetry without necessarily remedying them.

Henry Jenkins

He reads at Unplugged sometimes, writes very short and pithy poems that are the polar opposite of the three minute epiphanies or hokey reminiscences of the Spoken Word circuit. I’m fascinated to see how far he’ll push it. When he started out a few years back you could spot the Bukowski influences but now I think he’s just about reached escape velocity from that ubiquitous influence.


One Response to “What I’m doing now – 1/8/17”

  1. Jason palmer
    November 29th, 2017 @ 7:01 am

    Poems to read to kids for sale by you at the school gate and farmers markets ? Buy em now ?

    Know what you mean on living in the moment amd yet old poems can be dusted off, seen as gems or played with for new variations.

    Use high quality compost, best seeds and a cloche to gain an edge ?

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