Adrian Manning is a poet from Leicester, England. He has published 13 chapbooks and broadsides over the last few years and is the editor of Concrete Meat Press. His poetry has been published in numerous electronic and print publications in Europe, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States. You can visit with him at Concrete Meat Press at this link: http://concretemeatpress.co.uk/index.htm.
Interview by: g emil reutter
GER: What drew you to the Meat Poetry movement and do you find there is still an active audience for this school of poetry?
AM: I became an avid reader of Charles Bukowski about 25 years ago through his novels and then his poetry. I was really attracted by his direct approach to writing – putting down the words in a way that anyone could understand and writing about the real things that happened in his life. Through Bukowski I got into reading poetry by William Wantling and Steve Richmond amongst others. I feel that Meat Poetry is about these real experiences and responses that these poets wrote about no matter how ugly or uncomfortable they may be. Because of this I think there is still a valid place for this type of poetry and I feel that in the poets and publications I read there is definitely an active audience still. There must always be a poetry that deals with this, in my opinion – straight, real and having meaning to the non – academic poetry reader.
GER: As an artist can you tell us of the interaction between your poetry and art and how they may influence one another?
AM: I am an artist in a very amateur way! I am totally untrained and some may say of limited skill – I would not disagree. The type of art I like to create is simple, direct and to the point – just like the poetry in many ways, so I guess there is a link there. I also like abstract, collage and mail art – juxtaposing random and unusual bedfellows. In a sense that has a link to my poetry where I like to find interesting uses of description or metaphor – something that would not be the obvious thought. In this way the poems and art may influence each other.
GER: You are the Editor of Concrete Meat Press that publishes chapbooks and broadsides. What do you look for in submissions and do you have a set list of contributors?
AM: The only criteria I look for is that I like the work. I like a poem to hit me and make me think. I like a good turn of phrase and interesting ways of getting a point across that stay with me for a while after I’ve read the poem. I don’t go for rhyming or cliché and I often pass on work that is ‘clever’ for the sake of being ‘clever’. Going back to the idea of Meat Poetry – something that is direct, straight and honest but written in an interesting way will usually be considered for publication. When considering submissions I look at the work. I know a number of poets who always send high quality work consistently and it is always a pleasure to publish something by them. I do also very much enjoy publishing work by poets who may be new or unknown to me. I send out invites to a number of poets I am familiar with, but am always happy to receive submissions from others who I don’t know of.
GER: As a poet your work has been published widely in print and electronically. The submission process is sometimes daunting, what advice would you give to new poets regarding the process?
AM: First of all, be happy with what you are submitting – be confident that you think it is a good poem. Don’t send it if you aren’t happy with it. Follow submission guidelines! Read what the editor says! If you can, read issues of the publications and consider whether you feel your work fits the publication. Most importantly, be prepared for a knockback or two. It may take a while to be published, but don’t give up! Also if you get accepted, don’t expect to be accepted every time! Keep writing, keep submitting and keep working at it.
GER: Kendra Steiner Editions recently released These Hands of Mine. Share with us the development of the collection and what it is about.
AM: I wrote a poem which was a meditation on my hand – something that I noticed about it. I found myself focusing on my hands and going into this thought process about how important my hands were, what they have been a part of and what they are capable or incapable of. I then began a process of writing a number of poems about these things – accidents, work, art, love – all aspects of life and eventually thought I had a short collection of poems which I entitled These Hands of Mine. I contacted Bill Shute, the amazing poet and editor at KSE and he liked the so he put the chapbook together.
GER: Bottle of Smoke Press published three of your chapbooks, Wretched Songs for Out of Tune Musicians, A Tourist a Pilgrim, A Truth, and Repeating The Mantra. What was it like working with Bill Roberts and having the books published on a letter press?
AM: Bill Roberts is incredible! I had published a number of poems in different places when I sent Bill some poems for his consideration having read his first short collection by A D Winans. He wrote back with such enthusiasm and he had a plan including a cover artist, Henry Denander and he was such a professional! I was living in Spain at the time and he was in the USA, but it was a dream. Bill has since published chapbooks and broadsides of my poems and I admire him and his press so much – everything he does is amazing. The letterpress publications have always looked amazing and he is so creative and continues to be so. One of the best presses around!
AM: I heard that Silver Birch Press were putting together a Bukowski themed anthology with writing about or influenced by Bukowski so I decided to send them a number of poems I had written. Bukowski is my favourite writer and I have written a number of linked poems and luckily they accepted five poems to go into the anthology. I was very happy when they put Religion up on their blog. I haven’t seen the finished publication yet, as I believe it is out in the very near future. I am looking forward to it as I hear there are going to be some great writers in there including the wonderful David Barker, I believe.
GER: Who are your favorite poets writing today and how do they influence you?
AM: I constantly find myself to be impressed by and in awe of so many talented and brilliant poets – it could be a long list! The way they influence me is that they write such fine poetry that I just have to sit up, take notice and think – I need to work to achieve something like that. I think I enjoy their poetry because they write in their own unique voice and they address the issues that affect me or those around me. They are also masters of their craft and the way they write their poems, use their words and know when enough is enough is something that continues to be an influence. To name some names I have read over a long period of time – A D Winans, Ronald Baatz, David Barker, John Dorsey, Robert L Penick and Hosho McCreesh have always delivered. Wolf Carstens is someone I happen to be reading at the moment and he is great. If you look at the contributors to Concrete Meat Sheet at the Concrete Meat Press website, you will see so many great poets who I have had the pleasure to be able to read and publish.
AM: If I am totally honest, I prefer print publication. There is nothing to match holding a beautiful piece of work in your hands and being able to feel it between your fingers. The incredible work that so many small press publishers create is so breathtaking that I just want to see it. The aforementioned letter press or signed, illustrated copies of items that I get are a wonder and to see your own work in something like that is fantastic. However, often these are limited in number and it can be a costly business so I see why electronic publication is favourable to many. I had the same dilemma with my Concrete Meat Sheet, which started as a print publication. Due to costs and wanting to be able to share the work more widely, I took the decision to publish it online, but as I say, ideally I prefer print.
GER: What projects are you currently working on?
AM: I have just put Concrete Meat Sheet 15 up on line which is a short fiction issue and I’ll be working on issue 16 shortly which will be a poetry issue. I am hoping to publish a small chapbook in the near future which will collect some poems by one of my favourite poets, James Quinton, who sadly passed away last year. My chapbook These Hands of Mine, mentioned in a previous question is no longer available from KSE, but I am going to republish it through Concrete Meat Press. It will have a hand painted cover and will include the poems from the KSE publication plus These Hands of Mine in Dub – a stripped back version of each poem which is how each poem originally started before they were fleshed out. I like the idea of doing something musical, such as a dub version – hey I might even do a remix of some of my poems someday! I would love to put together a publication of a collection of the best poems from all my previous chapbooks, broadsides and magazine publications. If anyone is interested, I’d love to hear from them!
You can read the poetry of Adrian Manning in The Fox Chase Review at this link: http://www.foxchasereview.org/11WS/AdrianManning.html and