15 September 2011

My guest is Michele - known to her readers as 
'Banana the Poet'

Hello Michele - 
tell me about yourself, not just about your book.... who you are, what you do…
Who I am is rather confused. Part of what I do, is try to make sense of things using poetry. Often if I've been pondering on a particularly confusing part of life I will let my mind empty, sit at the keyboard and wait and see what emerges. Then I read the resultant poem and it clarifies matters. I am also a commissioning editor for a tiny independent press, a blogger, social media addict and a thwarted snorkeller.

I believe you used to live in Greece - that sounds idyllic to me. Sun, sand, sea.... what were the nice bits about living abroad?
I loved:
Snorkelling almost every day. 

Getting free wild food…
Figs, lemons, oregano, fennel, rock samphire
sea bass, all manner of fish. 

Sleeping at night with the mosquito screens pulled shut but the double windows wide open
so I could see and hear the wildlife, gaze at the stars as I drifted off and then waking up to the cool morning breeze through the trees on the nearby mountainside.
Getting five or six loads of washing done a day because it took at most an hour to dry on the lines hanging from the balcony.
Feeling as if we were a welcome part of the community.
The beautiful flowers.
The sea, the sea, the sea.

Feeding Fish - Antissamos Beach

What were the not so good? 
Not having good enough conversational Greek to communicate comfortable.
Not being able to flush used toilet paper down the toilet and having to have a little bin for that sort of thing.
 Mosquitoes, no-see-ums and other bitey insects .
The constant sound of barking dogs. They were everywhere in Greece, and they never shut up.
One of the first things I had to do when we were over there was buy earplugs so I could get a proper night's sleep.
Finding out the level of corruption when things went wrong.

Are you intending to stay in Wales now - or does the better weather lure you back to Warmer Climes?
We will probably move again. Home is not a place but a state of mind.  Our son is in his twenties and we are about to enter a new phase in our lives as a family.  Wherever he goes we'll probably go too.

Have you always written poetry - why and when did you start doing it "seriously"
I think I began making songs and rhymes from the moment I could verbalise. I was very solemn about my poetry throughout my young life. I went on a residential course run in South Wales for young poets when I was in my early teens and 'discovered' Lorca and meter.  I mostly wrote songs rather than poems in my twenties. Then in my late thirties I met another writer online who suggested I write and submit some poems to a few anthologies MacMillan books were putting together for children. I wrote six poems over the course of a couple of weeks, sent them off and got one accepted, paid for and published!  That experience shocked me rigid and I stopped writing poetry for a couple of years and tried stand-up comedy instead. In 2005 I discovered blogging. A year later I started my funny poetry blog but it wasn't until 2009 I was brave enough to post my serious poetry online and start publishing my poetry as books.

What influences your ideas?
Absolutely everything and anything.

What advice can you give to people who want to write - and publish - poetry. 
It's not that easy is it?
I'm not the person to ask for advice on this. I don't submit any more, I don't get involved in competitions any more and I self-publish. My personal goal is to produce books people want to read and which are not too embarrassing. So I'm paranoid about production values. Publishing poetry is easy - doing a good job of it is hard and selling it is even harder. I have no idea why people buy mine and I am astonished and grateful every time they do. When my books get into the bestseller lists I am flabbergasted.

Michele is on Facebook if you would like to chat to her
or her website

Ten dinner guests I'd invite and why.
Dan Holloway - writer and general mover and shaker.
Ann Holloway - musician, mathematician and original thinker.
Russell Brand - comedian and slightly less wacky than Dan.
Katy Perry (Brand) - singer and intelligent, innovative successful woman.
Eric Morecambe - He does that thing with the glasses :)
Mrs Eric Morecambe - to keep Eric company.
Elton John - he could do the thing with the glasses with Eric and they could do a duet on the piano. (HH. playing the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order? *laugh* - a famous Morecambe & Wise sketch.)
David Furnish - only polite to invite the partner. I expect he is interesting.
Miranda Hart - I would love to have my photo taken next to her. She is so tall and I'm only 4' 10 ¾.  Plus she is so witty and clever.
Stevyn Colgan - writer, twitterer and generally lovely, lovely bloke who I haven't met yet and want to.

I would like these guests because I'm sure we would all have loads of fun and music and laughing and they are all people I either know (Dan and Ann and Stevyn) or think I would be able to get on with. Though it would be a bit of a squeeze in my tiny living room, if we had nice weather we would be able to have a nice al fresco taverna type dinner outside on our extensive decking.  I hope they all like Greek food.

The best dinner party ever.

Holloways Dan and Ann
are the people I'd choose first of all
and then Miranda Hart
Cos I'm very short and she's tall.
I'd have to invite Steve Colgan
who is clever and fun and well-read,
and Eric Morecambe & wife
ignoring the fact that he's dead.
David Furnish & Sir Elton John
to keep the party merry
and hilarious Russell Brand
and his wonderful wife Katy Perry.
Well those are who I'd invite
for my ten dinner guests
But I have to say I doubt
that they would all say yes.
But the ones I know would come
are the ones that I love best.

Buy Michele's Poetry books from Amazon

Question for you Michele - perhaps you could answer in the comments below....
Why 'Banana the Poet'?

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  1. Banana, you are amazing. Such an interesting interview from an excellent poet and wonderfully encouraging soul! Bless your heart!

  2. Thank you Marie Elena - sounds like you are describing yourself there more than me XXX

    Now do I answer that last interview question politely or with the slightly risque answer which immediately sprung to mind?


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