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Daniel Sluman
Interview Date: Thu 3 Feb 2011
Daniel Sluman was born in Oxford, in 1986. He started writing poetry when he embarked on a BA in English Literature and Creative Writing in 2008. Since then he has been published widely in UK based print journals and e-zines, and has performed regularly in the Gloucestershire area. His first full-length collection will be published in the UK next year through Nine Arches Press

The last call

For an hour you suck
my blood through the wire,

choke out 'pleases'
as my 'sorrys' litter the air

like discarded receipts.
In my head I flick through

the snapshots of 'us'
backwards, unwinding

to the final frame;
we are in a bar

& your high-school smile
eases over your teeth

as you say 'hello',
the phone goes dead.

Your Questions Answered:

Does poetry matter anymore?
Question By: Wes Brown
Absoloutely. Unfortunately, at the moment it seems to matter more to other poets than the general public, but there's no reason why it shouldn't be as readily consumed and as vital as any other art form, like music, or film. The problem most of the time is social reflection; a lot of contemporary poetry doesn't reflect contemporary existence, neither in content or in diction, and if I read something that doesn't say anything to me about my life then why should I bother? I think that each generation feels a similar way about the poetry of their time but the division in what's written (and how it's written) versus what's experienced by the general public seems especially wide today, but it doesn't have to be.

Do you regard popular forms like rap and lyrics as poetry? Or is poetry something similar but different? I'm thinking of somebody like Mike Skinner from The Streets.
Question By: Wes Brown
I definitely do consider them poetry. I think any controlled use of language can be defined as poetry, from a scattering of phrases littered in a public toilet, to instructions for a microwave. When it comes to song lyrics, I spent most of my teens listening to Thom Yorke or Ian Curtis, and even taking away the music, the words still had an emotional impact on me, and that is poetry. The commercial success of intelligent, socially aware rap, like that of Mike Skinner, just goes to show that the public (and especially my generation) can still be affected by language as an art form.
What made you choose poetry and not one of these "popular" forms? Do you think poetry might have an image problem?
Question By: Wes Brown
Originally I did! I went to the University of Northampton to do a course in music production, and spent four years practising scales and harmony to the end of composing jazz/classical music. The reason I moved over to poetry was based on the creative possibilities inherent within it. The twelve notes of western music are dwarfed by the amount of words available in the English language, and so I moved ship to something which I consider harder, less commercially viable, but more rewarding.

In terms of image -– the likes of film, theatre and music are in a much healthier position then poetry. We're never going to see Andrew Motion in a poetry video surrounded by young nubile girls in their underwear, rythmically grinding to his pentameter. A lot of people consider most poetry to be dry and overtly academic, rather than immediate and accessible, and they've got a point. Good poetry can take many reading to sift through the possible meanings and find the depth of feeling, but if it isn't accessible enough on the surface to reel the reader in from the start then it doesn't matter, and that type of writing without the reader in mind will always damage the image of poetry.
Your debut collection will be published next year. What was your process like? With the way the industry now is, do you think it's as important to be able to get word of your book out as much as write it?
Question By: Wes Brown
At the moment my process is pretty straightforward; I scribble down snatches of conversations, single-lines, ideas, forms etc... into my notebook and then leave it. After a few days I might come back and add to it, scrap whole verses, change the form, and then leave it again. After repeating this for between two weeks to a month something is usually cohesive enough to put into Word, where I'll see how settled it looks. About one out of three poems will get past this stage to the point where I submit it to a magazine, but most of the time they're left to gather dust in folders on my computer.

As you've implied, it definately is the case that exposing a book of poetry to the public is incredibly important too. Poetry is getting less shelf-space in the big book chains than ever before, and it's not an art form that gets regularly exposed to us through the media (except on Radio 4). It's vital that the author works on getting as much publicity for the book as possible, but it's also brilliant when you're with a publisher that pro-actively supports and promotes you, which is why I'm so happy that this collection is coming out through Nine Arches Press.
If you weren't writing poems, what would you be doing?
Question By: Wes Brown
I'd probably still be getting myself in a stupid amount of student debt, but through pursuing music, or something else artsy (I really wasn't made for hard labour). When I was younger I wanted to be a marine biologist so I could save Great White Sharks from possible extinction, but I'd like to think I'm making just as much impact on this world by writing poems about meeting women in bars.

What's it like being published? What happens? What would you say this collection is about?
Question By: Wes Brown
It's absoloutely amazing. I still haven't quite processed it yet, but It's everything I've been working towards since I started  writing seriously three years ago. Now I've got to send my work back and forth to the editors over the next eighteen months or so and over time  see the group of poems take shape and point towards a specific direction.

I know that I want this collection to reflect a lot of experiences that I think aren't currently represented enough within poetry today. There will almost certainly be poems about complexities within relationships, drug culture, self-destructive behaviour etc...I want it to be gritty and I want it to be painfully honest. I want it to create that feeling that I get when I've finished reading a great poem and as I put the book down it feels like something has rearranged inside of me.