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This interview is taken from PN Review 37, Volume 10 Number 5, March - April 1984.

Lessons in Survival (Neil Powell interviews the poet) Neil Powell

Peter Scupham recently celebrated his fiftieth birthday and the publication of his fifth collection of poems, Winter Quarters (OUP, £4.50). In this conversation, recorded in his Hertfordshire home, he talked to Neil Powell.

Neil Powell - If your five books so far have a pattern, it seems to be a pattern which begins with domestic themes and nature, deepens into the historical and geological, and then gradually works forward to your most recent book. How far is this a conscious pattern?

Peter Scupham - Yes, it is conscious after The Snowing Globe, which is an odd book and rather a mish-mash, a trial of different styles; I think bits of The Snowing Globe are in all the other books. The first OUP book, Prehistories, was a conscious attempt to go back to origins: I've always been a person who's felt only marginally at home in the twentieth century and who's had to reach the twentieth century by a long and in some ways rather cumbersome process. And so, since geological and prehistoric time are things which had always fascinated me (originally I was going to be a historian rather than read English at a university), Prehistories did home in on sign-languages from the world of pre-written record. Then The Hinterland, which came after it, did attempt to move in some sense through recorded history - not a very twentieth-century set of themes in either of the two books. Then, because I ...

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