I asked poet Margaret Beston some questions. Her answers are below the cover photo:
Margaret, I recently read your poetry book Timepiece and thoroughly enjoyed it. The collection encompasses many years, places and stories. The poems are personal, often ‘I’ or ‘we‘ but you also use the third person POV. It feels to me that there is a timeline of memories and lives lived. Are the poems inspired by your own life, experiences and travels?
Thank you for asking me about Timepiece , Elly, and yes, you’re right, many of the poems are inspired by experiences in my life: my Catholic upbringing and education; study of foreign languages; the countries I have lived in or travelled to over the years. I have also found in poetry a way of telling other people’s stories in a non-intrusive way – hence the 3rd person POV.
Your poems catch the attention and sometimes startle as when in the first poem the child learned very early that ‘artificial’ meant her dad’s ‘look-alike leg’. You worked as a linguist. It seems to me you have appreciate language and finding the ‘bon mot’. Do you agree?
Several poems struck me with your skill at telling a story and including suspense, details, emotion (Commodity and Wounded and Gestation to name only a few). I sense that you want the reader to feel empathy, to learn important truths about the characters.
As to storytelling, I enjoy it when I find an intriguing story and love to research the background. To me a poem can encapsulate succinctly the essence of a story. You mention my poem Commodity. I came across some 18th-century fashion dolls in a local toy museum. These were used by dressmakers at the time to demonstrate the latest designs to clients. They were perfect in every detail, even to the use of human hair dressed in fashionable coiffures. This led me to think about the girls who sold their hair …
Can you tell us more about the cover design? It’s beautiful.