PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
Most Read... Drew MilneTom Raworth’s Writing
‘present past improved’: Tom Raworth’s Writing

(PN Review 236)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Alejandro Fernandez-OsorioPomace (trans. James Womack)
(PN Review 236)
Kei MillerIn the Shadow of Derek Walcott

(PN Review 235)
Kate BinghamPuddle
(PN Review 236)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
Gratis Ad 1
Gratis Ad 2
Next Issue Michelle Holmes on ‘Whitman, Alabama’ Les Murray Eight Poems Gabriel Josipovici Who Dares Wins: Reflections on Translation Maureen N. McLane Four Poems James Womack Europe (after the German of Marie Luise Kaschnitz)

This interview is taken from PN Review 208, Volume 39 Number 2, November - December 2012.

in conversation with Robin Holloway Angela Leighton

ANGELA LEIGHTON: To start at the beginning, or perhaps to imagine a beginning, I want to ask you when you first started to compose? What was the first piece you remember writing down, and why? What drove you to write those notes? And then, at what point in your life did you decide that composing was what you wanted to do?

ROBIN HOLLOWAY: I always wanted to compose - can't recall a time when I didn't: my parents described the perpetual stream of monotone issuing from the pram in the streets of Leamington Spa, then Walsall, responding to ambient sounds in shops and parks; and I myself remember singing along to the wonky wind-up gramophone. There's an unceasing river of whistling or humming in my consciousness - from that infantine prattle and twitter to adult life, always some music 'on the brain', whereby I sing, silently in public, out loud when alone, and especially on walks and journeys, attempting to replicate whole stretches of beloved symphonies, operas, songs, etc. When I began to learn musical notation via early piano lessons, 'composition' began in accidentally or deliberately altering the little exercises or real pieces I had to practise. I can't recall when things began to be written down - probably as a chorister at St Paul's Cathedral, where the intensive daily intake upon the white pages of complete ignorance was overwhelming. Every new encounter was responded to instantly. All church music of course - Tudor, Restoration, Victorian ...

Searching, please wait... animated waiting image