Dave Lordan’s Interview with Karl Parkinson

You’re part of a group of new Irish writers that have come through the performance arena and who are more and more appearing in magazines and publishing first collections. How do you see yourself and your work in relation to Irish literatures of the past and present, and the current performance/live writing scene?

I do see myself as part of that new, egalitarian, transpersonal, punkish tribe of Irish writers and performers who are breaking through and creating a literature of Now. At the same time I see myself as uniquely placed in it as the working class, down-to-earth visionary, Prophetic poet of that scene. In relation to literature of the past, I’ve got a great respect for the work of writers like Joyce, Yeats, Beckett etc., and all the serious writers of today cannot help but be influenced by the great modernist writers like Joyce. Though I feel that my work has more in common with other types of writers.
Tell us more about who those writers are that you feel more in common with and who have influenced your writing.

Well, coming from an Inner-City Ghetto background, I had to look more to American and French writers to find what could be termed street or city writing. People like Henry Miller, Bukowski, Miguel Pinero, Gil Scot Heron,The Beats, Celine, Genet. These were writers who spoke about, drugs, sex, violence, drinking, poverty, crime. Then there was the other side, what I would call ‘Spiritual,’ ‘Visionary,’ ‘Prophetic,’ ’Revolutionary.’ The best example of this is William Blake. Others:  Whitman, Shelley, The Beats, Rimbaud, Renaldo Arenas. And of course hip-hop/rap, spoken word that came up from the city streets of the black/Hispanic slum culture of America and took over world culture.me at March hare
You are unusual as you became a writer in the traditional, autodidactical way, rather than through today’s more common curriculum/workshop based way.

Yes, my learning came through a love of literature and music, and from an urging to write that seemed to come simultaneously from within myself and from something/where outside or larger than oneself. So I followed that love, that passion, and through a voracious appetite for reading, listening, seeing, experiencing, I’ve become who I now am.
You mentioned drugs earlier and you have written about them, can you tell us your opinions on drugs and creativity, drugs and culture? Are drugs freeing or controlling?

I decided to write a lot about drugs as I felt that it was barely touched on by Irish writers and that I was in a better position than most to do so. Of course the big state sponsored and culturally approved and in-fact encouraged drug, alcohol, has been written on extensively. My take on drugs these days is that in the main they are a mass controlling mechanism of the sickness machine. You can of course have wonderfully freeing, enlightening and spiritual experiences on them and when used in a ritualistic, sacramental way they can be beneficial to the individual, for creativity, and for mass culture, though I would stress that Cocaine, Heroin, sleepers and the like have no benefits at all, and are soul rotting shite. If you’re getting stoned/drunk every day or wasted every weekend, you’re been a fool to yourself and others, you’re lost in fear, you’re another causality of control. Personally I’m currently of the Straight Edge philosophy (but would be open to the possibility of celebratory intake, some time, ya never know!) and feel that being wide awake and clean and sober is perhaps the most revolutionary act you can take today.
Your debut collection of poetry is coming out soon, tell us a bit about that.

It’s called Litany Of The City and Other Poems and will be published by Wurm Press. I’ve been working towards it for the last few years and I’m looking forward to it and much of the themes, subjects and influences we spoke of today are contained in it.

Karl Parkinson

Karl Parkinson‘s work has been published in many magazines and journals, including The Stinging Fly. His chapbook A Sacrament Of Song was published in 2010 by Wurm Press and his first collection, Litany Of The City and Other Poems, will be out soon from Wurm Press. He has performed in the Nuyorican Poets Cafe in New York City and in 2012 he performed at The March Hare Festival in Newfoundland, Canada. He won the Balcony TV award for the most entertaining video of the year in 2009.

Karl Parkinson's website »