My poet today is FH Denny. For the month of April, I have found a diverse group of poets willing to bare their souls to me and share both their poetry and answer my questions. Global Poetry Month is a great time to learn about poets across the world, and the people I have chosen to interview are a diverse group with a wide variety of identities, ages, and cultural backgrounds.
Poet and fiction author FH Denny was born in the U.K. but now lives in New Zealand. He/they write fantasy novels as well as poetry and are a passionate reader, stating his/their favorite book as the novel Watership Down.
In my poetry, I often find a common theme, but your poems seem to run the gamut of different themes. What inspires your writing?
If I were writing a book of poetry, I would try to stick to a theme, but the poems I share on my website are inspired by how I feel at the time. I’m using that space to experiment with different topics and finding new ways to express myself.
What kind of rituals do you have when writing poetry?
I’m not sure I have rituals. I am fairly spontaneous when it comes to poetry. I go through short periods of poetry-inspo where I write whatever comes into my head. Then I go for months without writing a single poem, not even a haiku.
Is there a particular time of day or place you like to write?
I write most of my poetry in my room on my computer. My desk is placed in front of a large window that overlooks the garden and fields that slope down to a small brook fringed with willows and lilies. We rent the fields to a neighbour who keeps the cutest miniature horses. Sometimes you can see the black rabbits that have made a home here and families of pukeko, New Zealand’s raptor-like swamphen. I write best in the mornings. My brain is sharpest then.
When did you first begin writing poetry?
I’ve been writing poetry since I was little. However, those poems consisted of made-up words, a shortcut to ensuring my sentences rhymed. Think of it as a poorly crafted Lewis Caroll attempt.
What transforms a poem from “good” to “spectacular” in your eyes?
The best poems are noticeably authentic. They’re not pretentious, nor do they try too hard with their structure. Even where craft is lacking, true emotion and honest sentiment ensure a profound connection with the reader.
Who are some of your favorite poets?
Emily Dickinson, W.H Auden, Sylvia Plath.
Do you find yourself emulating them when you work on your own poetry?
It’s more succinct and I’m learning how to put complex ideas into simple prose.
Which areas do you think you excel in? Which areas do you think you need improvement in?
I do not think I excel at all when it comes to poetry. I am definitely still a rookie. Therefore, I feel I could improve in every area. If I had to pick a specific weakness it would be a tendency to repeat myself. I like to say things more than once. Even in everyday speech, I have form for echoing what I’ve just said.
What is your favorite part about writing poetry?
It’s a way to put into words your inner fears, desires and hurts. As opposed to prose, you don’t have to worry about context, you can get straight to the heart of the matter. It’s probably one of the most therapeutic forms of writing.
Do you have a favorite word? If so, what is it?
Equivocal. One of my editors uses it a lot. I find the sound rather humorous. It’s such a pompous sounding word, yet it has a pixie-like ring to it.
I don’t think you are in – Heaven – you are much too earthy for – Heaven. I don’t think you are in – Hell – you are much too good for – Hell. I don’t think you are a – spirit – you were not the spiritual type. Although mum told me of fairy blood in you – as runs through the veins of the Manx. Then you must be in your grave, but I don’t know where that is – we could not visit your funeral- See – but you can’t see for your eyes are closed, as is the custom of the dead.
Then you must be sleeping – somewhere where it’s green – or in a chocolate shop – maybe? Where would you have liked to lie – if lying you have been? Pity – I wouldn’t know; I didn’t know you well.
Had I been far, far, away over the seven seas – maybe – but I fear you’d have more to lose. I asked mum one day what you feared the most – she told me losing your mind. I’ll tell you one thing, Grandma, God did not create this world, but perhaps it was Murphy’s law – I may have known you better, but you may have known me worse. The more marbles you have cluttering your mind, the more marbles you’d likely lose. A pity how the mind contradicts the heart – as your heart gets bigger, your mind gets smaller. You had friends in many places, from Nigeria to the Isle of Man and from New Zealand to the Isle of Crete. Grandma, the world is unkind when it steals a nurse’s mind.
It is why you’re not Murphy’s nature – spirit, or a Heavenly – creature
But instead a valued memory – that touched those who mattered.
Grandma, those memories you lost weren’t really lost. They were just passing through – from your mind to your friend’s minds – to your family and kin.
I may not have known you that much then but I can picture you now.
Grandma – I know where you are now – you must be in our minds.- FH Denny