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This interview is taken from PN Review 85, Volume 18 Number 5, May - June 1992.

Norman MacCaig in Conversation David S. Robb


David 5. Robb: Norman MacCaig, we look forward to many more poems from you, but the poems you have already written constitute a very considerable body of work indeed. What kind of change or development do you perceive in your work since, say, Riding Lights?

Norman MacCaig: I never think about myself in that sort of way. I just write the kind of poem that I feel like writing at the moment. I don't plot and plan and say 'Oh, I must try this, I must try that'. I don't do it that way at all. I just warble my native woodnotes wild.

But even when it's not part of the process of writing new poems, do you look back over what you have produced … ?

No, never, they bore me once I've written them.

The characteristic MacCaig poem is quite short, concentrated, often fairly convoluted in thought and imagery. You have only occasionally published longer poems but they have never become a prominent part of your output. Why do you think that is?

Well, I'm a merciful man and I don't enjoy reading long poems so why on earth should I write one? And anyway, the real fact is I can only write short poems.

You've found that this is the best and only way for you?

This is the only way that happens. You see, I ...

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