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This interview is taken from PN Review 132, Volume 26 Number 4, March - April 2000.

in conversation with Alison Brackenbury Vicki Bertram

VICKI BERTRAM: Could you start by saying a little about your childhood - location, atmosphere, family, influences - and the part (if any) poetry played in it?

ALISON BRACKENBURY: I am a great believer in choice, but I suspect that poets do not choose their subjects, and that childhood is vital in choosing at least some of their subjects for them. Childhood is a book in itself, so I will concentrate on place.

I grew up in Lincolnshire. My mother taught in the village school and my father was a farm lorry driver, so we lived in a series of 'tied' houses, all in one village, which was almost entirely owned by the farmer my father worked for.

Lincolnshire was a pretty devastated landscape. After the Second World War, the horse harnesses were tipped into quarries, the tractors came and the hedges went. But there were oases of trees, birds and flowers (we lived in a couple) and my grandfather, who was a shepherd, was still using a horse and cart until the mid 1960s. This, of course, is why my work is littered with heartsease, kestrels and horses, although since 1975 I have lived in towns. I go to a particular patch of countryside three days a week, so I still know about kestrels (and pesticides). On every footpath I meet dozens of the most varied people you can imagine, trudging through the mud and staring up at the larks. No ...

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