I decided to take the opportunity to interview Floots, who I know through his blog , i-land-i-site ( http://i-land-i-site.blogspot.com/ ). Though I'm his regular visitor and fan, I had it in mind that it would be an easy to go through his poetry and photos and guide my journey through the interview and, therefore, I was surprised when I found there was no archive on his blogspot. However, that challenge did not stop me going forward with the interview for LIP.
Floots is based in United Kingdom, the land where you feel the country side flavor. No wonder his poetic inspiration does not only tie us on poetic words, our eyes also are fulfilled not only with poetic imagery where words paint explicit images in our mind; with Floots there is an added treat to words: photographs, a treat for our eyes and soul. Each poem of his connects words and image, the two arts woven together in an inseparable union.
Let us start our interview, just getting a bit far from image and poetry?
"Floots?" We know you under this pen name. What is the meaning behind it?
Who is Floots without poetry and photography?
I was a secondary school English Language and Literature teacher (pupils aged 11 – 18) for over twenty years but had to retire early when I developed a problem with my vocal chords. Though this was obviously bad news in many ways, it has meant that I can now lead a simple life in beautiful rural surroundings. I very occasionally do a little part-time work but generally I spend my time reading, playing music, writing, sawing firewood and, of course exploring.
Your inspiration seems to be intertwined with nature. Is this a reflection of where you live? Do you believe an artist is a reflection of his environment and surrounding?
Certainly landscape and wildlife play an important role in my life and my writing. I love them for themselves and so some of my writing is simply a matter of observation but, of course, the Natural world is also a rich source of inspiration and metaphor. I think that we all draw on our surroundings and, as I grow older, the cartography of my past seems increasingly rich in ideas. I think that retrospection is unavoidable on a personal level but, it is also a universal phenomenon, and I would hope that it engenders empathy rather than seeming self-centred.
Tell us more about your land (Isle of Skye)? DO you still live there?
Skye is a large island off the northwest coast of Scotland. It is approximately fifty miles long but has a total population of only ten to twelve thousand and almost a quarter of the people live in the one main town. Until 1995 the island could only be reached by ferry but then a bridge was built, enabling much easier access. There was a great deal of ill-feeling over the high toll charge but this has now been scrapped and free travel between the island and mainland Scotland is simple. It is a beautiful place with its mix of mountains, glens and lochs and a variety of wildlife.
not so much a poem
a walker’s guide to absent friends
settled back in the car
all i could hear was the silence
i’d not done it before
down across the open glen
up into the lower slopes of the mountains
all the while hugging the banks of the stream
to gaze at waterfalls
(alas no naked nymphs)
at one point i had to cross a mini-torrent
semi-submerged stepping stones
it was like playing leapfrog with analogies
then up the slope
loose stones and sheep shit
(damn - musta got one of those analogies stuck to my boot)
i reached the point where my map said the return path cut left
too bad the landslide hadn’t read the pamphlet
when there’s nowhere to go
so I did
into a vast gulch between the mountains
water glistening on the wrinkled rock-faces
courtesy of october sun
i sat awhile
became a part of it
turned for home
skipstumbling back down the slope
a distant peanut butter sandwich
settled back in the car
all i could hear was the silence
for two hours
that stream had talked to me
made music from rocks and air
given itself to the day
had i stopped listening
taken it into my heart
that mountain stream flows on
the whisper of a lover
when it’s gone
The word affair, it is often not linked with poetry. However, poetry is a passion that takes a large part of ones emotion? Would you agree with the term The Poetry Affair ?
Certainly I have had a long love affair with poetry. My mother read poetry to me from a very early age and I am sure that her love of metre, rhyme and narrative has stayed with me. Even as a very old lady, the slightest “cue” in a conversation would set her off, reciting some snippet from a favourite poem. I am eternally in her debt for this (and so much more) and sense that poetry will remain my constant lover and confidante.
When did you realize your passion for poetry? Did you nurture this passion within you?
As I said above, I have loved poetry since childhood. I began with the simple rhythms of nursery rhymes and moved on though the variety of poetry enjoyed by children. Nonsense verse and narrative verse were always particular favourites. I think that writing poetry followed naturally and, as my father used to write poems and illustrate them with sketches, albeit his style was different to that of my own adult writings, he was undoubtedly a valuable early example.
What does the word Poet means to you?
To me a poet is anyone who looks inside themselves, and at the world around them, and tries to share their discoveries through the medium of words. Words such as “style” and “quality” are largely subjective when dealing with the written word and should never be allowed to detract from a poet’s self-image. In John Barth’s novel The Sot Weed Factor, the hero describes himself as “poet and gentleman” and I would be happy to work towards that for myself.
Many of us enjoy poetry but have never had the courage to explore it. Can poetry be taught in ways which help the person to become a poet at some stage of his or her life?
