Following 3 successful self published books, a sold out national tour with "Everything Must Go" - Patrick Jones is back with book "Fuse". With new and selected poetry works (including the moving "dysunitednation") and also the screenplays for the aforementioned E.M.G and Unprotected Sex. The latter dealing with the harm caused by emotional repression inherent in traditional male culture. We caught up with Patrick to discuss some of the ideas behind the art. Read on:
Q: Fuse is the first properly published book isn't it?
A: Well, it is really in the way of having a publisher. Its a funny thing that because to me i've done the 3 books before self published and that, and I think back to William Blake, Walt Whitman and Shelley were all self published. I think in this day and age a lot of self published books are quite useless but the 3 books i've done were in that sort of vein. You're right though when you say its properly published with an ISBN number and all that.
But in a way my first 2 books will always remain my books. But it is nice to hopefully have a wider audience and someone to do all the hard work. I used to sell them for £2 - giving them away in the same way a band would sell there demo's at a gig. I think it just reflects where I am as a writer more now.
Q: As Nicky says in the foreword "its quite dangerous to declare yourself a poet nowadays"?
A: In Wales there's a thing where people think you can become a writer by attending a writing course at the University of Glamorgan. And I just find that a bit anasama really and writers, I don't thing they are born but you wake up in the morning and you write - you haven't got to be told how to write. Its sometimes a career move in a lot of middle class circles, but to me its a vocation really so I suppose I'm a bit down on people who suddenly say "I'm going to be a writer".
I've been writing since 19 / 20 and i'm 36 now so I feel like i've gone through an apprenticeship so to say. But now, especially after "Everything Must Go", I feel i've got to prove myself and people are asking big questions which you relish when you're younger. But when it actually happens I think it forces you to be a better writer almost.
Q: It must have been quite a struggle because you've got a family to look after and there isn't the inheritance or trust fund to fall back on.
A: I've always worked and done jobs, but the last couple of years I was able to concentrate on writing. I also do a lot of work with young people with writing. I enjoy that sort of work cos quite often you can go months without any money coming in. But also there's a few other writers I know who have no dependants and there almost apathetic.
When I worked 8 hours a day, come home and put the kids to bed, the writing was almost like an energy. Wherever we find ourselves we try to follow that vision really of what you want to be.
Q: Its seems like quite a personal thing. I can't imagine you being part of the whole "poetry scene"?
A: I'll go to a poetry reading but I don't like the whole scene. Its very incestuous, especially here in Wales, and as soon as anybody gets any success they slag him or her off. Also I didn't want to be known as a Valleys or a Welsh writer.
When you're younger I think you perhaps cling to things like that. I used to wish I could find a writer who was on my wavelength like the beat generation - Keroac and Gainsberg and all that!!! But i've got to the point where I have that inner strength to do my own thing.
I always wanted to start a movement of young writers in Wales but no-one would have me!!!
Q: I think a lot of modern poetry doesn't seem to touch on important subjects. Its all Oxford / Cambridge students pretending to be from up North with a chip butty in one hand and a pint in the other.
A: I agree - either that or totally abstract where I haven't got a clue what they're on about. I'm quite interested in where these poets are and how they sell their books. I think you're right and I like to see poetry, which isn't propaganda, but reaches out to the important issues that affect us daily. There's so many out there you think as a writer there's 10 things I could write about and attack.
There seems to be all these comic poets that used to fill Mark & Lard on the late night show - all woolly jumpers and been to university like John Hegley. I'm not down on education at all, don't get me wrong, but you've got to be real with it.
Q: Who inspired you to write then?
A: It started off when I was about 18/19 with Keroac and Gainsberg. I was at university doing sociology, and I remember it was my last year, I bought a Walt Whitman book - but I wouldn't read it to I'd finished my exams!!! Little things like that kept me going and then I was up mountains writing.
I always liked writers that didn't aim to confuse or but tell or something about life - Tennessee Williams, Keroac, Albert Camus (even though he's a very deep writer his words made me understand my own life maybe), George Orwell. Quite a male culture of writers I suppose it was.
