Interview with Andrew McMillan

Could you reflect on your relationship to the telephone, in the past or in the present, and say something about how this might have informed your poem?

As someone who travels a lot for work, and is often on the last train home from somewhere, I think of the phone as a lifeline to the outside world when I’m stranded at stations or in the soup of a delay. Something about that notion of reaching out across the night, across boundaries, certainly came into it, I think.

How did you go about producing the work for this project? Were there any materials, anecdotal, literary or otherwise, that proved generative for you?

After the initial email came through I was in a taxi late at night, heading back from the station to home. As is often the case, the taxi driver was chatting quietly to someone on their hands free, occasionally lapsing into long pauses or silences and then starting up again. It’s something I’ve encountered quite a lot and something which really interests me –  particularly in the dead of night, it seems to me an intensely intimate conversation.

How much was the recording of the poem, and the format(s) through which the poem will be reproduced (i.e. a public phone booth and mobile app), a consideration in the composition?

I think knowing a poem is immediately for public consumption means that there’s a straightforwardness to what gets said, there’s an immediacy to the language that feels necessary.

Are there any other reflections you can make about the process of producing the poem, or your participation in the project?

Just, I guess, that it’s always interesting to be pushed into writing something which isn’t the usual thing one would write.

May 2020