Over the next few weeks I’ll be posting interviews with the authors and poets who will be taking part in our Book Fair: http://www.narberthbookfair.co.uk/.
There are forty of us so, obviously, there are many genres for both adults and children. There will be talks an writing and books, creative writing workshops for adults and fun workshops for children, activities for the children and a fun book trail through Narberth, the gorgeous little market town in Pembrokeshire.
And, of course, there will be the chance to chat with all the authors and to pick their brains on all aspects of writing. Even to buy their books and have them personally signed.
And, as usual, there will also be the writing competition: this year is a poetry competition: Submit a poem, in any form, of 20 lines or less, on the subject of : –
BOOKS AND READING.
Having outgrown our previous venue we have been lucky to hire the Queens Hall: https://www.thequeenshall.org.uk/ who have been very generous in their support of the event.
Although, five years ago, I started organising the book fairs on my own I was soon joined by Alex Martin: http://amzn.to/2hZCgt2 and Thorne Moore: http://bit.ly/2rc5qyA. Unfortunately Alex has moved on to pastures new (although is still a great supporter), so Thorne and I have been joined by Elizabeth Sleight. Elizabeth is involved in the charity we are supporting through our raffle; The Harriet Davis Seaside Holiday Trust For Disabled Children: http://bit.ly/2sNyeKQ .
Today I’m really pleased to be with poet Steve Thorpe
What is the ultimate goal you hope to achieve with your writing?
To express something important in a new way – or at least to be able to speak to someone with a line or an idea. I love exploring ideas and words and paring them back – and when that happens I have a real sense of satisfaction! Another goal, I think is knowing my limits!
What book that you have read has most influenced your life?
Definitely ‘Always Coming Home’ by Ursula LeGuin. It’s the most magical and imaginative book I’ve ever read. It’s the one book I come back to and read every few years, and it says something new to me each time. It can be read as science fiction, poetry, fictional anthropology, ecological prophecy or folk tale. It’s quite indescribable in some ways, so just has to be read!
Who is your favourite author?
That changes. Ursula LeGuin and James Hillman are always there or thereabouts – and I love Alice Walker, Jeff Vandermeer, Neil Gaiman and poets like Mary Oliver and David Whyte. However, for sheer imaginative scope and craft it has to be Margaret Atwood. Everything she’s written could be a favourite book for me. Which says it all.
If you could have been the author of any book ever written, which book would you choose?
‘The Soul’s Code’ by James Hillman. As a therapist and writer, I work with themes of psychology and imagination and I only wish I did it as brilliantly as he did. All his books are great, but the Soul’s Code is definitely the book that pulls together ideas and stories in a way I’d like to have done it!
What genre do you consider your books? Have you considered writing in another genre?
I write poetry and poetic non-fiction – as well as some essays on psychology, ecology and culture. That might sound a bit out there, but I’d like to think my work is pretty accessible. It’s not page-turning fiction, but I think it’s got something to say! I would love to write a really good speculative fiction book – or even a good short story or novella in the genre. Maybe next year!
Could you tell us a bit about your most recent book and why it is a must-read?
‘Soul Meditations’ is ‘a little book of poetic meditations’ (it says on the blurb). I wrote it as a way of providing people with mindful ways of connecting with the different elements of well-being and ecology – with the earth, spirit, and with deeper ourselves.
Why read it? Well I think it’s pretty unique in its style and genre. It’s not really poetry – but it is poetic, and it’s not standard non-fiction prose either. People tell me they love just picking it up and dipping in. It’s also a lovely object, I think, beautifully illustrated and designed by my daughter Ruth Thorp, with whom I have done a n umber of collaborations.
People tell me they love just picking it up and dipping in.
Does your book have a lesson? Moral?
I guess all my books have some sort of moral or lesson – that we have to connect more fully with the Earth and with each other and to live more simply, consciously and imaginatively. The climate change crisis is the backdrop to much of my work these days – I think it’s a major emergency, and we have to respond to it. I don’t want to come across as preachy – but if I can raise a question in someone’s mind, then that’s a positive.
What was the inspiration behind your previous book, ‘Soul Manifestos and Pieces of Joy’?
This was first published in 2014, and has just been reprinted! Soul Manifestos was a book of short poetic essays addressing issues of psychology and ecology. I guess my inspiration was, on the one hand, the work of psychologists and writers like James Hillman, Joanna Macy and David Abram who are trying to say something about how we are connected to the earth, and how our creativity and imagination can help us experience soul and joy – hence the title! The other inspiration was the many, many people I’ve worked with as a therapist and coach over the years – the courage they have shown and the insight they have given me.
How long did it take you to write?
Longer than I thought it should! Putting together a compilation of small writings is more difficult than it seems. Although I’m not constructing a narrative like a fiction author, there has to be a flow through the book, and finding it took longer than I expected. I started by drawing on some pieces from an old blog, and then proceeded to put the book together over around 3 years. I first put out a digital version online, and thought that that would be that, but it nagged away at me until the print version emerged!
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
We sell my books a lot on market stalls around the area and so there’s often feedback from people who have bought a previous book, or are just browsing. People will sometimes say the work is beautiful, inspiring and reflective. Sometimes they have even been moved to tears! People have also said they keep the books beside their bed to look back at – which is a lovely thing.
Do you have any hidden or uncommon talents?
I’m a reasonably decent bodyboarder and trying to be a decent pianist, having started playing again after many decades! I guess my hidden talent would be step aerobics – there’s even a couple videos of me strutting my stuff on YouTube somewhere…
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Not sure how interesting it is, but I do a lot of my writing sitting on the sofa…
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Work as a counsellor, coach and activist. Exercise. Listen to music. Walk or run on the beach (Newgale mainly). Spend time with my two wonderful granddaughters. Play the piano. Do yoga. Drive more than I’d like to…(for family and work).
What is the most amusing thing that has ever happened to you? Not particularly to do with your writing
Nothing particular springs to mind but if you saw the video of me doing step aerobics it might give you a good laugh!
Give us a random fact about yourself.
I was one vote away from being the Labour Parliamentary Candidate in Banbury at the 1987 General Election.
Read more about Steve here: http://www.narberthbookfair.co.uk/autthorp.html