Q: I think alot of work from your poetry to the plays seems to talk about ideas which are considered quite old fashioned nowadays?
A: Perhaps some people call it naive and I struggle with that because when do we stop being naive - when were 60 and we write a poem we don't understand ourselves - is that intellect!!! I don't want to confuse people. I just want to make beautiful words out of sadness, pain and make people feel something again which in this post-modern age seems a little old fashioned maybe.
Some people say I write in the style of sound bites and slogans but I don't consciously think of that. Some lines I guess are borrowed from adverts and in a sense are an instant fix of poems. Like there's one in there called "dysunitednation" which is about refugees and people judging. And I could have written a very metaphorical poem, but I thought what's the point cos I want people to read that (especially the right-wing people) and think its against them. Its almost like a rap - dooch dooch - very simple rhymes refugee / Vialli - but it said all I wanted to say.
Q: Going back to "dysunitednation". Don't you find it really scary that people are forming their views based on tabloid papers.....?
A:....or the views there parents pick up from those papers. I'm not judging because there are a lot of kids I've met that are almost left wing which is great for me personally. And there's also a middle ground that is anti-everything like Slipknot and Linkin Park.
I'm interested in that type of sub-culture, especially at that age you do cling onto bands and people who are a bit wild and stuff. Part of me says perhaps those things are not good for kids but then I think "no, if they listen to Marilyn Manson and that kind of stuff its promoting young people to try different things and think differently" - so I don't think all is lost on the youth if you know what I mean.
Its just like the whole culture basically - the shopping mall, the McDonalds, the coke, UCI cinema's - we all go there. There's no other choice, even though they give us so much choice its almost like a monopoly. There's almost a generic blandness which young people are susceptible almost.
Q: I think the problem is that if you stand up and say something different you get shot down, literally if you look what happened at the protest over the weekend?
A: I think last year when they first started I was quite sceptical of all these protests. It was like people with mohawks but now i've changed my opinion and I really do admire the people who get out there. Its almost like a sub-culture of discontent which I think we need.
Its hard to remove the real crux of the problem really - George Bush!!!!!! (laughs). Its sad though when somebody gets killed though. Again going back to poets and poets should be at the forefront of that dis-content because pop music isn't. If you look at a band like Radiohead - "No Logo" and all this - but what are they really attacking. If a dodgy indie band did that they'd probably be laughed away but because its Radiohead you have to bow down to them.
Q: Going back to the book and more specifically the play "Unprotected Sex". In short it looks at the harm caused by emotional repression inherent in traditional male culture.
A: Basically what I was trying to say is "whatever man has done to the world, the world has done to man". Its just like a cycle really and how do we stop it. I don't think like Valerie Solanis that basically "all men should be castrated". Its very hard to generalize but most death and violence is caused by males.
You look over the internet and there are so many sites out there for men who have been abused or in violent relationships who are totally alone. It made me want to find a voice for the fractured male as well.
Deep down I think that's why i'm against feminism because I think we should work towards a common goal - perhaps we should borrow traits off each other.
Q: Rounding it off. What stage is "Everything Must Go" the film at?
A: Basically the Manics have part funded development of it as have the Arts Council. Its a company called Fiction Factory which is based in Cardiff and made "Rancid Aluminium" which bombed. I'm working on the script at the moment so its a real project and its quite exciting at the moment. It is Welsh but its kind of like Trainspotting in the sense that its universal.
I don't know whether you've seen the film "La Haine" - but i'd like it to go something like that. Very real dialogue and almost like a documentary feel to it. I want to write a script that is very raw and using young actors in Wales.
I think I'm quite liberated. At first all I could see was the play on stage as a film but then I thought its not going to work. Now I'm just trying to make it more Epic. The main storyline is still there but there's a lot more opportunities to branch off in different directions.
And interesting the thing about the music with that....i tried listening to the Manics music with that and it wasn't working. Now I'm writing now there's a lot of Marilyn Manson because it seems to reflect better the generation I'm writing about now whereas "Design For Life" was more a 20 something song.
"Fuse" is out now via Parthian Books
Official Patrick Jones Website