New Voice Project writer Lorenzo Conti takes a walk on the poetic side, with producer of international poetry-zine ‘Dream Catcher’, Alan Gillot.
Which topics do you usually write about?
I tend to write about corruption, unfair politics, and then I’ll notice the strangeness about things. I might look at something that is extraordinary beautiful, saying that you’ll realise that will be a housing estate next week. It’s looking beyond what you see.
What do you think about current politics?
It’s as bad as it always has been. If you look at history, politics is always difficult; even when things look good, there’s somebody on the take who is going to exploit the people.
Can a writer or a poet improve his writing throughout his career?
Yes: writing, writing, writing. For a poet, also reading. The act of performing a poem to people means that you get better. For example, we run a poetry Open Mic Night, and on a previous night we ran in America, we ensured one of our own poets performed. And every time one of our people did a feature, all their new poetry got better, and that was because of two things. Firstly, they were reading their work critically for the first time, to get ready for the feature. Secondly, they were performing and understanding what works and doesn’t work. It’s more difficult for a novel-writer, but even they will benefit from reading to people.
At one time, I used to write a technical newsletter for computer-people, and I found that there are always good ways of getting rid of words, whichever type of writing you do. So you can get better! You get better with feedback, with talking to people, and with getting rid of words
What do you like most about poetry?
Poetry is a good idea in very few words.
What does York mean to you ?
That’s a difficult one. I’ve only been here about ten years. The city is dying. The bulk of the working North is basically around tourism. If you just think about how much the stores pay for rent and how few people there are in there buying stuff, you know that they’re not covering their costs. And a number of stores have already gone because they’re not prepared to invest anymore in the city. 10 years ago there were 8 fine art galleries in York, now there are none.
Are there some references to York in your poetry?
I have a couple of poems which describe York as a Disney show. Everybody comes, they go home and then the streetcleaners come out getting ready for the tourists to come again. And there’s another poem about York as an old lady, sitting to one side of her chair, with old and dusty jewels.