Therese Lloyd – a Q&A

We launch Therese Lloyd's new poetry collection The Facts at the Festival Club in Wellington on Thursday night. Ahead of this we asked her 14 (sonnet length!) Proustian questionnaire type questions relating to her poetry practice.


What is your greatest fear?

Jeepers, you mean other than being tortured to death? Um, I’m ornithophobic, so I’m not great around birds. From a distance, fine, but up close and fluttery? God no.

Why did you let Anne Carson guide the poems in your new book?

I was writing my PhD on an aspect of Carson’s poetry and she just kind of took over. I liked the way her characters dealt with grief and desire and heartache; they seemed to offer clues on how to live. I was having a rough time in general (your personal life doesn’t stop just because you’re doing your PhD unfortunately) and I was constantly amazed at the parallel narratives in her poems and what was happening in my own life. I guess I just needed some creative support and Carson was ready and waiting.

Who is your favourite poetic hero/ine?

Ray, the visual artist character from Carson’s book The Beauty of the Husband. I wouldn’t say he’s my poetic hero, but I love his eccentricities and homespun wisdom. I imagine him as a kind of Philip Clairmont figure painting garish oversized canvases with lots of purple and orange.

When and where were you happiest?

Sitting on a comfy couch on a veranda early on a crisp Central Otago morning, drinking a coffee and smoking a fag, newly in love and incredulous. 14 March, 2017. (I don’t smoke anymore but I’m still in love...win win!)

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself as a poet?

Not writing ideas and lines down as soon as I get them, thinking, ‘I’ll remember that’, and of course, I never do. In other words, laziness.

What is the trait you most deplore in other poets?

Smugness.

What is your greatest extravagance in your poetry?

Occasionally inserting little secret messages in my poems for friends.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue in poetry?

Two things: accessibility and inaccessibility.

Which words or phrases do you most over-use in your poems that an editor has to help you erase?

So far nothing that’s been noted, but my spelling has got me into trouble more than once!

What do you consider your greatest poetic achievement?

I have to say, I’m pretty happy with the title poem from The Facts. It was one of those poems (a bit like ‘Compost’ from Other Animals) that needed to be long. A friend from my PhD group described it as ‘wrought from fire’, which is pretty intense, but on the money!

What is the quality you most admire in any living poet?

When being asked, ‘What do you do?’, saying, ‘I write poetry’. That’s brave.

What is it you most dislike?

I’m sure you mean this question as a follow on to the preceding one, but I fancy reading it literally, in which case: cruelty to animals, hot avocado, and the word ‘lozenge’.

If you were to die and come back as a person or an animal, what do you think it would be?

If I get a say in it I’d like to come back as one of those deep-sea jellyfish, just quietly doing my thing mostly undisturbed. But if I don’t get a say, who knows…maybe I’ll come back as me again and aim to do a really bang up job of it next time around!

Who has been the greatest influence on you, um, poetically?

Anne Carson, Bernadette Hall, and more recently, Siri Hustvedt, Maggie Nelson, and Bill Wilson.