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This interview is taken from PN Review 93, Volume 20 Number 1, September - October 1993.

in Conversation with Richard Hoggart Nicolas Tredell


In the first volume of your Life and Times, A Local Habitation, published in 1988, you say, when describing your time at Leeds University in the late1930s that [m]y own emerging intellectual life had three main focuses: politics, documentary and poetry (p.194). I wondered if we could look at each of those interests as they've interwoven with your life and work - starting with poetry first of all, which has been a constant concern of yours, though in your multifarious activities it's not always been the concern that's been most noticed.

I have always thought that poetry is the queen of the literary arts. Indeed, I used to write poetry at the university and had some of it published in a student magazine. I had a friend -we wrote a joint poem which was banned by the professor on the committee of the university magazine - who threw everything up and went down to London to become a poet. He became one - a minor poet, but a poet he was devoted to being. I never had that strength of conviction or feeling, or that kind of courage perhaps, but I remain fascinated by poetry, thinking it the most important literary form, more so than fiction. It's the most taxing linguistically and also intellectually and imaginatively. For whatever reasons, I stopped writing or trying to write poetry - it was never more than trying to write. ...

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