Thursday, December 25, 2008

Katy Evans-Bush and the dead: But no Baroquey horror show

London-based poet Katy Evans-Bush is better known in Blogworld as Ms Baroque, online chatelaine of the Baroque in Hackney site (click here), a learned lyrical New Yorker (by birth) who intrigues both literary big-hitters and writerly dabblers such as the escorts-friendly Madame Arcati.

Earlier this year, Katy's poetry collection Me And The Dead was published to much acclaim and she is now on an innovative virtual book tour she calls A Conversation About Dreams ... Katy has produced a body of work that marks a fresh voice in the discriminating, secular church of international poetry. She doesn't strike me as overly precious.

Katy agreed to a short interview with Madame Arcati - it may be a good idea to read her poem below first ...

If you were in heaven before a bureaucratic pen-pusher who demanded to know what your collection is about in 50 words (absolute max), how would you put it?

Dear Mme A, I'm delighted to be here. The situation you describe is very believable to me; it is the basis of many of my favourite jokes, which begin, "It's a slow day, and St Peter's sitting at the gates of Heaven..." I never know how to answer this question! If one were dead, and consequently all-seeing, it might be easier - but here's a stab at it:

Death. Love. The failure of love. A dialogue with other poets. And artists. Dinosaurs, geese, children playing music, silly situations, things that happened and things that didn't. The past. Dreams. Ghosts.

Would it be fair to say that you are a metropolitan lyrical sponge who when squeezed produces strangely distorted fragments of sights and sounds soaked up in cafes and parks?

Alas, this is true.

How many times do you revise a poem? Do lines come to you as you experience?

Some I revise never and others for months. Yes, I think the best lines come as a sort of flash; but then, a flash can come in revision too! You never know when something will suddenly get good.

Do you read your poems to your lover(s) in bed?

Can you imagine! Anyway, as I just said, the poems are about dinosaurs and children and geese, and bad previous relationships. I - [deleted on the grounds of taste]

Is there one review of the book that pleases you most. If so why?

Well, my fellow poet Rob Mackenzie wrote on his blog: "What the poem says is clear, but not simplistic; the words and syntax are ordinary but not prosaic. It's like an invitation to any casual reader, and says, 'Read this. Read it again.' That's what I'd recommend of the whole book." I was also happy when Ben Locker wrote that I "make him want to read poetry for fun."

As you are a synaesthesiac (I think) what do you see or taste with the following:

Well, my synaesthesia takes the form of letters having colours. Words also have colours, which can be a composite of the letters, or something else. B is blue or black - in this case black; l is clear, a and c are very red, and k is usually red but sort of yellow here. But the word black sort of is black. With a reddish tinge.

Z is black, not in a print way but in a sort of zero way, if that makes any sense...

PM is blue and goes all over the place. But that could be just Blair getting in the way.

Ogle: well. O is black, g is red, l is clear and e is yellow. Ogle is a great-looking word.

Madame Arcati is red red red, by the way! It's fabulous. You'd never know you had your moon in Pisces.

And finally, tell us about your virtual tour. Where have you been and where will you end up?

The tour's turning out to be tons of fun - everyone is treating it so differently! I had a laugh up in Norfolk in Jonny B's village, where you don't get many brownie points for being a poet. Then Dick Madeley asked me about a hundred questions, even quoting his own doggerel at length, until in the end I had to boot him on a bus back to the blogosphere, half covered with mocha and double flake. Norm asked probing questions about poetry, and you have merely probed! I mean, with your crystal ball of course.

After your illustrious boudoir I'll be at the Poetry Hut in the American South, and at E-Verse Radio - a boisterous multi-media blog in Philadelphia - and then on to Wales, where I'll be stretched out at the Rack Press; and I hope to finish up with Linda Grant at the Thoughtful Dresser. There may be a couple more stops, as two of my favourite bloggers had to pull out for family reasons. If they can think of a reason to have me after all that I'd love to drop in on them too.

As to where it will all turn out, there's something I'd like to ask you, Mme A: in your view, how do you think 2009's looking for me?

My dear. All I can say is that I see much more recognition for your poetry (you were always going to be a later developer according to your horoscope), a new significant job associated with writing or research; and in your personal affairs, a possible formal union. But who knows? Now, where's that Christmas poem?

I had hoped to write something fresh for this visit, but I'm going to give you something out of the book. I hope you don't mind. This is from last year's famous Fog, when the world suddenly disappeared into a mist for about three days. Was it last year? Maybe the year before. Anyway:

Abney Park Cemetery

Past, behind the fog,
aabeneath, beyond : an old world
aaaawaits, marked out for us.

Its dull heavy stones
aasit, as they have always sat.
aaaaThey're in no hurry:

the dead will always be
aadead. They hide their angel heads.
aaaaThis is their element.

They lift up to us
aatangles of living holly
aaaaon, between, despite

their stones. Does it drag
aaat them, or do they drag at it
aaaawith their hidden bones ?

The pavement's crowded
aawith shoppers' odd, livid notes —
aaaaa child's orange coat —

Each of us a ghost
aain the fog ; our hidden hands
aaaacarry deadweight bags.

Merry: to them all.
aaMerry Christmas, they mouth back
aaaain the still grey-black.

Katy, thank you so much for your time and I wish you and your family a fulfilling 2009.

More about Katy's collection Me And The Dead, click here.
To buy a copy, click here


The late Eartha Kitt said...

I love the poem

forgotten ones fund/stephmastini said...

now that was rude ...Eartha Kitt was a true diva talent, beautiful, outspoken and a very strong I take offense to that...
Ms. Baroque, I loved your esoteric and delightful interview...and I am not afraid to use my true rock dear..

Anonymous said...

When I think of Madame Arcati, I get palma violets - does that make me a synaesthesiac?

Madame Arcati said...

No, it makes u an unwashed fanny.

Elvira said...

MA, You just made me LMAO! I'm still wiping my tears and I think I need to go use palma violets and change my lavender knickers. What is it with short come backs that makes them so much funnier? BTW, palma violets is one of the ingredients in one of my favorite perfumes, “Flower by Kenzo”.

Katy, although I can't say the subject is too appealing to me, I must admit your lyrics evoke a Tsunami of sound and imagery as I read them.

Marianne said...

Dear Katy. the poem is very evocative to me and I be buying a copy of your anthology.

Anonymous said...

Good Lord, Madame Arcati has run a sensible interview for a change. It must be the economic downturn or soemthing.

Ms Baroque said...

Mme A, thanks - it's been an honour. Of course I'm indebted to your appreciative readers - especially Marianne for buying the book! It was a pleasure. Anonymous, can you imagine how it felt in the hotseat, not knowing what Madame was going to ask?

Anonymous said...

I object to the comment "Madame Arcati has run a sensible interview for a change" but then I would wouldn't I.
Love your work Ms Baroque.