Brett Evans lives and writes in Wales. His poems have appeared in magazines such as The Interpreter’s House, Poetry Wales and The Frogmore Papers. In 2012 he was runner-up in the Cardiff International Poetry Competition.
Hi Brett. Hope you’re well. Thanks for taking the time to chat. Firstly, congratulations on the publication of your debut pamphlet The Devil’s Tattoo last year with Indigo Dreams. For the uninitiated, how would you describe the collection and the themes it explores?
Thank you very much for inviting me. I warn you that I’m awful talking about my own work. The Devil’s Tattoo features many recurring themes in my poetry but, I hope, also holds together as a loose narrative : childhood, alcoholism, blues and jazz music, Wales, desire, unrequited love, an unfulfilled adulthood. Jesus, sounds a laugh a minute doesn’t it?
You are also a founder of Prole magazine which seems to be going from strength to strength. I read in an interview you did that you walked into it with little or no knowledge of the publishing business. With the benefit of hindsight, are there any things you wish you’d done differently?
I can honestly say that I don’t think so as the learning curve has been one hell of an experience, and experience is what teaches us and makes us the people we are. Also my co-editor Phil and myself have had so much fun and continue to do so – should Prole ever stop being fun then I doubt our commitment and dedication would be as great and we would be better walking away from it or handing the reins over to someone else.
Prole seems to have expanded its scope with the introduction of writing workshops, poetry competitions etc. I especially like the concept of the Caboodle series which gathers short poetry collections by half a dozen writers together in one volume. What inspired this format and do you have ambitions to publish more pamphlets and full-length collections in the future?
Thank you. Caboodle was a fun project to put together and we remain very grateful for all who submitted their work to be considered. What inspired it was likely enough pints of Guinness for one of us to come up with the idea; most Prole plans are drawn up at some bar or other. Mostly we like to print what we’d like to see available as readers ourselves.
The Caboodle launches in Sheffield and London were great fun but full credit for those must go to featured poets Kate Garrett, Karina Vidler, and Angela Croft for arranging the events and working so hard to promote them.
As for pamphlets and full-length collections, we have published a handful – pamphlets by Michael Crowley, Robert Nisbet, Sue Millard, and Wendy Pratt (her pamphlet Nan Hardwicke Turns into a Hare was favourably reviewed in the Times Literary Supplement). We have published a full collection by Wendy Pratt and the late Idris Caffrey too.
We may publish more at some point in the future. You can never tell with Prole, so best keep an eye on us.
What else does the rest of the year hold for you in the world of poetry? Are there any dates in the diary you are especially looking forward to or goals you have set yourself?
I recently met up with my co-editor Phil for a couple of days to discuss future plans for Prole – it is my main priority at the moment.
I’m also working towards a second pamphlet for myself with 2017 in mind – early days yet though.
Finally, can you tell us a little about the poem you’ve submitted to Poetry Spotlight?
As I said, I’m rubbish talking about my own work. This new poem may or may not be Sloth’s debut as a recurring character – I think I’d like to see him in more surreal situations.
Sloth is in a tree of his own;
two-thirds his weight lolls in his hairy gut.
He will only descend to shit and bury his turds,
easy prey for those who condescend, resenting
Sloth’s days of decadence where no muscle is flexed
or put to work – he knows the wages of sin
is what we all get paid. Not quite as somnolent
as they’d like, it occurs to Sloth he couldn’t give a toss
for slurs by those who cannot see the irony
in looking up to him, frustrated by his apathy,
green in their envy. And in his coat of algae,
time for a nap, Sloth suspects
he may merely have dreamt them.