The times I have seen Carrie Aaron read I have been more than impressed with the subject matter, the beauty of her words and the confident manner in which she delivers her work. She is an excellent poet. I have been meaning to interview her for some time but when we ran the poetry circle at this year’s Purbeck Festival I knew I could delay no longer.
Carrie writes a good if sporadic blog and you will find her poetry there. It is well worth a look. But enough preamble, let’s hear from Carrie herself.
The answer to that lies buried somewhere in my dim and distant past. I've been writing poetry since I was about five. Since I have also been reading A.A. Milne's poems since I was about five, Milne is probably to blame.
Who is influencing you at the moment?
I have (because of Breaking Bad's references to him) recently been reminded of the existence of Walt Whitman. And the all-encompassingness of him, and the way in which his lines (often quite a lot longer than lines generally are) seem to want to spill out and on forever. Which is something that could translate quite brilliantly into performance poetry, I think, if I could only translate it.
How do you get your poems out there to people?
The performance poetry circuit is the main conductor (excuse the pun) of my poetry at the moment. It's all a bit soapboxish, which means that all I have to do to speak and be listened to is to turn up, which is very freeing. I also post poems on my blog.
How important is poetic form to you?
I try not to let poetic form trammel me - it's a tool (and a very useful tool, and one with which I think more poets should acquaint themselves) but not a prison.
Do you keep a notebook with you at all times?
I ought to keep a notebook with me at all times - but I don't. I have, however, used the recording device on my mobile phone to record fleeting thoughts that might be useful later.
Any tips for beginners?
Read. Read very good poetry and very bad poetry. Learn to distinguish between the two, and analyse your responses. Use this same critical faculty on your own poems. Don't pull your punches. And learn to distinguish between helpful and unhelpful criticism - the person who cheers and yells and claps may be being nice but not know what they are talking about, the person who criticises your work may want to help you make it better (and vice versa).
If you were interviewing yourself, what question would you ask?
I would ask myself what I thought made my poetry distinct from other people's poetry. And I would answer that it is probably distinctive in terms of its combination of a (generally) fairly accessible form (usually iambic pentameter) paired with intentional marginalness of subject-matter and (to a book-geek like me, at least) thrillingly arcane references.
If you could do it all again what would you do?
I would enter more poetry competitions earlier on, and set less store on the whimsical reactions of audiences, who are shifting and mysterious things.
What’s in the pipeline?
About the time I finish my Masters in English (sometime next year) I intend to exorcise all my poems thus far by putting them out there in book form.
If you were a poem what poem would you be?
If I were a poem, I'd be Panthea by Oscar Wilde. (I won't tell you why so you're more likely to read it through intriguedness.)
I could not end this blog without showing you a sample of the quality poetry that Carrie is writing:
My webcam's watching me. Cyclopsian.
This is why I call it cyclopicam.
& "all the people" behind its screenglass
Are watching me. It is like 'Gogglebox'.
We are wired up, downloaded, if we are
Too ... interesting, for our own good, for our
Year of Our Lord Two Thousand & Thirteen
Is Nineteen Eighty Four plus Twenty Nine
& we've fallen into a paradigm
In which we are shrinkwrapped, zipfiled, if we
Cannot be headshrunk like our severed heads
Were taken in war, vetted, vatted, jars,
An underground like in The Time Machine
Harvested for The (God Save The Queen) Pound,
& ground into it, & for the pollen
That has & does & will clung cling & cling
To our inner legs. & Cyclopicam
(& the powers that be behind it's eye)
Stare out & stare me out & reel me in,
A gape with agape, disseminate-
-ing myself, my seed, my harvest, my wheat
Until I am a revenant made of chaff.
The Hills Have Eyes. My MacBook has an eye.
Beyond Good & Evil. (It's Nietzschean.)
(The people behind it aren't Nietzschean.
They're Ozymandias. They're kings of kings.
& what if they don't approve of the things
I say or do or think or dream or feel...)
My webcam's watching me. It's watching me
Like you watch football, a pot, or TV.
One day, when there's something interesting on,
Then Cyclopicam's eye will come to rest
On me. Be judge. Be jury. Execute.
I shall - we shall, be plucked out by the roots.