Martin Figura was, and still is, a poet of great wit and humour but beneath the laughter lay memories of a troubled childhood and a dark secret that very few people knew until he started to write about it.
On this episode Martin talks about how writing about the death of his mother at the hands of his father was the beginning of a journey that changed him as a writer. The result was some of his strongest work in the acclaimed collection and show Whistle.
During a wide ranging discussion covering art, literature, photography and social history, Martin explains how he approached writing about this tragic episode using metaphor to reflect feelings and personal experiences.
Martin’s writing exercise: Think of an event that you’ve found too challenging to write about, or have simply not successfully written from. Come up with an abstract noun for the emotion the event evokes in you, such as blame, shame, anger, joy etc. Then make it concrete, a thing or creature or person and write about it, using some detail from your event.
On the podcast Martin reads the poem Sloth by Stephen Dobyns which is based on this technique and Patrick responds with a poem which uses flamingos to talk about feelings of isolation and struggling to fit in.
Please send responses via email, post in the comments section below or share on social media with the hashtag #poetrynonstop.
Further information from today’s episode:
Dead Dad by Ron Mueck
In Their Own Words: Contemporary Poets on their Poetry – including an essay by Martin Figura