The Monthly talks to writer and poet David Braziel – Part 2

Part one of this interview is here

How did you develop your own skills?

When I was growing up I would have read Phillip Larkin and Wendy Cope. I would be drawn to slightly wry and humorous, perhaps even gentle, poetic writing. I never went through a standard journey writing poetry at school, going on to study English and I think not doing that has allowed me to experiment with my writing.

I use a lot of different forms and I work on different ways of using words. I used shorter forms when I’m writing for the page because that’s what I like to read. I also write poems specifically designed for slam which tend to be around three minutes long and more about rhythm and performance.

Phillip Larkin

I noticed on your website you have a lot of Shakespearean sonnets. Why that form?

I really like reading that type of poem. I like the form and the structure of it. I also think that in any creative endeavour you should try and set yourself some boundaries and I really like that the form has a rich history to it.

They are quite hard to work on and quite hard to get right. I contrast the sonnets with writing slam poetry which is much more free form. But I think slam poetry that doesn’t work very well is material that hasn’t been thought through, hasn’t been given any boundaries or structure.

I also don’t have much time, I have a family and a business, so I have to make the best use of my time and I find shorter forms and structure is very important.

It seems a little ironic if you don’t have a lot of time that you have picked the forms that don’t resolve easily?

That’s true, it certainly could seem like that but I work best setting some limits and boundaries and whatever time I do have I work using that method.

What about funding your work?

I do get funding from time to time. Ive had a grant from the Arts Council to develop a new show but it has been very difficult to develop work for public performance when there are no venues open! Nevertheless I work away at it assuming that at some point soon we will be able to do shows again. During lockdown I ran an online event which went very well showcasing local poets and was able to pay them all from ticket sales which is a great feeling.

What about responses from audiences?

I do often get people coming up to me after performances saying that they don’t like poetry but they find what I do very enjoyable. I do want to, or at least I aim to, connect with people who might not be a regular poetry audience. People who wouldn’t think of themselves as people who like poetry.

We really need to take the work that we create more seriously and look at making much wider connections beyond what is often a very small poetry or spoken word audience. That was part of the approach of Red Pill and it is the way I think about things now.

Where to now?

I did find it quite difficult to write much material through the Lockdown. I have been at home working or spending time with my family so the little time I used to have has been reduced partly by our business doing quite well and other things taking up my time.

I have signed up to a weekly Creative Writing Workshop with a poet, Chris Redmond, who runs Tongue Fu, that’s been a big help to boost creativity and work on performance. His approach is great and the Tongue Fu performances are really cool – poets are matched with musicians who improvise around the spoken word or poetry.

I am also just starting to write some new material so as things open up, I hope to be able to get back to offering my material to people who can attend events. I am very much looking forward to that.

See more of David Braziel’s work here:

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