Kathryn Gray’s The Never-Never (Seren) was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection and for the T. S. Eliot Prize. She is editor of Wales’s leading literary quarterly New Welsh Review and is currently writing a work of creative non-fiction and a second collection of poetry.
Kathryn’s website: http://kathrynlouisegray.blogspot.com
• One thing that’s always worth getting out of bed for
Getting out of bed for my daughter is the biggest pleasure, but it’s also a duty. So too my work, which I adore, but is necessary and which, in any case, can be undertaken on my MacBook in bed when the whim takes me. Thinking of it, many things in life worth doing can be conducted largely from under a duvet, can’t they? The school run in winter is, unfortunately, not such a one.
• One thing about myself that often obstructs me
O woman! Your name is impatience. There are many secrets to a fulfilling life and one of the better ones is mastering the art of waiting. And waiting. And waiting. Let’s just say I am a ‘work in progress’, particularly when it comes down to call centres and developing into the kind of writer I would one day wish to be. Still on hold.
• One thing I’ve learned the hard way
Losing ideas – the bad and the good – about yourself and about other people is probably the hardest lesson to learn and, yet, the most crucial. There are no fixed points. That’s a difficult liberty to embrace, and I resisted it for a good while: presenting, as it does, the challenge of endlessly questioning, looking, being open, moving forward and, of course, forgiving. But I gave in and I am glad I did. It is, after all, the only way to live well – and to be a poet.
• One thing that gets under my skin
In theory, mobility scooters are an excellent invention. In practice – in Haringey, London – moving among them is like being transported into the type of computer games my brother and I played on a Commodore 64 when we weren’t clubbing each over the head with the joystick. I am surely so an advocate of mobility for everyone, as long as they do not jeopardize mine.
• One thing I’d love to change
Corny, definitely, and a little like a Star Trek episode: I’d love it if women could have a crack at running this world. Not from any feminista pose (though I was once skilled in the art). Simply this: once you’ve languished in labour, in extremis, believe me, you’re not going to allow the resulting product of all that great work and borderline derangement go into the middle of a desert so someone they’ve never met can blow their brains out. On another note (and the notes are by no means exhaustive), perhaps under this new regime, the trite, insulting and, yes, dangerous beauty ads we’re forced to endure would be as distant a memory as tobacco advertising now is, and I would stop slavishly heeding their trite, insulting, dangerous call.
• One thing I hope for
Can I ask for two things? The first – pretty obvious and twee, to boot – would be to be remembered well by the people who mattered to me, whose opinion and counsel has always counted. The second – and this one is for poetry posterity – to be forgotten well.