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This interview is taken from PN Review 165, Volume 32 Number 1, September - October 2005.

An Interview with Robert Saxton Clare Sims

CS: There's a lot of landscape in Manganese, a strong sense of place. But it's kaleidoscopic, like a jumbled-up slide show. You have poems located in South America, Venice, Surrey, Los Angeles, Tokyo, China, Poole Harbour, Skibo Castle and other places besides, sometimes focusing on particular historical periods. I also detect a generalised feeling for pastoral. Can you talk a bit about your use of landscape?

RS: Well, I think part of the point of writing in the first place is to make experiences available, and of course one can choose to be where one wants to be. I often transpose real-life situations into different settings, quite randomly chosen - for example, there's a poem that starts in the Cuillin Hills on the Isle of Skye, about a climber who falls off a mountain, and this is really about the cycling accident I had on a hilly road in Highgate. You're right about the pastoral - I'm working on a new collection provisionally entitled Local Honey. But I don't think I'm inclined to idealise landscape. I can be tongue-in-cheek about it - for instance, in poems where I'm drawn to Gothic rustic, the landscape of movies, the Hammer horror with its ivy and mist. I like the associations with melodrama. Sometimes I see a setting as somehow both foreign and English simultaneously. 'The Dragon Gate', for example, although set in China 2,000 years ago, has something familiarly English about it. It ...


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