Interview with Neil Slevin, whose poem ‘Ghost’ can be found in Issue One of Into The Void.
Why do you write and what is it you hope to achieve in doing it?
I write because I am drawn to, usually by thoughts and ideas that I need to get down on paper so that I can explore and make sense of them, then tease out what follows.
By writing, I hope to reach out and relate to others who share emotions and experiences similar to my own; to let them know that they are not alone, something I believe to be the function of writing and art.
Also, I write because I would like to gather up my best poems and have them published as collections in the near future. Currently, I am working on two collections, The Letters I Never Sent and I Am, both of which I want to see in print sooner rather than later.
What are the major themes found in your work, and why?
It’s only recently that I’ve started to consider my work thematically, and to write with a specific theme or pattern in mind. Many of the poems that will comprise The Letters… revolve around the things we leave unsaid or are unable to say at a particular moment or time in our lives, or to a specific person. Many of them feature a narrator speaking directly to a specific person, trying to make up for lost time and words.
On the other hand, I Am is a celebration of Irish life and landmarks, specifically those of the Northwest, where I was born and raised. These poems describe and give voice to specific places, such as Glencar waterfall in Co. Leitrim and The Gaelic Chieftain sculpture in Co. Roscommon.
Why is literature important?
Literature is important because it reminds us that we are not alone; and even when we are, it is there to help us escape from our isolation.
What are some of your favourite writers?
Always a tough question. On a populist note, I love anything and everything by J.K. Rowling. Poetry-wise, I’m a fan of Simon Armitage and Sylvia Plath, while I appreciate anyone who can condense his or her work into a confined space, such as those found in flash fiction. The less words the better, at least sometimes.
What book are you currently reading/last read?
The last major book I read was Sarah Baume’s Spill Simmer Falter Wither (though I did sneakily re-read Julian Barnes’ The Sense of an Ending soon after that). I always enjoy reading books that break the conventional mould and offer me something new in terms of voice and style, so I appreciated Baume’s book, particularly her imagery and often stunning sentences, but it wasn’t a page-turner for me.
What’s your favourite piece from Issue One?
I had several ‘favourite’ pieces: J. Rafael’s ‘Arabella Drowning’, Bruce Majors’ ‘Breakfast’, and Jay Helmstutler’s ‘The World Without’ are all great; but Dominic Martin’s ‘Soft in Mouth’ is just a majestic piece of writing.
Where else can we find your work?
You can find my work in many places, more, I hope, by the time you read this. The Galway Review, Scarlet Leaf Review, and Artificium: The Journal are just some of them.
What’s on the horizon for you with your writing?
Right now, I am about to submit my Portfolio of Writing to conclude my M.A. in Writing course at N.U.I. Galway, from which I hope to graduate with honours in November. In the mean-time, I’ll keep writing and pursuing any and every writing opportunity that comes my way.
You can find Neil on Twitter @neil_slevin.