Monday, April 28, 2014

LIFE OF A POET ~ SCOTT HASTIE

We have a real treat in store this week, kids, as we visit a village outside of London, England - a very interesting and focused poet, beautiful countryside and some travel photos that will have you checking your bank balance and readying your luggage. Today we are talking to Scott Hastie of his blog of the same name. Settle in, this is going to be interesting.





Sherry: Scott, it is so nice to be meeting with you. Tell us about the village and country you call home, what you love about living there, and with whom you share your life.



Scott: I am very fortunate to live in a charming old village called Kings Langley, set in the beautiful Hertfordshire countryside, which is still only a thirty minute commuter train ride from London.  This is the place I have long since called home and where I have very happily raised my family. 


Kings Langley Church
hertfordshire-geneology.co.uk

Kings Langley actually means ‘long meadow of the King’ and its proximity to London and also to Berkhamsted Castle, where William the Conqueror was actually offered the Crown of England by the defeated Saxon lords in 1066, meant the local area has a long and very rich history. The village church still famously holds the tomb of the very first Duke of York and the entire country was run from the Royal Palace in Kings Langley at the time of the Black Death, which during the 14th century Plantagenet period  actually had a friary church recorded at the time as greater in size and splendor than Westminster Abbey itself!! 


Church Lane before 1909
Hertfordshire-geneology.co.uk

Sadly all the old royal buildings were razed to the ground by Henry V111 during the Dissolution of the Monasteries - but of course all the atmosphere and old spirits remain! No wonder then that my career as a published writer began with history books….

Sherry: How incredible! You are walking in the footsteps of history. Where did you grow up?

Scott: I was born in Edinburgh – so I am truly a Scott from Scotland! Though never had a chance to acquire the delicious accent, as we moved away when I was only two years old. My family gradually gravitated south, first to Yorkshire, as my father gathered company promotions – working for Kodak all his life… Which is why we ended up eventually in this part of the world – because the head office for Eastman Kodak was then, of course, in London.

Sherry: You landed fortuitously, I think.  When did you first fall in love with poetry?

Scott: My passion for poetry was ignited by schoolboy studies of the great English Romantic poets, in particular – Wordsworth, Keats & for me Coleridge in particular. The work of William Blake and some of the truly great French poets – Rimbaud and Baudelaire were also other key early influences.

I then began writing my own poetry in earnest at college, where I was studying to be a librarian and where I was also then editor of the student magazine for Brighton Polytechnic and Sussex University. Quite quickly I became one of many quite active, but relatively obscure young small press poets - though my work always seemed to sell well and was, at the time, unusual for always being published profitably. Thereby becoming a useful second income supporting the life of a chartered librarian.

Sherry: That’s impressive, Scott. Was there someone back then you feel was a significant influence on your becoming a poet?

Scott: Going back to my youth, my first key influence, as a writer was an idealistic young teacher called Robert Peel, who was my A level  tutor of French Literature at Secondary School. He was the first to open my eyes as to what might be possible and believed in me. Consequently, I am forever in his debt…

Sherry: We owe a lot to those who first encouraged our writing. What does poetry mean to you?

Scott: I have always been a spiritual seeker. At the core of my creative effort is an attempt to present and illuminate a runway ahead and hope it resonates in others. I believe a poem should speak entirely for itself. Perhaps more so than any other art form, surely this has to be truest for poetry – whose principal aim is to distil an experience or insight down to the absolute essence? To my mind the voice of the piece should therefore always be much stronger and clearer than any artist’s commentary or critic’s voice could ever provide…

I regard the over-arching theme of my work to be a personal investigation into the positive potential of the human spirit.



"The focus here is to share light and hope -
creatively and spiritually,
to seize and celebrate the extraordinary opportunity
of being alive."

Sherry: Well said, Scott. Tell us about your writing process.



Scott: I am fortunate to have a smallish study all to myself, up in the loft at the top of my house, which looks out over open fields and a tree-lined skyline. Here I have quiet, cocooned space overlooking the English countryside (almost in the clouds…) and everything I need.

For me, as a full-time writer, a fairly rigorous, almost monastic daily routine is very important, and underpins all my efforts. Not just in creating an exterior environment that is conducive to a concentrated and undisturbed focus on my craft – but one that also allows important preparatory time of an almost religious nature – given the spiritual themes that run through my work.




Sherry: I am green with envy over your loft - and your view!!! 


Scott: The story of the house and the loft study is an interesting one in itself... The truth is I was dragged here, grumblingly disinterested and reluctant, one weekend some 25 years ago now - because from the frontage there was nothing special about the house to entice you in and the interiors were very fusty and outdated - However, as soon as I walked out what was then the back kitchen door, and saw the view, I immediately turned smiling to my wife and said this is where we are going to live! And we will do the deal today... As for my study, we subsequently had this built in the loft, originally as an exciting space for my eldest teenage daughter to have her own study bedroom - which of course Daddy was able to eventually acquire for himself, when she flew the nest... Which was certainly a great result!



