Becca Binks and Alice Buckley interview Sir Andrew Motion about ‘Silver’ and other writing matters

27 Apr

Q. You have many awards, do you think this has made you change your poems to please people rather than for yourself?

A. I’ve done as much as I can to make sure that I change nothing about any part of my writing to suit what I think might be the tastes of awards-givers and prize-judges. Of course it’s nice to win things, but it would be ludicrous to produce something with the express intention of doing so.

Q. In an interview in 2010, you said that teachers made poetry a bore for children.  Do you still think this is the case and if so what could be done to make it fun?

A. I don’t think I ever said teachers made poetry a bore. I think I said (but may have been misquoted: it happens all the time) that the curriculum often made poetry boring. What to do about it? Study poetry for poetry’s own sake; put creative writing alongside creative reading; encourage students to learn poems by heart.

Q. If you could bring one of your characters from a book or poem to life, who would you choose?

A. Natty, in ‘Silver’. Because she’s appealing, even though (or because) she’s a bit of a minx.

Q. Has anyone ever inspired you to write (ie your friends or anyone in your family)?

A. I was originally inspired to write by my 6th form English teacher, Peter Way. Since then it’s been other writers I like (alive as well as dead): Wordsworth, Keats, Hardy, Edward Thomas, Auden, Larkin… .

Q. Was it strange writing a sequel to someone else’s book?  Was there anything you wished you could change?

A. I don’t think of ‘Silver’ as a sequel (though it is one), but as a sort of living homage – an extrapolation. And would I change anything about the original? I think the temperature drops when Robert Louis Stevenson gives the narration to the Doctor – so maybe I’d change that. But in all other respects it’s a book that gets everything dead right.

Andrew Motion is appearing at the Queen’s Hall, Hexham at 7.30pm, Thursday 3rd May as part of the 2012 Hexham Book Festival. Tickets are available from the Hexham Book Festival website.

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