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This interview is taken from PN Review 192, Volume 36 Number 4, March - April 2010.

In Conversation with Mark Ford Anthony Caleshu

ANTHONY CALESHU: You were born in Nairobi, Kenya and educated in England and America. I don’t particularly think of you as a poet of place, though your first collection, Landlocked, seems to be deliberately American, including the title poem which moves across the western states. How important is place to you as a poet?

MARK FORD: Well, I lived in a lot of different places when I was young; after Nairobi we moved to Lagos in Nigeria, then Chicago, then Colombo in Sri Lanka. In between there were spells in Surbiton and Maidenhead. My father worked for what was then called BOAC, the British Overseas Airways Corporation. It later became part of British Airways. I must have gone to about five different schools before I was eight; then the fatal shears suddenly closed and I was sent back to boarding school in England. I remember hearing John Bayley on the radio describe Eton, where he went, as ‘moderately brutal’, and that would also sum up what it was like being a boarder where I went, St Paul’s. Not seeing one’s parents for months at a time when you’re eight, is, well, very odd. Looked at from a wider historical perspective I can see that what I had was a late colonial upbringing. My father had grown up in austerity Britain in very modest circumstances - his father was a fairly humble clerk in a shipping firm. My father was the first one in his family to ...

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