[Interview] Andrew Taylor

Andrew Taylor has written and published eight poetry collections, among them, Turn For Home (The Brodie Press, 2003); Temporary Residence (erbacce Press, 2007) and The Sound of Light Aircraft (Knives, Forks and Spoons Press, 2010).

He has a PhD in Poetry and Poetics and is a founder member of the Edge Hill University Poetry and Poetics Research Group. In addition to that, Taylor also co-edits erbacce and erbacce-press.

In this interview, Andrew Taylor talks about his writing:

How would you describe the writing you are doing?


Some have describe it as innovative, some realist, some post-realist.

I think it’s for others to describe it though rather than me.

Who is your target audience?

Whoever is publishing the poems I guess.

I never have thought of a target audience really. I just hope that those who buy the books do so for the purposes of enjoying the poems and in supporting the small presses who kindly publish the work.

How have your personal experiences influenced your writing?

That’s an interesting question.

I often think that the personal can distract from the writing process. However, that said, others often say that my greatest work to-date is the collection Poetry and Skin Cream which stemmed from a personal experience that I’d rather not go into as it involved someone’s death and was incredibly upsetting for me.

What are your main concerns as a writer?

I’m not sure that I have concerns as such.

Of course, there are personal concerns and concerns for the wider world, such as the environment and that stupid war in Afghanistan and Iraq. But seldom do these things get into the poetry.

What are the biggest challenges that you face?

I guess the challenges I face are the opportunities to write and to make the most of them mixed with my editorial roles at erbacce and erbacce-press, which takes a lot of time.

Do you write everyday?

I try.

My most recent project has been utilizing photographs so this has been a starting point.

I sometimes write into a notebook at home, then type the notes up at the office the following day. That’s quite productive! End points usually stem from when work calls …

How many books have you written so far?

Six, one has been published twice.
  • Turn For Home, The Brodie Press, August 2003. Debut collection that appeared from a press that originated from Liverpool University. Poems in this collection came from a residency at Liverpool Architecture and Design Trust (LADT) that ran 2000-2003.
  • Poetry & Skin Cream, erbacce Press, December 2004. This collection was written after the death of a friend and is extremely personal in content. A hard collection to read from my perspective!
  • Cathedral Poems, Paula Brown Publishing, August 2005. Collection of fourteen poems written during a residency at Liverpool Cathedral. Contains a piece of poetics that appeared in my Doctoral thesis.
  • Poetry & Skin Cream [2nd Edition] erbacce Press, October 2007 Republished as the original edition sold out.
  • Temporary Residence, erbacce Press, October 2007 Written during a residency at Liverpool Art project called the Loft Space which was an artist led project.
  • And the Weary Are at Rest, Sunnyoutside Press, June 2008. Collection submitted to one of my favourite presses. Extremely proud to have worked with David at Sunnyoutside. He’s a talented guy.
  • Make Some Noise, Original Press, August 2009 A manuscript of poems written during Doctoral research in Woking, Surrey, that was rejected by one press as being too oblique. Sent it to Sam at Original Plus, who kindly understood what I was trying to do.
  • The Metaphysics of a Vegetarian Supper, Differentia Press, December 2009. A collection of recent work that Felino was kind enough to accept having published me in his Counterexample Poetics site.
Which authors influenced you most?

Firstly, the Liverpool Poets: Adrian Henri, Brian Patten and Roger McGough. I came to these after secondary education and studying the likes of Keats. They were a breath of fresh air. This ignited my interest in poetry.

During university I became aware of the work of Tom Raworth, Lee Harwood, Robert Sheppard (who became my PhD supervisor) and Scott Thurston. These writers showed me the more experimental side of things that occasionally sneaks into my work. The range I think is what influenced me most.

Also, I have to mention Bukowski who was there from early doors. Of course, Ginsberg and Kerouac, (in the case of Kerouac whose poetry is to many, unknown, is a delight).

Recently, I have returned to some of the masters – Wordsworth, Keats and Rimbaud. I always return to Henri though. He was one of the subjects in my PhD thesis and I can dip into the collected poems at any time and get something new every time. Brilliant and under-rated poet.

How did you chose a publisher for The Metaphysics of a Vegetarian Supper?

I sent Felino Soriano the manuscript of recent work that I had gathered together to see if it worked as a complete text.

I felt that the collection worked and was keen for a publisher/editor I admire, to clarify. Thankfully, Felino did and he has been a fantastic editor to work with. There have been no disadvantages at all. Well, perhaps the fact that Felino lives so far away and I would like to meet him and buy him a drink!

Which were the most difficult aspects of the work you put into the book?

Perhaps the most difficult aspect was the belief in oneself in that I gathered the collection together myself and then passed it on. So perhaps the confidence in one’s own ability was the most difficult thing. I dealt with it by sending it to Felino!

I think the aspect I enjoyed the most was the fact that this collection didn’t stem from a residency, was a collection fully formed and presented to a publisher pretty intact

What sets The Metaphysics of a Vegetarian Supper apart from other things you've written?

I think it is different in that it was a more uncontained collection stemming from my own ideas of a collection.

Also, it is the first e-book that I have been involved in!

It is similar to the others in that it has poems about loss, love and cities in it.

What will your next book be about?

My next book is almost complete. I have yet to approach publishers. It is similar to The Metaphysics of a Vegetarian Supper in the process of writing and the voice that I have tried to achieve. It is a collection of 36 or 37 poems inspired by photographs.

What would you say has been your most significant achievement as a writer?

To be published. Full stop.

For other editors to print and publish the poems is a massive achievement I feel. I am humbled every time my work appears somewhere.

When did you start writing?

I was in a band in Liverpool in the 1980s and by default became the band’s lyricist. From then, whilst studying for my undergraduate degree, I started writing short stories, which in turn led to a Masters degree in writing. The difference though by now was that I started writing poetry.

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