What are the pleasures and difficulties of writing about your own family?

I suppose I have written about my family quite a lot and I'm sort of tempted to say that - a bit like Everest - because they're there! They're very immediate - they are people I probably know best so when it comes to writing a poem they quite often, you know, present interesting stories, interesting narratives with lots of sort of faceted edges. As to the pitfalls and the pleasures I suppose those are some of the pleasures in that you're writing about people you know intimately so hopefully the poem can be very carefully nuanced. The pitfalls are I suppose that even when you're writing about people who really exist, truth in poetry is a very slippery concept. And I'm a firm...I've always believed that sort of my duty as a poet is to be true to the motivation of the poem and to be true to the motivation of a poem you might actually change factual truths around - you might change dates, you might put someone somewhere else geographically. But it's important that you're being true to the essence of the work - so I suppose if you're a member of my family you might read a poem and think well that isn't quite how it happened but hopefully, I would hope that my family would understand why that is the case. I mean obviously there are still some things about my family I might want to write that I don't because you do have to be sensitive to people around you but I think there are a lot more pleasures than pitfalls - for me anyway. I guess you'd have to ask my family if that was the same for them!


Video botr