Today I am delighted to present to you my interview/Q&A session with author of Imperfect Beginnings – Viv Fogel. First, many thanks to Viv for agreeing to the interview/Q&A session on my blog and to Fly on the Wall Press for inviting me onto the blog tour.
Viv’s poems are evocative showing war, peace, family and are set in present times and past times. In my blog post today, discover the blurb and then what she has to say as she talks fascinatingly of her inspiration, a particular photo of artwork that features within the book, the importance of poetry, it’s shape and more, as well as where you can purchase the book.
Without further ado, let’s welcome Viv Fogel…
Imperfect Beginnings lays its poems out to rest on uncertain terrain. Visa paperwork deadlines hang in the air. New-borns, torn too early from their mother’s breast, learn to adapt to harsh guardianship.
Belonging and exile are mirrored in the stories of having to leave one’s birthmother―or motherland.
From narrative poems such as ‘My Father Sold Cigarettes To The Nazis’, Fogel takes us on a journey throughout history, spanning ancestry, wartime, adoption and peacetime, as life settles. Family, work, love and the natural world provide purpose, meaning and a sense of coming ‘home’.
- What or who inspired you to be a poet and how did this influence your own poetic style?
I started off writing and illustrating short stories – to create worlds and characters I could escape into, but then a cousin, (an English student) gave me my first book of illustrated poetry when I was about 16. I didn’t understand them all – but the musicality of the words, the rhythm and the form of the poems, their vibrancy excited me. Here was another kind of language and sound to the rather dreary way we studied poetry at school. (Soon after, aged 16, my first poem was published in Peace News). A year or so later a conversation with a ‘bohemian’ stranger on a plane to Paris, got me interested in ‘kinetic’ poetry, Corso, Ginsberg and the Beat Poets. Aged 18 it was the Liverpool Poets and the lyrics of Leonard Cohen, Patti Smith, Joni Mitchell and later Ralph McTell. Music and poetry are inextricably linked for me.
2. The poems that seem to be set in modern times and then goes into the second world war, before returning to modern times, what inspired you to write it in this pattern for the arc of your storytelling, within your chosen themes?
An interesting question: themes are not linear or chronological – patterns reoccur and weave in and out, back and forth. And I did have another way of ordering the sequences and sections in the collection, but because of time constraints, this is how it shaped itself.
3. You have a photo of the Memorial installation ‘Shalekhet’ : fallen leaves at the Jewish Museum, Berlin and a poem beside it. How did you approach writing a poem that reflects the poignancy of the art installation?
It took me completely by surprise – that’s how powerful the installation was for me. People were encouraged to walk over the floor of metallic mask- like faces – the ‘fallen leaves’ , – and I just could not bring myself to do that. Instead I sat and listened to them clanking, and the clattering sounds and echoes evoked deeply embodied ‘memories’ and images …
4. You mention certain people under the titles of some of the poetry, such as Itzaak Weinreich, 1903-1988, Your birth mother – Jennie and also your mother – Henriette and relatives you never met, what emotions did this evoke in you and did it affect how you wrote and what you wrote in those particular poems?
Strangely no. Obviously there had been processed emotions long before I wrote the poems – but in order to write effectively I need to be able to dis-identify, and step back from those feelings in order to ‘see’ the bigger picture. Thomas Mann spoke about this in his novel Tonio Kröger – how if we are too emmeshed or lost in the emotions we cannot gain the perspective needed for the writing to be truly effective. But yes – there’s a history and a foundation of feeling-responses that inform these poems.
5. Your poems are sometimes a sombre silence and sometimes noise and movements, even within the placement of the sentences, not always being linear in every poem, was this a conscious decision?
Yes! The way a poem looks on the page, the spacing, lineation, even the punctuation is deliberate, which dictates the pace and tone of the reading, rather like musical notation. Obviously a poem written on A4 looks different when printed in a book-sized page.
6. How important and relevant is reading poetry in today’s society?
Very! Poetry says things that cannot be said in any other way. It’s immediate and names what cannot always be named with prose or in journalism. The term ‘poetic licence’ exists for a reason. Poetry may not change the world, its politics or politicians – but it can sustain and give hope. Try reading at least one poem a day – to find that space and nourishment!
7. What do you hope readers will gain from your poetry and where can people purchase your book?
I hope readers will be moved in some way by the poetry … if one poem touches one person or resonates – with empathy, or joy, or inspires them to write themselves, or to find their voice, that’s a wonderful benefit. And I really would like my poetry to be accessible to those who are not just poets and would not normally choose to read poetry.
You can purchase the book directly from Fly on the Wall Press online – or better still- order from your local book store, or even your library. And I would welcome any reviews on Goodreads, Waterstones or Amazon.
Many thanks Lou for asking me onto your blog.
To pre-order please go to: https://www.flyonthewallpress.co.uk/product-page/imperfect-beginnings-by-viv-fogel