‘It concentrates you…it encourages deep reading, rather than the skim that the world is getting used to – this McDonald’s, fast-food language.”
So says poet and musician, Adrian Rice, on the result of taking a good poem seriously in ‘this age of distraction.’
In a fascinating interview for online literary journal, Numéro Cinq, Gerard Beirne invites father and son poets Adrian and Matthew Rice to talk about their writing process, their individual inspiration and possible influence on each other’s work.
Adrian is now settled in Hickory, North Carolina, where he lives with his wife, Molly and their young son, Micah. Matthew addresses us from Carrickfergus, in his native Northern Ireland. Due to technical difficulties, Beirne has edited his questions out of the recording which, oddly enough, hasn’t impacted on the interview (these two can talk!)
Adrian, whose first poetry collection was published in 1990, explains that for a long time he considered himself a reader rather than a writer of poetry. He reveals that at the age of twenty-six he finally accepted that he had written his first poem when his friend, artist Ross Wilson confirmed it as such. Since then he has had several collection of poetry published and won numerous awards.
Matthew on the other hand, appears to have enjoyed a childhood that was immersed in poetry and art, remembering drawing with Wilson in his studio and visits from his father’s poet friends, including Tom Paulin and Ian Duhig.
“Poetry was almost like a ghost in the house that was haunting, in a nice way.”
He reveals that he ‘read and read’ when his dad got rid of the television after the family moved to Islandmagee on the coast of County Antrim. However, it is interesting to hear that he waited until his was almost exactly the same age as his father before he put pen to paper. He has recently compiled his first poetry collection.
The full interview can be read here Uimhir a Cúig | Interview & Poems — Adrian Rice & Matthew Rice
Thanks to Colin Dardis of Poetry NI for sharing.
Matthew and Adrian Rice
I first ‘met’ Adrian Rice virtually when we both posted a tribute poem on the ‘Seamus Heaney – In Memorium’ website after the sad news of the great poet’s death. I spotted his name and messaged him to say I thought we had a mutual friend in a certain Padraig McGuiness (the musician from his university days mentioned in this interview) We still haven’t met in person, but have been communicating online ever since.
I hope to meet Matt for the first time this weekend at the launch of an anthology entitled Connections. This new collection of poetry from Northern Ireland will be published by Community Arts Partnership, Belfast, as part of its Poetry in Motion project. Matt and I have a number of poems in the anthology. At the event he will also read his poem that has been longlisted in the Seamus Heaney Awards for New Writing.
UPDATE: 13th March
Well, I was delighted to catch up with Matt at the Heaney Awards this afternoon in Belfast and afterwards we both enjoyed a friendly chat with celebrated Northern Irish poet, Frank Ormsby.
Above, with Matthew Rice
Below, with Frank Ormsby