Poetry & Religion, part 2

Mark Statman reads at the Latter Library, New Orleans, April 2014.

In part two of Mark Statman’s interview about Religion and Poetry he goes deeper into his own practices and beliefs as a poet. 

Leslie:Joseph Brodsky said: ‘Poetry amounts to the arranging of words with the greatest specific gravity in the most effective and externally inevitable sequence’. How do you, as a writer, aim to achieve additional, symbolic or multi-layered meaning when writing? Is there a kind of deliberate ‘transcendentalism’ or artifice involved in selecting significant detail when you write? Or is the random/chaotic or the post-modern manipulation of sign/symbol a more accurate reflection of life?

Mark: As a poet, I’m not sure, at the moment of first writing, what I’m aiming for in any given poem. While I’m writing, at least in the first or second draft of any poem, I don’t think, oh this will be a good place for an image or this will be a good place for a metaphor, or here it would be interesting to bring in the universe. So, no, I don’t think there is anything deliberate. Continue reading Poetry & Religion, part 2

Ch 3 in Matthew’s coming-of-age tale ‘Purple’ – his gran Mary’s story begins.

Excerpt from ‘Purple’, Matthew Lavender’s coming-of-age tale about courtship, free love and the generation gap. In this reading from chapter three Matthew’s gran, Mary, begins her story.  Filmed/edited by Cynthia Nolan and Rory Gardner. You can read more about/buy Purple here.


Mark Statman reads at Changing Hands Books, Phoenix, Arizona 2013

I asked Mark Statman, associate professor of Literary Studies at Eugene Lang College, about Religion and Poetry. His deeply cultured answers reflect the seminal nature of his translations, which include Federico García Lorca‘s Poet in New York and José María Hinojosa’s poetry, plus his latest work-in-progress, a book-length version of Uruguayan poet Martín Barea Mattos. Mark’s own original poetry collections include A Map of the Winds and That Train Again. In thinking about poetry and religion Mark draws on his international experience as both poet and translator. Continue reading POETRY & RELIGION, part 1


Paula Watkins

I interviewed artist Paula Watkins, author of Cut, Shape, Stitch, who creates her own life-enhancing artworks in a range of materials. Paula is a community artist and teacher, passing on her gift by showing adults and children how to express themselves through textiles, stitch and mixed-media.

Leslie: How have your background and key formative experiences contributed to your development as an artist?

Paula: As a young girl I enjoyed art so much that I had presumed that it would be my career with teaching as an additional choice. Yet when it came to careers advice at school I was told to look into something more academic and discouraged from following my heart. Continue reading PAULA’S WORLD OF TEXTILES, STITCH AND MIXED-MEDIA


IMG_1391I was introduced to Deaf writer and artist Melissa Mostyn by my friend Jill Hipson – who I’d already interviewed about The Rich Culture of Deaf People. Meeting Melissa, I could see straightaway that she was another amazingly active, resilient individual living in two worlds, understanding both the deaf and hearing communities. I asked Melissa to answer a few questions and she came up with a guest blog describing her upbringing and her personal struggle to recover her identity as a Deaf person. What follows builds on an extract from her e-book, My Daughter and I

‘For much of my life, I have been a Deaf writer and artist in some shape or form. Continue reading MELISSA’S STORY – A DEAF IDENTITY RECLAIMED


3478127_orig[1]I interviewed John Yamrus. His published works include 24 volumes of poetry (with three more due out this year) as well as two novels. John has had nearly 1,800 poems published in magazines around the world and has played an important role in promoting modern poetry through appearances on TV. His poems have been taught at both high school and college level in the USA

In answering my questions John, who is a free spirit, wrote: ‘I’m approaching it like I’m doing it live. In trying to keep myself open to the questions, I’m not reading ahead… trying to keep myself surprised. Except for spelling and things like that, I’m not going back and making corrections. I’m trying my best to keep it fresh for you’.342740_orig[1] Continue reading THE READER AS MUSE.


cnw[1]I asked Chris Norton-Walker about what drives him creatively as a stand-up comedian. Chris is an actor from the Central School of Speech and Drama with an MA and several stage, film and TV appearances, whose first love is performing on the national comedy circuit. He has reached the final rounds of several major stand-up competitions.

Leslie: What do you enjoy most about stand up and why?

Chris: The lifestyle’s good. I don’t mean the ‘showbiz lifestyle’ of parties, women and money because, I can assure you, there is none of that. I’m talking more about being your own boss, making people laugh and a lack of dreary Monday morning commutes. And I’ve done those, they are not fun. What is great about stand up is Continue reading THE PLAYFUL ART OF STAND UP


Sherief Hassan

Sherief Hassan is a multi-talented actor, scriptwriter and consultant who has co-ordinated film-based events for Channel 4, Sadlers Wells and the Royal Festival Hall. He is the inventor of the Sine Player ‘edutainment’ app which links film studios, producers and creative researchers in the digital field. He is also a committed environmentalist and chair of Dacorum Green Party. I asked Sherief to talk about what inspires him to be green both in his personal life and in the arts, media and politics.

Leslie: Who are your green heroes and why? Continue reading THE ART OF BEING GREEN

Author and Poet