Poet Puzzlers – Clint Wastling

Today’s poet, though puzzled, is not a man to be trifled with. He’s had many roles and many faces, all of them involving being handy with his fists, and most being handier with a gun. From those lonely days wandering the West surviving on the respect of the men he gunned down, to more recently, where he was found coming to the aid of his young neighbours when a gang tried to rope a poor boy into being a drug mule, though he’d much rather be sat on his porch with a beer admiring his Gran Torino. We asked him if he felt lucky. Well, do you think he did, punk?

  • What would you like to be reincarnated as?

After careful thought, I decided on an Amazon parrot. I’d look after that green and yellow plumage and make the most of being able to explore the Amazon rain forest by flight. Being able to fly is the prerequisite for reincarnation. Parrots are sociable creatures like myself, so that’s a plus, maybe they even engage in poetry! Being able to fly out of trouble is a must as I don’t want to meet up with any large spiders or insects! I know parrots occasionally eat insects, I’d have to become a vegetarian one!!

  • What did you want to be when you were at school?

Growing up in the 60’s, I was fascinated by space travel, so being an astronaut was number one—I’d still love to be an early space tourist despite the vibrations and noise of doing a launch simulation at Kennedy Space Centre last year! Being a geologist was always second but more realistic!  After finding dinosaur footprints in rocks north of Scarborough when I was 8,  I was hooked. I only officially managed to work as a geologist for a few years before shifting to chemistry lecturing but anyone whose read my novel, The Geology of Desire, will be aware of how deeply all that Earth History has got into my psyche. I love to get geology in poetry as well – am I the first to write a poem about an unconformity, an ammonite, ode to a piece of quartz?

  • What was/were the last good poetry book/s you read?

Carol Ann Duffy’s The World’s Wife is one I return to. I heard her read from the collection once and was hooked on the ideas in it after hearing Mrs Tiresias.  Any of Pat Borthwick’s collections, the way she marries family history into a casual observation is amazing and her work on The Wolds prompted my own search for meaning in landscape.

  • Do you have a favourite word? And could you tell us what it is? (and maybe why?)

Propinquity – a similarity in nature or tendency to form romantic friendships. It was a word I came across several times in the stories and novels of  W Somerset -Maugham but I’ve never been able to place it in a poem or rather it didn’t survive the editing stage!

  • Do you have a hidden skill or talent?

Not really, it’s probably so well hidden I haven’t realised it yet!

  • What is your favourite insect?

Butterflies – That would be a strong second for the next poetry collection. I love walking in The Pyrenees and try to get there twice a year and the mountains teem with butterflies, brimstone yellows, red admirals, Apollo, Swallowtails, 134 species so far—so many and profuse – much like our countryside before insecticides became over-used.

  • What would be your preferred way to dispose of a body?

I love the dark humour of Breaking Bad and lecturing in chemistry I know hydrofluoric acid is the one to go for—but ensure you use an inert plastic bath or disaster will ensue!

  • Do you have a favourite building? (and what/where is it and why?)

Scarborough Castle. I grew up in Scarborough, playing in the North Bay with its magnificent views of the castle. I’ve returned on my own to research a series of poems about the ruins and with  our kids for picnics. There’s always something new to learn or a change in the light which enables a view from Flamborough Head to Hayburn Wyke. You can even put a metre rule to the horizon to see the curve of the Earth! The lovers Edward II and Piers Gaveston spent their last night together in the castle’s royal palace – there’s no trace of it now.

  • Do you have a book, event, project, invention, cat, anything you’d like to tell us about?

Layers is my first poetry collection published by Maytree Press. I got as far as a launch in February and then like many others found everything organised was cancelled. I’m currently working on a collection of poems about The East Riding, linking landscape, life and loves. Two successful and two unsuccessful revolutions started in this county – maybe it’s something in the water! East of Zero is the working title from a poem of that name.

Clint Wastling’s  poetry has been published in Blue Nib, Dream Catcher, Strix, Marble and online with The Algebra of Owls. He’s also been published in the USA in Parody and Avocet. Clint has a collection – Layers published by Maytree Press. It contains many published poems and those shortlisted for various competitions. His poem The Lefty Revolution was a winner in the 2018 Northern Writes Award. His novel, The Geology of Desire, is an LGBTQ thriller set around Whitby in the 1980’s and Hull during World War II. He also has a sci-fi novel: Tyrants Rex set 3000 years in the future, both published by Stairwell Books. Clint provides talks and workshops to a wide variety of people about geology, landscape and their importance in poetry.

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