Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
John McAuliffeBill Manhire in Conversation with John McAuliffe
(PN Review 259)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Patricia CraigVal Warner: A Reminiscence
(PN Review 259)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Tim Parksin conversation with Natalia Ginzburg
(PN Review 49)
Next Issue Gwyneth Lewis ‘Spiderings’ Ian Thomson ‘Fires were started: Tallinn, 1944’ Adrian May ‘Traditionalism and Tradition’ Judith Herzberg ‘Poems’ translated by Margitt Helbert Horatio Morpurgo ‘What is a Book?’
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
PN Review 276
PN Review Substack

This interview is taken from PN Review 264, Volume 48 Number 4, March - April 2022.

Carl Phillips in conversation Ian Pople

IP: Why and how did you start writing? And how long did it take you to trust both your imagination and your own voice? Also, a supplemental question: I know your mother was English; did she retain her accent, and if so, might those cadences have affected your voice, spoken or written?

CP: I always wrote, as a child growing up, for pleasure. I kept diaries, I created a family newspaper where I wrote all the articles and did the cartoons, and then distributed copies to my parents and sisters; and I wrote poetry throughout high school and college. I should mention that my mother wrote poems, usually occasional poems – she’d write a poem for my birthday, or a Christmas poem, that sort of thing. So I grew up with poetry seeming a perfectly normal thing to be interested in… After college, I didn’t write for maybe seven years, had no desire to do so. I had also gotten married to a woman, and had no clear idea that I was in fact a gay man – I wouldn’t have married, had I known that. But at some point in the marriage I began to understand the reality, and it was a point of crisis – I didn’t want to hurt my wife, I couldn’t make sense of my feelings, I didn’t want to be unfaithful. I suddenly began writing again. I believe now that the poetry saved me, maybe literally.

As for trusting imagination and my own voice… I guess it hasn’t ever occurred to me not to trust my imagination. And I don’t know, to this day, if I really know what is ...


Searching, please wait... animated waiting image