Poet Puzzlers – David Underdown

Today’s poet for the puzzling comes to us from realms so distant only the fae people know their true names. Legend has it that if you evoke his name and demand for your baby brother to be taken away, he might just send along some puppet goblins to steal the child. It doesn’t sound like fun but I’m told there’s always music, dancing, and nobody frowns upon a tight pair of riding jodhpurs. Anyhoo read on to find out just how puzzled David Underdown can be (and don’t go THAT way, never go THAT way)…

  1. What would you like to be reincarnated as?

I always thought it would be nice to be a duck, or rather a drake, on a popular pond. But if I was self-isolating I’d probably choose to be a cat – on a sunny windowsill.

2. What did you want to be when you were at school?

An astronomer until I found out that they are nothing to do with space travel and don’t look through telescopes much.

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

So many. Zafar Kunial’s ‘Us’; at the moment I am reading Jean Sprackland’s ‘Green Noise’ and love her way of seeing the world; but my Desert Island collection would be David Constantine’s ‘Nine Fathom Deep’.

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

‘Torschlusspanik’ – literally the fear of the closing of the gates and hence of leaving things too late. It’s nothing to do with being a certain age of course.

Also ‘frugal’ because it was how my father lived.

5. Do you have a hidden skill or talent?

I can fold an empty crisp packet into a satisfyingly compact triangle.

6. What is your favourite insect?

Woodlice, or slaters as they are called in Scotland. They have shared whatever house I’ve lived in and I like their gentle busy-ness.

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

Vultures, provided I was sure it was properly dead.

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

On the island of Harris there is a modern eco-house where you can watch the Hebridean weather without having to be out in it.

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

Read ‘Embers’ by Sandor Marai – pure distilled wisdom.

Also my paternal grandmother who had a kiln in her bathroom, took up fibreglass sculpture in her eighties and once, when it was cold, screwed a gimlet into her bedroom wall so she could dangle a two bar electric fire above her bed and feel the radiant heat.

David Underdown (www.davidunderdown.co.uk) is a Mancunian by birth but has spent much of his life in the West of Scotland. He currently lives in Hebden Bridge. Until last year he was an organiser of the McLellan Poetry Competition. His two collections, both published by Cinnamon, are Time Lines (2011) and A Sense of North (2019) and you can find them at the Cinnamon website: https://www.cinnamonpress.com/index.php/author-menu/authors/155-david-underdown

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