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Anne Caldwell
Interview Date: Mon 28 Feb 2011
Anne Caldwell grew up in the North West of England and is a writer and literature consultant. Her poetry has been published in three anthologies;  Poet’s Cheshire (Headland), The Nerve (Virago) and Only Connect (Cinnamon Press) as well as being widely published in British magazines and she has a pamphlet called Slug Language (Happenstance Press).  

The Hub's Cara Brennan asks the questions about her debut full collection Talking with the Dead which was published after she won the Cinnamon Press prize. Anne will be reading from her collection in Hebden Bridge on the 6th  and in London on the 15th of March.

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Your Questions Answered:

All of the poems from ‘The Underwater House’ follow a similar theme, how easy is it to stick to a theme when completing poems for a collection, and was this intentional?
Question By: Cara Brennan
The Underwater House was conceived as a sequence, following a story line. So it was intentional. It was quite easy to write this particular piece as the story came it me when I was away for a week writing in North Wales. I am really interested in the idea of the poetry sequence as it gives you more scope to develop a bigger subject matter.
The poetry in this collection has a wonderful musicality to it ‘fumbled each other in a forest of grooved sugar’ (from Forcing Shed) when writing the poetry for this collection how important was the way it sounded in spoken word, I really enjoy reading at Poetry events because it adds a whole new dimension to my work, how important do you consider events like these in terms of your own poetry?
Question By: Cara Brennan
Thank you! I am really pleased that you thought the collection had music in it as this is very important to me. I read all my work out to myself alone in my house and must look very odd to postmen, meter readers and casual callers! I do a lot of events and enjoy reading work out aloud. It seems to bring the words to life off the page as well as in book form.
Poems in your collection such as ‘Angel’ give a local voice to inanimate objects; where else do you get your inspiration from when writing in character?
Question By: Cara Brennan
I have thought a lot about the idea of marginal characters in this book, and voices that are rarely heard. The Blackbirds baked in a pie for instance, or the sister in Six Swan Brothers. I also like giving objects a voice to speak and have really enjoyed some of Charles Simic's poems that do the same thing; 'My Shoes' and 'Watermelons' for instance. (Charles Simic, Selected Poems 1963-2003)
Many of the poems in the collection cover female themes such as motherhood/pregnancy, how have these experiences shaped the way your writing has evolved?
Question By: Cara Brennan
These themes seem to have been the ones that have been uppermost in my life in recent years and have crept into my poetry. I would imagine as life evolves, other themes will emerge. I am writing about the idea of space and solitude at the moment which feels very timely! I am keen that all of life experience is there to be written about from big events such as pregnancy and birth to smaller ones such as a view from a train window.
You completed an MA in writing at Manchester Met, how important do you feel postgraduate study in creative writing in terms of establishing yourself as a published writer?
Question By: Cara Brennan
It was very important as a way of getting good critical feedback and helping to build my confidence. I went back to study as a mature student and really enjoyed the deadlines, group workshops and being part of a writing community. I do think it is possible to achieve these things without doing an MA. I did however, start taking my writing more seriously because of this period of study.
As all young writers want to know, how did getting your first collection ‘Talking with the Dead’ published come about?
Question By: Cara Brennan
 I had been sending poems to Cinnamon Press for a number of years and had been featured in quite a few of this publisher's anthologies. I then applied three times for their first collection award - an annual competition. I was successful on the third attempt and was joint winner with a poet called Sally Douglas. So tenacity helps!
What are your top three tips for aspiring young writers looking to get published?
Question By: Cara Brennan
I would suggest making sure that your writing is the best it can be and well edited before sending any work off. I would regularly send poems or short stories for publication in magazines. My last tip would be to look out for first collection awards and have a manuscript ready to send off for these opportunities.