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This interview is taken from PN Review 197, Volume 37 Number 3, January - February 2011.

An Interview with Fergus Allen
: A Peacock on the Bathroom Roof
Joanna Blachnio

A Peacock on the Bathroom Roof

In the hall of Fergus Allen’s home in Berkshire, not far from the River Thames, a bunch of peacock feathers is immediately conspicuous – no mere decorative element, but the sign of a live presence. ‘We have had peacocks for some years,’ Allen tells me. ‘The first one just strayed down our garden path one day. A neighbour thought it was sad he didn’t have a mate, got him a white pea-hen – and the pair soon began to hatch young ones all over the place. Now we have only one, simultaneously the son and grandson of the first peacock.’

In the opening poem of Allen’s first collection, The Brown Parrots of Providencia (1993), the peacock appears ‘on our bathroom roof / Screaming challenges from the time of dinosaurs’. Nature in the abundance of its forms, the deep perspectives of history and myth, and a straying into unlikely places are the substance of Allen’s poetry. He has published two further collections with Faber, Who Goes There? (1996) and Mrs Power Looks Over the Bay (1999), and another, Gas Light & Coke (2006), with the Dedalus Press in Dublin; his fifth book, Before Troy, is published in October 2010 by CB Editions. The following interview was conducted by email in May this year, after Fergus and his wife Joan had generously invited me to lunch at his home. Reclining in an armchair in his living room, scintillating with wit, dressed ...


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