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Wake Forest
University Press

Wake Forest University Press

Dedicated to Irish Poetry

An Interview with Vona Groarke


A Brief Interview with Vona Groarke
by Jillian King, Wake Forest University graduate student in English
September, 2008

Q. How has your transatlantic life influenced your recent poetry?

A. My next book, Spindrift, will have an introductory section of poems that I wrote in Winston-Salem, mostly about the idea of being at home. [Groarke is the poet-in-residence at Wake Forest University every other spring.] Being in Manchester [England, where she teaches at University of Manchester] is strange that way–it doesn’t really feel like being definniteively away at all…. I’m a 50-minute plane ride from the West of Ireland, which is, I suppose, the place I think of as home.

Q.What keeps you up at night ?

A. I suspect the answer should be “‘writing poems,” but in truth it’s more likely to be YouTube, caffeine, the Godfather movies, what i should have said in conversations years ago and didn’t, a sore left foot, or knowledge of the bundle of essays still to be marked on my study desk.

Q. You’re a professor of poetry… Is writing poetry something that can be taught?

A. No one ever asks “Can you teach sculpture?” Or music. Or acting. It’s recognized that there’s an element of craft involved in the other branches of the creative arts, but for some reason, people seem to question that when it comes to literature. Of course, there is a degree of craft involved and, of course, a good teacher can help students acquire this.

Q. How do you think your poetry has changed since you first published Shale in 1994?

A. My next book will be my fifth: if it isn’t completely different to my fourth, I won’t see the point of publishing it. … Spindrift will have more clarity to it, I hope, than the other books. I’m attracted to the idea of honesty–not confessionalism, mind you, but linguistic honesty.

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