Just for a bit of fun, I thought I’d have a go at interviewing other authors. Richard Stephenson Clarke’s beautiful book of shaped poety – Presents of Mind – launched last month, and he’s agreed to be my first victim!
I’ve decided to go with a riff on Desert Island Discs – interviewees get to choose 5 music tracks and answer 5 or 6 vaguely literature-related questions, and choose one book and one luxury item to take to their island. As always, they get the Bible and the Complete Works of Shakespeare thrown in.
Me: So, Richard – the important things first; what’s your favourite writing food?
Richard: Oh, cake! Coffee and walnut, preferably.
Me: Good choice! And drink?
Richard: Hmmm. Vintage port… or coffee. Black, no sugar, please.
Me: Is there a coffee-related theme building here? Perhaps we should move on to the music. What’s your first track?
Richard: This is terribly difficult, you know! it’s like being asked to choose which is your favourite child! Let’s start with the 3rd movement of Beethoven’s Archduke trio.
Me: Lovely! I hate to lower the tone – but what’s your favourite TV show?
Richard: Ah, that’s easy! The Big Bang Theory!
Me: No thought required on that one! And your next track?
Richard: How about anything by Supertramp?
Me: Coming right up! Here’s a “Best of” compilation:
Me: Let’s get back on books – what’s your favourite book ever?
Richard: Anything by PG Wodehouse! I could read those till the cows come home.
Me: And some music to go with that?
Richard: Let’s have Schubert’s Shepherd on the Rock. Ideally with Dame Janet Baker, if possible.
Me: I couldn’t find a recording with Janet Baker. Here’s Beverley Sills singing soprano instead.
Richard: Oh yes, that’ll do!
Me: Now, what’s the last book you read?
Richard: I’m just finishing The Girl Who Smiled Beads by Clemantine Wamariya and Elizabeth Weil.
Me: That’s a war book, isn’t it? What music would you like to follow it with?
Richard: Hahn’s L’Heure Exquise; I like the Julian Lloyd Webber recording. It’s just such a wonderful evocation of moonlight. The book is about Clementine’s journey through the displacement & horror of war, and I think music like L’Heure Exquise speaks of enduring hope, peace & beauty that transforms the dark.
Me: That is gorgeous. All right, nearly at the end. You can choose one book to take with you to your desert island – what will it be?
Richard: Something silly like The Adventures of Asterix, please. I’d need a good laugh on a desert island!
Me: – good choice! And your luxury?
Richard: A really good Hi-Fi system, please – and my music collection!
Me: All of it? Oh, all right! What would you like to play us out with?
Richard: Anything from the countertenor Philippe Jaroussky – he has the most amazing voice!
Me: Super! One of my favourite artists too. Would you mind if we had one of my favourites? Vivaldi’s Stabat Mater.
Thank you, Richard – I’ve thoroughly enjoyed your choices!
Presents of Mind is a collection of shaped poetry: reflections on psychotherapy and the creative energy and healing power of the mind, in a tapestry of metaphors and forms. It is written for anyone who finds life a challenge, for clients and students of therapy, for counsellors, psychotherapists, and others concerned with mental health.
Presents of Mind is available as an A4, full-colour paperback from Etsy
Richard discusses the book, its imagery, and his process on his blog.