ROY BAYFIELD is without question one of The Passionate Transitory's most talented poets. We have a copy of his 2010 volume Bypass Pilgrim (about his heart bypass operation at the age of 48) here on the shelf above the chaotic PT editorial desk, and we refer to it often whenever we wish to be amused, moved or inspired. We first came across Roy through his blog Walking Home To 50 — an original, leftfield, sharply-written account of a personal walking pilgrimage Roy made from Southport Pier to Brighton Pier.
Can you remember the first poem you ever wrote?
There used to be a magazine called "Martlets" with poems by school pupils, published I think by East Sussex County Council. (The martlet is the official bird of Sussex.) I had one in an issue that came out in about 1970.
And how old you were when you wrote it?
Eight or nine.
And what it was about?
Ah, now you're asking. Next time I visit my parents I will delve into the "cupboard under the stairs", and try and find it. I can however remember a few words from someone else's poem about Vietnam: "chinook and bell", which (as explained in a footnote!) are the names of helicopters.
Name a favourite poem or two . . .
"Crucifix In A Deathhand", Charles Bukowski. That one that everyone likes about the grasshopper, by Mary Oliver. And some of her others.
. . . and a few of your favourite poets.
A few? How many are there? Erm . . . Marge Piercy. And new, to me at least, Marie Howe. Oh and Jean Sprackland. Of the Beats, Gary Snyder.
Do you talk about poetry to your friends or is it a secret part of your life?
I don't talk about it to the point of mania, but yes, sometimes.
Do you write poetry for yourself, or for others, or for both?
To reflect a bit of myself in others. That would be both then.
Is it important to you if your poems get published or not?
I would like them to be seen somewhere.
Do you think poetry is important in the global scale of things or just a pleasant, indulgent hobby like needlework or trainspotting?
In the global scale of things, there is so little separate individuals can do to make their corners of the world better, that if poetry or any art is possible it seems noble to do it.
What does poetry really mean to you?
Getting the right words out there so that they can talk back to me. A proper job.
Is poetry better than sex?
Way better than gender, indeed – good point. In future I will write "poetry" on any official form instead of male or female. As we are not fixed points but unique stitches in a swirling fabric.