The Writing Process – Blog Tour

ormonde picWhat am I working on?  I’m working on a new pamphlet, entitled Ormonde.  It will be published by Hercules Editions, hopefully later this year. It explores the journey of the HMS Ormonde, which sailed from the Caribbean to Britain in 1947 carrying some of the first West Indian migrants in the post-war period. The Ormonde came the year before the Empire Windrush, but very little is known about it – it’s like a ghost ship – but my father was a passenger on the boat. The poems assume the voices of different passengers expressing their hopes and anxieties about the journey. I’m really enjoying the challenges of ventriloquizing like this. It raises lots of questions about the politics of assuming a collective voice and the voices of real people.

I’m also finishing up the permissions for my memoir Long Time No See, due out in Jan 2015. It maps my childhood growing up in Thatcher’s Britain, increasingly aware of race and racism, with my father’s early years in Jamaica, his involvement in independence politics and his migrations to the US and England.

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

I think that’s a reader’s job to decide. I’m not sure I’m doing anything new in general, but the specifics of the subject matter might be. My mixed race background is unusual because I’m not immediately identifiable as mixed race. I think that creates a tension in my work that addresses race and mixedness as a subject matter. I’m increasingly fascinated with those in-between spaces, the difficulties in classification, with things not appearing as they are. I’m beginning to explore these through formal choices in my poetry.

Why do I write what I do?

There was definitely a therapeutic impulse to my writing when I started, but I think that’s faded now. Chick was a cathartic book and looking back the writing of it was a much delayed grieving process. I’m glad it’s done and I’ve been very happy with the response to the book.

Now I’m partly writing from a political perspective, a left-wing, anti-racist stance, trying to explore the history and present of Britain’s multiculturalism. I’m also writing for the love of a good story – the narrative impulse is very strong in my poetry, but I’ve begun to see how you can convey a narrative across a sequence and allow a lyrical style to emerge in places.

How does my writing process work?

I used to carry a notebook and constantly jot things down, then type them up and work the text into a poem. Now I have a five month old baby, I write in snatches when he’s asleep, and usually straight onto the computer. Often I use metre and rhyme to bring about new ideas and images – so I might only write two lines at a time.  Much less rarely do I write in free verse, and when I do, I’ve usually been reading some good examples of it beforehand. Most of my writing comes out of reading – either other peoples’ collections or often, I have an idea and search around for how other poets have tackled it.

I hope you enjoyed this stop on the blog tour – please check out Richard Scott’s blog next week

Richard Scott was born in London and has won The Wasafiri New Writing Prize, been selected as a Jerwood/ Arvon Poetry Mentee and as a member of The Aldeburgh Eight by The Poetry Trust. His poetry has been published widely in magazines, including twice in Poetry Review and twice in Poetry London. Most recently his poetry has been included in The Poetry of Sex, A Penguin Anthology, turned into the film Dog, which was shown at The Southbank Centre and The ICA, and also set to music by the composer Maxim Boon, to be premiered by the London Symphony Orchestra in July.