I took a fairly predictable teenage route into poetry, discovering Dylan Thomas and falling under his spell. I had an English teacher at high school who was a keen poetry reader, and she ignited my interest in writing it. She led me to Michael Longley, still a favourite.
As a poet I prefer lyric poetry. I have a lot of time for confessional poetry and American stuff, though not necessarily Beat or Black Mountain school. I also enjoy extinct movements such as the New Apocalypse which was really the disowned precursor of the Movement (which, apart from Larkin, is a sort of smug, arid university poetry I’ve never enjoyed).
Reviewing is about giving the book a fair trial and the attention it needs but perhaps doesn’t receive. Once in a blue moon I get paid for my reviews, but that isn’t the reason I do it, nor is it for free review copies. I think it’s really important for poets to be good critics as well and you should cut your teeth early. The most satisfying thing is to get a message from the poet under review saying they feel I really ‘got’ what the book was about.
I procrastinate by playing guitar, chopping wood, going bottle digging or mudlarking. I rearrange the library, read booksellers’ catalogues, go to the pub, go down an internet rabbit hole. Walking is usually best for freeing up ideas for reviews and poems – perhaps the rhythm of movement is its own meter, you find that sentences begin to form out of nowhere.