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Poetry will never die, as long as we keep using language. This is what British poet Adam O’Riordan thinks when he hears that talk about the 21st century eating poetry alive. Words have the ability of catching the eye, they form images beautifully and that’s unmistakably powerful. It is said about Adam that his writing is intimate without being confessional and his published book, In the Flesh, was a confident debut. We have a talk with him about what poetry means today and the subjects that concern him as a writer, which seem to recall those from the romantic era. 
Today, in a world where promptness is a value and images catch all the attention, what is the role of poetry?
I think poetry can do those very things; breifly command attention but also remain memorable. It can retrun us to the wonder and innate mystery of the world.
Having a good command of language is powerful and, clearly, poetry is about that. Do you think that, despite all these changes and challenges, poetry still will be important, as long as it engages with people?
I think poetry is essentially a function of language so as long as we speak poetry will inevitably be a by-product of that. The occasional talk we hear of poetry 'dying out' or poetry 'coming back into fashion' doesn’t really ring true. As long as we use language we’ll find a away of making something beautiful or memorable from it.

Do you, as a writer, think about the reader? Do you try to relate to them in any way? 
I think most writers primarily, in the first instance, write for themselves which is to say write something that would satisfy themselves as a reader. Beyond that I suppose writers hope or dream of finding a readership who will enjoy the work or who might respond to it in a way that is sympathetic.
About your published book, In the Flesh, The Guardian said it has an “established feel —as if you had been around for decades”. Do you think it has more to do with a certain romanticism in your subjects or the form?
I’m not sure really. I think my work think about history a lot, about the way we reconstruct the past and about draw, the allure and, of course, the danger, of doing that. What lasts, what vanishes, and what remains. 
Having read some of your poems, there are a couple things that seem to concern you: the passing of time and what could have been but never was. What is it that makes these subjects important to you?
I guess they’re the things I feel most deeply. The things that I’m puzzled by but also drawn to.

Is your creative process impulsive or do you take your time to shape the message in a certain way?
It begins with an impulse, and image say or a line but then that’s usually worked away at over months or years.
What poets have inspired you the most?
Spanish language poets probably Lorca and Neruda. In English Michael Donaghy and Andrew Motion where big influences. Carol Ann Duffy, my colleague here at the Writing School at Manchester Met, was, and remains, a guiding influence not just for her writing but her largeness of heart and generosity of spirit. David Shook, who I think you interviewed here recently, is one of the publishers I admire most for his work with endangered languages.
You teach Poetry and Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University. What do you think of academia when it comes to creativity? Is talent something that can be taught?
I think we can teach people to be better readers of their own and of other peoples work. We can also teach a range of techniques and skills which improve the way writers write. I think our track record of published authors from the course (over eighty now) shows we’ve got the balance right so far.

Reading poetry versus listening to poetry. What do you think is best? Are some poems written to be read aloud?
I think both work. 
Are you working on any new projects at the moment?
I’m finishing a novel and also working on a pilot for a TV series with the novelist Joe Stretch.

Aida Belmonte

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