How autobiographical are your poems?

There's a strange and complicated relationship in my poems between autobiography and fiction. Sometimes the two get so confused, so fused, that I can't even quite remember where one ends and the other begins. One of the things that I do quite often in a poem is to take a real experience but give it a twist, so that it no longer quite happens in this world that we really occupy, but in a world rather like this but slightly different. So the edges, the boundaries between what is true and what is invented are not always absolutely clear cut. I think when I am drawing on real life experience I'm very aware that I've got to alchemise it in some way, transform it, so that it's going to become universal, or something that can be understood and that means something to other people who might read the poems. Otherwise, if you don't do that, then the stuff of the poem remains essentially private and inaccessible to other people.


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