Sherry: I can certainly see why you would want to live there. It is gloriously beautiful, as far as the eye can see! What forms do you favor most, Scott?

Scott: I indeed write mainly what is often described as ‘free’ or ‘blank’ verse. Writing that’s not (being a child of the glorious seventies!) also without some ‘concrete’ influences – from Scottish  luminaries like  Ian Hamilton Finlay and Edwin Morgan … However, lyrical flow and emphasis are always essential to my work,  and I am not averse (excuse the pun!) to using rhyme or slipping into conventional structures, whenever they feel right. Sometimes I even find myself writing haikus, mid poem, without even being conscious I’m doing it!

Poetry is the purest of all art forms. Within that, we know all too well how the term ‘blank verse’ can be used in a pejorative way – whereas ‘free verse’ self-evidently cannot. So a poet writing free verse is what I proudly claim to be.

Sherry: I think it is time to insert a sample of your poetry, Scott. I really admire this one:

Age gathers, colludes.
Cadences fade fitfully,
Seemingly long before their time.
But there are echoes still,
Shapes we inherit,
We inhabit, we bequeath.
A life however bravely spent,
Will always be jagged, incomplete,
Never far away
From being enveloped in darkness.
Some may say,
Especially those who’ve known joy in life,
That this is not right.
I tell you clearly they are wrong.
So, just as a dancer
Might spin for you an exact pirouette,
And release themselves in the perfect burst,
A lingering silhouette of energy,
Be content to love, to dazzle in the light,
If only for moments.....
And then be gone,
With gladness in your heart,
Before the creeping shadows
Claim too much of your sadness at leaving.

© Scott Hastie 2012. All rights reserved.

This is so beautiful, and thought-provoking. I often write on this theme, too. You seem to have fully embraced the blogosphere. Tell us a little about what this journey has been for you.

Scott: Social media is a pretty new departure for me and was, to be honest, something I was initially rather reluctant about. Having said this, I am glad I did. There is no doubt that the use of social media and involvement with writing groups has played a part here. Although my books have long since found their way to most countries – for me, as a writer, the key transformative effect here has been, for the first time, getting my work out much more effectively to a worldwide audience. So in summary, I am now a definite convert!

Sherry: Me, too! Let’s talk about your books, Scott.

Scott: Significant published collections of my poetry didn’t appear till I had a family of my own and was already in my thirties. This was largely on the back of commercial success in other genres – I was fortunate to author a series of illustrated history books. Following several earlier 'small press' anthologies, the first substantial collection of poetry, published in the UK, was Selected Poetry, followed by New Poetry


I also wrote Reunion, a fast-paced romantic thriller, which remains my only novel to date.
Nowadays, I write full-time, focusing as squarely as possible on poetry once more – with a brand new collection of my work Meditations recently published.



Meditations is a collection of new poems, with a closer focus on a spiritual perspective to life.

A more substantial collection of poems, Angel Voices,   is due to be released in September, with an advance order option already available on Amazon and, soon, on my website too... www.scotthastie.com





Sherry: We wish you well with it. You are very productive, Scott.  And you are impressive at marketing your work. Most poets hate that aspect of publishing. I stumbled by sheer accident on your wonderful Gallery of rather spectacular photographs. They indicate you have done considerable traveling in your life. Is there one place that stands out, that you would return to again and again?

Sunset in Africa
over the Kenyan Coast

Scott: Along with health & fitness - I am a keen runner & meditator! - travel has indeed become something of a passion for me these last few years, and I have been fortunate, as you can see on the photo gallery on the site, to have been to many amazing places round the world. But what I say to everyone who asks is, if you only  ever had one holiday choice in your life - then don't hesitate -  go to India for sure! It is unforgettable - so rich, so vibrant, so colourful, so fascinating, so intoxicating - totally unforgettable... And from a Western European/American perspective, the closest you'll get to visiting another planet, without leaving the earth, is what I always tell people.

Interior of Amber Fort,
Jaipur, India

As for photography - I do get some real satisfaction out of it - but don't claim any talent there - For me, even relatively inexpensive cameras are just so amazing these days - the truth is they do all the hard work and some of the amazing images I've captured are really down to the amazing places I've been lucky enough to go to... Simple as that - it's only a case of clicking at what is in front of you...  If only writing great poetry was that easy - Hey! Ho! But that's another story entirely...

Banteay Srei Temple
in Angkor, Cambodia

Sherry:  Wow, I could do a whole interview just enjoying your photos, and the wonderful places you have been. Do check out the Gallery, kids! This has been lovely, Scott. To wrap up, is there anything you would like to say to the members of Poets United?


Beachfront on the Great Ocean Road,
Victoria, Western Australia

Scott: Thanks so much Sherry for this. I have enjoyed this interview and very much appreciate the feature on Poets United – a site I found by accident, really, having frequented d’Verse for rather longer… Whilst not as busy, I have to say I find the quality and variety of work and committed writers here to be consistently high, as well as illuminating, and always try and find time for a monthly visit at least….

