Poetry or Making Love?

 That’s a tough call and I might have to dodge the question by insisting they’re the same thing. I’ve always said the connection between a writer and a reader is like a settled relationship – one in which you take your time, learn about each other, go back and start again when needed. The connection between a speaker and an audience on the other hand is like a wild one night stand.


Los Angeles or Vienna?

That’s definitely not the same thing. That the grass is always greener on the other side is annoyingly true. As I write this, the temperature in Vienna is a balmy 28F. Do not complain to me on Skype, or to anyone else in the world how hot it is. We will hate you for it. But, I do miss the poetry scene in the US. Vienna, though, is a more organized place with a better social and health system, transport and sexy lederhosen.


Billy Collins or Mexican food?

I think Billy Collins is easier to digest and you tend to fart a lot less after a few of his poems. I genuinely like his work, have a few books at home, but it does slightly unnerve me that major bookstores don’t take a chance on anyone but the established names. Ask any British or Irish poet to name American poets and the majority will mention Collins, Hughes, Plath, Bukowski; in a similar way Americans when pressed for British or Irish poets or writers will come up with Heaney, Joyce, Yeats, and Heaney again. I always feel so happy to discover a new book, a new publisher or a new voice. I just finished “Early Hour” by Michael McGriff (Copper Canyon). It’s the stuff magic comes a distant second to. I’m also keeping an eye on Write Bloody and their catalogue.


Eating sushi with a fork or walking down a stalled escalator?

“The beautiful must be incongruous.” So said Julien Torma (4 Dada Suicides). If things went according to plan every day, I would say life becomes boring, over-predictable. On saying that, we all love a good whine – especially the Viennese; it’s part of the culture. I also know plenty of people who are “so stressed right now” and “are super busy right now”. It might be fair to say we need conflict, someone or something to throw a spanner in the works; a good poem needs it, a story needs it. But sushi with a fork is so wrong.


Reading a book of poems or going to the movies?

I really enjoy the movies I have to say. There’s something about pulling down your flip-seat and settling into that giant screen that Netflix and the likes will never recreate. But I couldn’t do that 5 days a week – I couldn’t afford to. A book of poems though is there to be dipped into every coffee break, on your morning commute, whenever the fancy takes you. I always find that with (good) poetry, you can say as much with so few words as can be read in a 100 page book or viewed in a 2 hour movie.


A Pulitzer or an Oscar?

A Pulitzer, no questions about it. An Oscar is great, but it’s more about the individual and their talents. I think any kind of writing award, be it a Pulitzer, the Griffin etc., is also a tip of the hat to the publisher and hopefully draws more attention to them and the other poets whom they publish.

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NEIL McCARTHY hails from the southern tip of Ireland, but has spent the last decade flitting between Vienna and Los Angeles. His poems have appeared in journals and anthologies all over the world and have also been translated and published in Romania, Hungary and Serbia. Neil has performed solo and with musicians at multiple Fringe festivals, embassies, literary events, and his debut collection Stopgap Grace is a culmination of ten years' of travelling and working while casting a sometimes poignant, sometimes critical eye on the island he left behind.

One response to “Neil McCarthy: The TNB Self-Interview”

  1. Well done, Neil! Glad to feature you on TNB!

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