Raymond Carver

Raymond Carver was interviewed in Edinburgh by Kasia Boddy in June of last year.

When I came to the writing of these poems I hadn’t written any for about two years. I’d been writing stories, and I didn’t know if I’d ever write any more poems. I felt writing poetry might have passed out of my life. I lamented that, but it didn’t seem as if there was anything I could consciously do about it. Then I went from Syracuse, New York out to Washington State, with the intention of writing fiction. In the house in Washington, after I had sat still for about a week, not writing at all, I wrote a poem one night. And the next morning I got up and wrote another poem, and before the day was over I had three poems. And I kept writing like this for, I think, 65 days. And I had a book – a full book. I had about a hundred and twenty poems – more than enough for a book. I quit writing then and went with Tess on a trip to South America. Then about three months later, back home again, I started writing poems once more. I wrote the rest of the poems that make up the book. In the space of about eighteen months – it was an extraordinary time – I wrote two hundred and fifty to three hundred poems. I’ve never had a time quite like it in my life. When I was writing these poems I was entirely happy. I could have died then, and I would have died happy. Then, for whatever reason, I stopped writing poems and went back to writing stories, and it is likely I have enough stories now for a new book. But I’ve started writing poems again recently! It’s a good time in my life right now. I’m writing stories, and I’m writing poems. When I began writing stories again, all the poems that are in this book seemed like nothing less than a great gift to me. It is a mystery to me now where they came from. But I began as a poet. My first publication was a poem. So I suppose on my tombstone I’d be very pleased if they put ‘poet gad short-story writer – and occasional essayist’. In that order.’

No Tricks: Raymond Carver

Frank Kermode, 19 October 2000

Raymond Carver was much taken with the idea that every writer creates a distinctive world: ‘Every great or even very good writer makes the world over according to his own specifications...

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Why the birthday party didn’t happen

Michael Wood, 10 March 1994

Robert Altman’s Short Cuts is a long, loose-looking movie, but the looseness is an effect, carefully worked for. Plenty of themes recur throughout – insecurity, chance, rage, damage,...

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What the doctor said

Edna Longley, 22 March 1990

Most books offered as poetry never leave the condition of prose – which is not to say they are good prose. But when a prose voice enters poetry, it can clear and freshen the air. Beside...

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Less and More

Adam Begley, 15 September 1988

Raymond Carver, acclaimed shot-story writer and poet, died on 2 August. A painstaking craftsman, he wrote most often about working-class Americans whose lives are, or have been, on the verge of...

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Dirty Realist

Michael Foley, 2 May 1985

Raymond Carver is a typically American hero, a kind of literary Rocky – janitor, delivery man, sawmill operator, servicestation attendant, an uneducated alcoholic no-hoper who rises to...

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Other Things

J.I.M. Stewart, 2 February 1984

An inexpert but frequently impressive first novel, Soor Hearts is set in Shetland in the early years of this century. Magnus Doull, having sailed before the mast for ten years, returns to the...

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