PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
Mark FordLetters And So It Goes
Letters from Young Mr Grace
(aka John Ashbery)

(PN Review 239)
Kei Millerthe Fat Black Woman
In Praise of the Fat Black Woman & Volume

(PN Review 241)
Henry Kingon Toby Martinez de las Rivas
(PN Review 244)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Next Issue John McAuliffe poems and conversation Charles Dobzynski translated by Marilyn Hacker Maya C. Popa in conversation with Caroline Bird Richard Gwyn With Lowry in Cuernavaca Jane Draycott Four Poems
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
PNR 250 Poetry Archive Banner
Monthly Carcanet Books
PN Review Blog

This interview is taken from PN Review 199, Volume 37 Number 5, May - June 2011.

in conversation with Michael Symmons Roberts Thomas Day
Michael Symmons Roberts was born in Preston, Lancashire, in 1963. He has published five collectionsof poetry: Soft Keys (1993), Raising Sparks (1999), Burning Babylon (2001), Corpus (2004), which won the Whitbread Award, and The Half-Healed (2008). He is also a novelist (Patrick's Alphabet (2006), Breath (2008)), a librettist, a maker of many film and radio documentaries, and a teacher of Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University. The interview took place in Buxton on 20 July 2010; that evening Mozart's Zaide, the libretto adapted by Michael, was performed at the Buxton Opera House.

THOMAS DAY: During your childhood your family moved from the north to Berkshire, to within a mile of the Greenham Common airbase.

MICHAEL SYMMONS ROBERTS: Yes. At the time it was just a dormant airfield that hadn't been used since the Second World War. It was taken up by the US Air Force and within a couple of years of that became Britain's number one nuclear target, a much disputed site of peace protests, and so on. It became a very complicated, rather terrifying place to be, though it wasn't like that when we moved there.

Your experiences of growing up there are remembered in your third collection, Burning Babylon, though also, as you've said, perhaps only half-remembered or partly fantasised. That seems important to the way the book is written.

I wanted to be true to the experience of being an adolescent there, rather than true ...

Searching, please wait... animated waiting image