We are big fans of the poems of RACHEL FOX here at The Passionate Transitory. At first glance they may seem lightly cast, with an almost throwaway, thistledown quality. But be careful. They are always likely to come up behind you and bite you on the leg. In a good way. In other words, we find a toughness there beneath the innocence. These poems may seem artless, but they're artfully constructed. You'll find more of Rachel's poems – and some videos of her poetry reading gigs – here.
Can you remember the first poem you ever wrote?
Vaguely. I was in primary school . . .
And how old you were when you wrote it?
Maybe eleven years old . . .
And what it was about?
I think it was about summer. I think it went on the wall . . . but not just mine . . . everybody's did.
Name a favourite poem or two . . .
I have a file full of favourite poems . . . I used to keep it quite religiously, but I haven't added anything for a while. In it you will find “Everybody's Mother” by Liz Lochhead, “Manifesto” by Wendy Cope and “Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou (much anthologised but still brilliant). Lots of others.
. . . and a few of your favourite poets.
Philip Larkin, Helena Nelson, Robert Frost . . . but really this changes all the time. Mainly I like individual poems (or even lines) rather than whole bodies of work as far as poetry is concerned. I also have quite a love/hate relationship with poetry (and poets) in general.
Do you talk about poetry with your friends or is it a secret part of your life?
Depends on the friend. Some yes, some no. It was secret for a few years, but not so much so now because I've done quite a lot of public readings and so on.
Do you write poetry for yourself, or for others, or for both?
Both. I probably started writing just for me, but my reasons for writing have changed over time (and are still changing, constantly). I've been commissioned to write poems quite a lot (for weddings, births, funerals . . .) so that is definitely writing for others. And then there are poems I just have to write to get something out of my system. I haven't written much in the past couple of years, but I know that is because I wrote a lot about my mum dying in 2010, and I'm kind of waiting for my next phase! Not sitting around waiting, you understand, just aware that something else will come.
Is it important to you if your poems get published or not?
Yes and no. It feels great when an editor (or someone in that role) says “yes, we like this”, but I am aware that lots of great writers/artists have not necessarily had success in their lifetimes – so I know publication/success isn't everything. Plus a lot of published poetry just sits on shelves or in unread magazines, and that's not such a great achievement, is it?
Do you think poetry is important in the global scale of things or just a pleasant, indulgent hobby like needlework or trainspotting?
It's both. I don't think it's as important as a lot of poets would have you believe . . . but then all of a sudden it can surprise you and be really, really important . . . even if only for a short period of time. I think kindness and generosity and understanding, for example, are far more important than poetry.
What does poetry really mean to you?
Words in lines.
Is poetry better than sex?
Depends on the sex.