Simply sharing words with others will always be the mainstay of poetic communication but I do believe that some of the basic “joy” of poetry can be taught. Certainly, as a teacher, I was always attempting to do this. Links between poetry and song are a great help and there is no question in my mind that the memorability of poems can be a great help for younger readers/writers. I think that a knowledge of the terminology of poetry can prove useful but, as in many artistic fields, I think that it is a case of learning the rules before breaking them. Writing-by-numbers - simply adding adjectives, figures of speech etc will never be a substitute for a writer’s real emotions.
Do you have favorite place which inspires you and helps you to write?
I have too many to count. The Isle of Skye provides enormous inspiration but I also have so many memories of particular beaches and stretches of moorland which have special meaning for me. I can remember one place in England which I could never drive past without thinking of an old friend. She had never been there but this place, the run-off from an old mill, a haven of shadows, willow and still water, always brought her to mind. Where I live now, the jagged silhouette of The Cuillin Hills (Skye’s mountain range) never fails to thrill me and set me thinking.
Which is your priority: photography or poetry? Or are they equally important?
Words are my first love. Their meaning, sound, variety and rhythm are at the heart of what I do, but I enjoy photography and it will often provide the starting point for a poem though, if we are being wholly accurate, I suppose that this could often be seen as an extension of my love of the Natural world which we have already discussed. I enjoy experimenting with forms such as haiga and taiga where the text is incorporated in the image but I also like to think that with much of my work the words could stand alone. Having said that, I think that when words and picture work well together that is a bonus.
Does a photograph always prove to be the starting point for a poem or is the pattern sometimes reversed?
There is no hard and fast rule. Sometimes a long walk will provide me with a series of photographs, some of which will be crying out for words. On other occasions I will write a poem and only later start to think of possible illustrations.
Where do you want to head with your talent? Do you believe every talent, whether photography or poetry, has a peak or is it limitless?
Really all I wish to do is continue writing. My publishing successes have been few and far between and as I grow older my ambition fades. I am human enough to admit that I would love to be “discovered” by some publishing genie but, in reality, I have little time for such thoughts and very rarely submit poems other than by invitation. I would rather be writing than waiting for rejection slips. This does not mean that I disapprove of such ambition in others - in fact I find it admirable in many cases - simply that I am happy in my laziness and with what I produce. I do not think that artistic talent has a peak in any real sense. There may be times when “best” works are produced but, once again, that is largely subjective. The last, tired musings of a dying man may not seem relevant to the angst-filled forward-looking youngster (and vice versa) but time will always prove that there is common ground. I am always looking forward to the poems which I have yet to write.
What inspires you to write? In the process of writing, do you find yourself?
Dependent on my mood, almost anything can inspire me. I have written on just about everything from death to marshmallows and would stand by the validity of them all. It is the poem which matters. Form and content should be a blend. It is not enough to choose a “serious” topic or adhere to some clearly defined form: there needs to be harmony. I’m not sure that I have found myself - but I intend to keep looking.
Can you define the style of writing which you prefer to write in and which other poetic style you would like to explore further?
I would say that I prefer free verse and certainly, in my earlier days I tended to avoid rhyme. However, as already mentioned, I don’t think that there should be rules. I now find it irritating when people say that they “never” read/write one form or another. Life is too short and varied to make time for absolutes. I always found it sad, when asking students to write, that “does it have to rhyme” was the perennial question. “What do I want to say?” is the important point. Sometimes the rhythmic fluidity of a sonnet may be the perfect choice for expressing oneself but at other times a chunk of rambling free verse, written in colloquial language, will do the job best. The same can be said of all forms. For example, Narrative verse is not superior to haiku: the two forms have their functions and should both be lauded. I would never wish to tie myself to any one form and hope that I never tire of trying new ones, happily making and breaking rules as I go.
What have you gained from having a blog for your work? Do you also have another website where you present your work? Please mention the site where we can find you creativity?
I enjoy writing for the blog. It provides a gentle spur, if such an oxymoron makes sense, keeping me diligent, while giving me the knowledge that a few people will read my words. I also like the thought of those friendly virtual faces writing for me - letting me share their dreams.
I do not have another website. I do not keep an archive on the blog but, periodically, I will re-post poems; either because I particularly like them or because I am short of inspiration. Sometimes, when browsing my own records, I will find a poem which I have forgotten writing: another good reason for a re-post.
Each creativity or art takes the person who pursues it on a journey and at times it becomes a process of give and take. What has your creativity given back to you and would you recommend that we pursue our creativity?
One can’t destroy the landscapes of the heart
For mem’ry’s canvas won’t allow a crack
To mar a lovetime’s aggregated art.
Staid sages say there is no going back,
And yet there is, for nothing that we’ve held
Or cared for for a time is ever left.
The path’s o’ergrown, the forest may be felled
But lives on in a heart that can’t be cleft.
Each beach I’ve walked on, field in which I’ve lain,
Exists for me as if I dreamt there still.
Those mountains, rivers, inlets form a chain
Which even death cannot destroy. My will
Leaves them to you, to all of us a part -
One can’t destroy the landscapes of the heart.
As we reach the shore, ending is always hard. You can dive more in to Floots words and images in his blog http://i-land-i-site.blogspot.com/
All poems and images are copyright of Floots ....