Literary Shelf

In Conversation with Nathalie Buckland

About Nathalie Buckland:

Nathalie Buckland was born in Wales, UK. Her one grandfather was patron of all-time great W.B. Yeats. She shifted to Australia in 1969. Nimbin (NSW) and its vibrant community is her source of inspiration for poetry. Her poems have appeared in many esteemed journals and magazines in different shores. She has been anthologised widely. Recently her poems featured in “Poetic Connections: Poems from Australia and India” centrally edited by Tamaso Lonsdale. Nathalie’s poems  engage a thinking mind. Her poems  are  a testimony of the poet’s astute mastery of the poetic self with a rich feast of varied themes and sweet cadence.
J.S.: Hello! When did you start writing poems in English?

I was about eight years old when I started writing poetry, However the earliest poems I still have, in my child’s writing, are from when I was twelve.

J.S.: Your grandfather was the patron of great W.B.Yeats. Did that connection help you?

It should have done, but in fact I was unaware of the connection when I first started reading Yeats. My paternal grandfather died before I was born. No one talked about poetry or poets at home, although there were books everywhere and I read indiscriminately – children’s and adults’ books, poetry, plays, but all quite old and bought by and for previous generations – plenty of Shakespeare!

J.S.: Did you read Yeats’ poems? When?

I read Yeats’ poetry at school, and then later during my tertiary education. It was just by chance that I mentioned him at home, and was told that my father had known him. Yeats used to stay at their home, Markree Castle in County Sligo, as a guest of my grandfather Bryan Cooper. Yeats liked to walk in the garden and read his poems to my attractive young aunt. Dad and his brother used to tease their sister, and amuse themselves by leaping out at her and the poet from behind bushes when he was in the midst of declaiming a new composition. Despite this, Yeats and his family much enjoyed staying with the Coopers and were regular visitors.

J.S.: Yeats studied poetry in his youth and from an early age was fascinated by both Irish legends and the occult which are very important scholarship on him. Did you follow his footprints?
I grew up in Wales not Ireland, so was more conversant with Welsh legends. However neither they nor the occult have influenced my poetry.

J.S.: What according to you is a good poem?

A good poem draws me in through its language and rhythm, and shows me a different aspect of something.  I write haiku as well as longer poetry. Haiku has its own rhythm and use of language pared down to basics and is often about ‘finding the extraordinary in the ordinary’. This discipline has influenced my other poetry.

J.S.: Can there be a poem without a poet’s “imagination”?
There has to be a creative force in all good poetry. Often it comes from what we might describe as the poet’s imagination. I think emotion is important, whether passion, tenderness, anger, love.  Haiku can be an example of an apparent lack of imagination, as it is usually based on observations of the natural word.
J.S.: For all-time famous P.B. Shelley, "poets ... are not only the authors of language and of music, of the dance, and architecture, and statuary, and painting; they are the institutors of laws, and the founders of civil society..." Do you think it holds TRUTH even today when the world is a different place to live in?

I hope it is still so, but although there has been a resurgence of interest in poetry recently I believe it is still unusual for readers to choose this genre. Performance poetry however is popular, and perhaps this is the form which is more likely to have a social impact. Here in Nimbin there is a performance poetry night every month with an open mike setup, and enthusiastic audiences. We also have the Nimbin Performance Poetry Cup held here every August, with entrants coming from all over Australia. It is interesting to see young poets using ipads and tablets to read their poetry from, and inspiring to feel their passion.

J.S.: You migrated to Australia in the late 60’s. Did you read Australian poets in 1970’s? Are they different from the traditional British?

The only Australian poetry I initially found to read in the 1970s was bush poetry, with its rigid structures of rhyme and rhythm. I had read similar poetry in the UK, but my preferred poets were Gerard Manley Hopkins, DH Lawrence, and other writers of free verse. It was a while before I discovered some of our modern poets – Gwen Harwood, Dorothy Porter, Geoff Page and many more, similar to but not the same as modern British poets.

J.S.: Would you share with us your very act of writing/composing a poem?

During the 1970s and 80s I was raising four children, mostly on my own, and working as an early childhood teacher. Reading and writing poetry was low on my list of priorities. I composed poetry in my head but rarely wrote it down. More recently, with my children grown, the process became easier.  Now, usually a first line, a picture or an idea will come into my head and refuse to go away. The seed then grows: I write quickly, pencil on paper. Later if I think my writing is worth putting on the computer, I start the editing process. Every word has to count, its meaning, the balance of each  line, the vowel and consonant sounds.

J.S.: Can writing/composing poems be taught?

Certainly basic rhyme and rhythm structures can be taught. Free verse is more nebulous. I do think that those who have a drive to write poetry, and who persist with the genre, accepting appropriate criticism at times, will probably end up writing well. However it is my opinion that poets are born not made.

J.S.: Who are contemporary important voices from your part of Australia?

My personal favourites are John Bird, Quendryth Young, Max Ryan, Rob Harle and Christine Strelan.

J.S.: What is your image of India?

I have never been to India, though my great grandmother and my grandfather were both born there, and my brother lived there for a number of years. I think of it as exotic, diverse, and spiritual.

J.S.: Can a bilingual/multilingual be as strong in English as a monolingual who speaks only English?

How individual this is! Many monolingual people express themselves poorly, while I know numerous bilingual people who are immensely articulate in my language, and whom I greatly admire for this facility.

J.S.: You have travelled a lot; read and reviewed  poems from several sources. Do you think an Indian writer differently than  Keats, Yeats or Eliot?

Of course. We all write from a cultural basis peculiar to ourselves as individuals. I am so much enjoying the richness and diversity I find in the Indian poets’ work which I am currently reading.

J.S.: Some poets write about the modern consumer life. How do you react to this trend?

We all write about what moves and inspires us, or that about which we feel passionate. Modern consumer life is relevant; it touches us all.
J.S.: You depict your home of thoughts in a language that is understandable, soothingly global and lucid. Do you write for any particular audience in mind?

Basically I have always written for myself. The words seem to come to me through an urge which I suppose might be called inspiration. Often the poem that  eventuates is very personal. However I intend it to be accessible to the reader. It seems that now is a time to share what I write with anyone who wishes to read my poetry. 
J.S.: Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. I remain grateful to you! Wish you good luck for your upcoming book of poems. Never let the ink dry out in your pen!


More by :  Prof. Jaydeep Sarangi

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Views: 3323      Comments: 4

Comment Very interesting reading! Thank you.

14-Apr-2014 01:23 AM

Comment Congratulations ! Its great to see Dr Jaydeep sir bridging the continents .Thanks for enriching our knowledge through the conversation with the poets . It is nice to know about the great work of Nathalie Buckland . Interesting, engaging , informative and wonderful interview . Keep it up ! Best wishes !

Mohini Gurav
02-Aug-2013 23:10 PM

Comment An wonderful one.

02-Aug-2013 12:53 PM

Comment This is a wonderful interview, very interesting and thought provoking. Thank you.

Rob Harle
02-Aug-2013 00:14 AM

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