This is Dai’s original bio, before he revised it:
Fry is a poet living on the south coast of England.
Originally from Swansea.
Wales was and still remains, a huge influence on everything.
Published in 4 issues of Black Bough Poetry, The Hellebore Press and Re-Side.
A regular contributor to #TopTweetTuesday
He spends most of his time honing his craft.
Fascinated by the Pagans of Albion, quantum physics and the synchronicity of the universe.
1. When and why did you start writing poetry?
I wrote my first poem two years ago, it was a strange and slightly uncomfortable experience. I picked up a pen and a notebook and wrote a poem – just like that. Although I read all the time, I didn’t often read poetry and certainly had no plans to write any.
Looking back it is less surprising….
After 40 years working in social care (mental health), there was a big gap in my life. For a long time I had been searching for a way to channel my thoughts and feelings, to speak about what was important. Above all I wanted to paint.
I spent a lot of money – well more than I could afford, on paints and brushes. The trouble was I couldn’t paint. I knew it all along. Even a kind, non-critical soul would turn away from my efforts.
But poetry is a wonderful medium. If you have the imagination and can hear the song, you can do what you want with it. So I started to paint with words – films and pictures, landscapes and emotions.
From the beginning I decided that the most important thing for me was to have my own voice, so I struggled on through, building on my mistakes and making my own way.
I have no problem with learning from others, but I worried that if this happened too early in the process I might lose my way. So for the first year I deliberately refrained from reading any poetry then, as my confidence grew, I started reading other poets’ work and everything opened up for me.
Finding Black Bough Poetry on Twitter was a milestone and I started to submit my work to them. Matt Smith (editor) was very helpful and encouraging. As a result my work was lifted to another level.
2. Who introduced you to poetry?
For a start school in the 60’s was very different from now. For me it was not a place of learning, but more like a boxing ring with no referee. Poetry, like other learning, was of the self service variety. My parents loved literature of all kinds. There was a large bookcase in the corner of our living room holding books of and books about poetry. War poets, political poets, classical poets, romantic poets, modern poets, angry poets and nonsense poets.
My two favourite books when I was very young were The Hunting of the Snark by Lewis Carol and Nonsense Poems by Edward Lear. My Dad read them to me late at night (7pm!), I lay in the shadows just out of the light. The combination of beautiful illustrations and the funny but scary poems has never left me. The power of poetry to transport you to other lands holds equally well for the the very young and the old.
3. How aware are and were you of the dominating presence of older poets traditional and contemporary?
As an older poet only recently taken to the writing scene, I am very struck by the turbulence and excitment washing through the online poetry community. All types of writers – young and old, angry and calm, complex and basic, exist and interact together.
Like the music scene in the 60s and 70s convention is being ignored and writers are expressing themselves through a variety of experimental poetry. Now we can see the personalities and differing approaches that form the basis of a lot of modern writing. Some poets are experienced, published and confident while others tentatively post their early efforts. The ability to self publish, enter competitions and send poems to an ever growing resource of online magazines means that communities coalesce around different publications and forums each with their own cultures, rules and mores.
I would hazard a guess that mainstream poets who are published and recognised by a wider society still have a heavy presence, but I believe that this is in decline with smaller ‘zines are having an enormous influence. The internet and its influencers mean that people who would have been pursuing more solitary paths are now more dominant and their influence the greater for it. Rules are being routinely broken, and conventions ignored.
What appears to be far more persuasive are issues pertaining to sexual rights, mental health and other groups who have been traditionally disadvantaged in society. We now live in such interesting times where individuals can join with like minded groups and publish their thoughts and ideas as poetry, photography, prose and art where otheir very presence is a statement of who and what they are.
So, in answer to your question, I believe that the former influence of older more established poets is in slow but definite decline.
4. What is your daily writing routine?
Having spent many decades as a manager in an extremely fraught and pressured working environment, I have completely abandoned any hint of routine. In this aspect I am now a free spirit and writing poetry is part and parcel of this new freedom. I capture ideas or odd lines from wherever they present. I then desperately try to remember them until I can write myself a note. After that when I have a free moment I will start to sketch out a story line. Depending on the subject I may do some research and that adds to my notes.
I work the rough poem until it has some shape and I can see where it is taking me. Poetry has a life of it’s own and goes where it will. I rarely end up with the poetry I was expecting and sometimes I get very unexpected results. Music and place always add to the mix. Myth and story are also great influencers. There are times when the flow is right and the process is quick and relatively easy. Other times every word has to struggle out. I find that however finished the work is, it always has to cook for hours or days. Sometimes for weeks. Then the edits become more obvious to my thinking and my writing process. If I read an old poem I always end up revising it. I spend a lot of time thinking and writing. If I am caught up in a strong poem, I can spend hours working on it. So no routine but a very recognisable process.
5. What subjects motivate you to write?
I am especially drawn to the eternal mysteries of time and space, origins and the nature of all sentient beings. I have written a lot about our pagan times. This is because I sense a closeness to the land and its seasons, which most of us have now lost.
What fascinates me is that we have an imperfect history covering the last 5 thousand years or so, but modern humans have been here for over 250,000 years. So if you think that the Neolithic farmers were ancient then you’re barely scratching the surface.
All that time a tiny population of humans travelled the world, vulnerable to disease and predation. Living through the extremes of heat and ice they prospered and endured. And they settled in such diverse habitats, adapting and crafting their myths and legends.
Poetry is a vehicle that will carry the deepest or most mundane of thoughts onto the page. The smell of rain on dry grass, a few bars of music or the edge of a passing conversation. A TV programme or the news.
So I say, write about everything, explore your emotions and in the process try to seek an inner peace.
We live amidst mysteries that would break us apart, if we just began to suspect a fraction of the truth that’s out there.
I am coming to the conclusion that the universe itself is probably sentient.
So if you don’t yet understand trees or the other creatures that we share this planet with, then the stars will have to wait.
This was the final question he answered. In a later DM to me on Twitter he told me:
|BTW The interview isn’t dead in the water. I’ve been having a serious struggle with not believing in my work and so it follows that I have little of relevance to say. I’m getting over that now and would like to continue if that is ok with you. Sorry this was always a self confidence thing Dai|
We never did continue, to my ever present shame.
A Message From Margaret Royall
how very sad to hear of Dai’s passing. A great loss to the poetry world. I have always admired his imaginative writing so much. At least his book Photon Crowns has been published recently – that is a wonderful legacy. I send my condolences to his family, friends and to those in the poetry community who knew him well in person better than me. His brilliant words will be greatly missed!
Sincerely, Margaret Royall
Here is a link to Part One: “My pen is my brush” Tribute to the late Dai Fry. Part One of Three. This covers his contributions to the May 2020 Ekphrastic, most have his audio, too. I often feel that the mark of a great ekphrastic writer is that their piece holds up even without the artwork. There is a moving tribute to him by Ankh Spice at the end of this post. | The Wombwell Rainbow