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This interview is taken from PN Review 206, Volume 38 Number 6, July - August 2012.

In Conversation with Clive Wilmer Peter Carpenter

PETER CARPENTER: Clive, I'd hope and imagine that you're delighted with your New and Collected Poems. It weighs in at close on three hundred pages of poems plus notes, but I'm struck by an informing 'architecture' in the placing of the poems from that first collection onwards. You choose to end with a triumphant meditation on visionary building, your translation of Mandelstam's 'Hagia Sophia', which itself looks to 'out-gleam / Peoples and centuries'. Would you talk about the poem itself, the decision to place it at the end of the collection and the reasoning behind the ordering of the poems that lead up to it?

CLIVER WILMER: Yes, I am pleased with the book - to my great relief and rather to my surprise! As you write poems, most of the time, you have no idea of building a body of work. Or so I find it. It's like a complex of buildings adding up to a city - or a village at any rate. Architecture has always been the model - you are quite right about that - and in the early days it was usually medieval architecture. Long before I realised I was writing about building, I was conscious of having emotions about stone, particularly stone that has been rather roughly dressed, as it inevitably tended to be in medieval buildings. I can't explain this - and it comes up in my poem about psychotherapy, 'In Memoriam: Graham Davies'. I remember walking into ...


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