Tuesday, 21 March 2000

From "Don't Start Me Talking"

Ed. Tim Allen & Andrew Duncan.

HUTCHINSON: I’ve never been one for manifestoes, or general theorising. In fact when I was a literary academic I shut out a lot of developing theory quite deliberately – sidestepping hermeneutics and most of those French-based contrivances. I didn’t want it cluttering up my responses to poetry, and I don’t feel I missed all that much. Whatever has shaped the words has been personal and not schematic. Though I’m not against criticism per se – especially when it happens to be true, or makes you smile.

DUNCAN: Can you nonetheless be drawn into some theorising about what contributes to the effects of poetry?

HUTCHINSON: At the level of language, the energy of poetry – its emotional and intellectual energy – springs from a mix of the demotic and the hieratic: joining up or breaking away. If one gains ascendancy, or settles in, the other will soon enough appear as a corrective. MacDiarmand and Joyce both worked to extremes of each, that’s part of what makes them pre-eminent – the range and subtlety. But if you don’t look out, or have no wish to stop, you can end up talking to yourself.

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