 Sherry: You re most welcome, Scott. I have enjoyed it as well. All the best with the release of Angel Voices.

Wasn't this a lovely visit, kids? The places Scott has seen! Wow. Do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!





24 comments:

  1. An amazing job done Sherry..reading this inerview has really been enriching Scott .....love all the wonderful photos you have shared here specially Banteay Srei Temple in cambodia...and...the last few lines of your poem will stay with me ....

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    1. That photo spoke to me especially, too, Sumana. I would so love to visit there!

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  2. Scott, a pleasure to have known you and your inspiring work. :)

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  3. Great Interview and another amazing introduction of a talented writer. Wonderful photographs indeed a 'treat' and a 'life bravely lived'.Thank you Sherry and Best wishes to Mr Scott.

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    1. I love that - "a life bravely lived". Cool, Anjum!

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  4. Thanks for this interview Sherry and Scott. Good to know you better,Scott.

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  5. Hi everyone, here in England tonight its about 8.00 p.m. here with the sun finally just sliding down beneath the tree line. Many thanks to Sherry for this wonderful feature and to you all for the warmth of your responses. I am so glad I stumbled upon the great community that is Poets United... Will be nipping in and out again this evening... Talk agai soon...

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    1. It is our pleasure, Scott. I could look at your photos all day - you have captured some amazing places. I echo what Bjorn says. I am very impressed with your dedication to your art.

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  6. Thank you Sherry ans Scott.. what a wonderful share. To read a new poem by Scott is always a treat.. and knowing you better gives so much.. being fairly new to poetry, and not knowing any other way than with social media it's so interesting to see and understand how a real author work...

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  7. Hi Bjorn, you are very kind - not so sure about being a 'real' author - I guess I have just be trying hard for a long time now... And I guess its only fair if that reaps some kind of harvest eventually... and puts some fruit on the trees (he says looking to sustain the metaphor somewhat...) But what you learn, especially with involvement in social media, is just how much fresh talent and inspiration there is out there internationally... Not least in someone like yourself - as you know, I find some of your shorter poetic vignettes to be real gems and superbly crafted with true depth, as I'm sure others in the Poets United community will attest to... So thanks again for what you do so generously too...

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  8. Hearing Scott talk of the UK makes me miss home, the history, the old buildings, the views . . . and family. I stumbled upon Scott's blog fairly recently and enjoy his poetry immensely. This was a great interview and I've enjoyed learning more about such a great poet. Wishing you every success with the new books Scott and thanks Sherry for being such a great host.

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  9. Thanks Kathryn, I appreciate and can empathise with all you are saying here and also glad that my work touches you - after all, that's all I can ever hope for... And yes, Sherry is amazing isn't she...

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  10. Thanks Sherry for this enriching interview. Through this interview, I came across Scott's blog and enjoyed his poetry immensely!! Thanks again.
    Great knowing you, Scott! Hearty Congratulations...

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  11. Morning all, the sun is now back up again, here in England - over what are misty Spring skies this morning. Great to know you enjoyed my site Panchali and I look forward to keeping in touch with you creatively. Thanks again to everyone for the generous attention you have paid me and my work - let's all have an inspired day...

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  12. Scott, really wonderful to get to know more about you and your life. An excellent interview, Sherry...you always find a way to bring out the mist interesting facets of a poet. Scott, interesting to read of your fascination with India. Good luck with your upcoming book as well...

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  13. Thanks Mary, once I've caught up with myself! I do hope to be sorting out the photos from my recent trip to Sri Lanka and will let you know... With Best wishes to you and thanks again also to you for all you do to make Poets United possible...

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  14. Such lovely people! It is always lovely to come in here and read the mutual support, encouragement and appreciation we poets have for one another. Makes my day which, here on the west coast of Canada , is also gray and cool-ish, but with blossoms and songbirds, all one can ask of life! Do you feel as inspired as I do today, kids? Race you to the first poem!!

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  15. What a great interview - Scott, I've really enjoyed every poem of yours I've read via Poets United. The spirituality in them always uplifts...and wow, what wonderful places you've traveled to! It was great learning more about you and your life as a poet.

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  16. Thanks Sherri, its been a real pleasure to be so welcomed...

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  17. A very interesting and enjoyable interview. Your home in England is lovely Scott and your poetry which is spiritual and peaceful reflects your environment and enriches the lives of your readers.

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  18. Thanks so much... Your encouragement is precious to me...

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  19. Sherry and Scott I really enjoyed this interview. Scott your poems always bring a feeling of tranquility and your photo's are beautiful. I wanted to thank you for sharing.

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  20. My pleasure Truedessa, glad it all means something to you... That's all I could ever hope for...

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  21. What a wonderful interview. Thanks Sherry and Scott. Scott, I love your poetry and have admired you from the first poem I read of yours.

    Pamela

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