My Inspiration

At the risk of being pretentious (when has that ever stopped me in the past?) I ought to explain the inspiration for this site.

It goes back a long way. To November 1983 to be precise. I had just emerged from University (where I’d written a lot of drama) and was recovering in Calcutta (as it was then) from a serious debilitating bout of amoebic dysentery I’d caught in the Himalayas.

Sick as the proverbial parrot, I would stumble around the crowded, crazy Calcutta streets, simultaneously shocked by the poverty and desperation, but also inspired by the dynamism and intellectual life of the Bengali city. Yes, Calcutta is famed for being an intellectual centre in India, especially Bengal, and the streets were filled with hawkers, beggars and books. Even the most meagre stall would sell, along with bidis, cigarettes and sweets, some classic books. Many of them were cheap Russian exports of the Marxist classics, poorly translated into English, and badly printed. But at one bidi stall I saw both these books together, and bought them immediately.

Eisenstein's The Film Sense

Eisenstein

Lorca's Selected Poems

Lorca

Until that moment my biggest ambition had been to write poetic drama –  inspired by Eliot, Beckett and of course the ubiquitous Shakespeare. As a writer in English, these influences had been too powerful, crowding out the light of anything original. But when I found a Spanish poet who used images in a surreal novel way, and a Russian film maker who wrote brilliantly about the poetic power of montage, I knew I had a new route to follow, a new way of combining poetry and image which did not lead me into the sterile shadows of blank verse.

Having spent the last quarter century trying to combine the moving image (mainly TV) with the occasional evocative poetic moment, I have may have stumbled upon another way of doing this, through combining photos with my own poems and translations. Who knows? Who cares? I’m having fun doing it, and feel welcome to ignore these particular progenitors.



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