BBC Arts Extra: 13 Jan 2011

Paul is interviewed by Marie-Louise Muir: they discuss his writing and inspiration, and he reads two poems from Latch.


Ulster Tatler Book Of The Month: July 2011

Books Ireland: Feb 2011

Belfast Telegraph Weekend Magazine: 1 Jan 2011

Verbal Magazine No 34: Dec 2010

Gloucester Citizen: 7 Dec 2010

Lagan Press: Nov 2010


Belfast Telegraph
Weekend Magazine

1 January 2011

Two years ago Paul Jeffcutt left his job to devote his time to writing poetry. Originally from the English/Welsh border area, he now lives among the rolling hills of the Bronte country just outside Banbridge. He has just published his debut collection Latch.

• Do weekends find you at the coalface or drawbridge up?

Both. The rigidities of office life are behind me: I write in bursts of concentration and activity, whatever day it is.

• If you can, do you grab a lie-in?

Not that often. I work in an organic way and my mind tends to be pretty active in the mornings.

• What do you remember about weekends as a child?

Roaming across fields and through woods, learning about plants and animals. My guide was Mr Price, a retired farm labourer who lived in a cottage nearby. Before the age of five I knew how to select wild plants to eat, kill a chicken and had tried cider. He was also the local grave-digger. School was pretty dull after that. We moved a couple of years later. Around a decade ago I returned to look for his grave but found he was in an unmarked plot because the family were too poor to afford anything more. I arranged for a suitable stone to be placed at his grave: it was the least I could do for him.

• If you could do anything you wanted this weekend, what would it be?

I'd go to Wadi Rum (in Jordan), scramble to the summit of a mountain, drink mint tea, watch the sun go down over the red desert, eat mensaf beside the camp-fire and sleep soundly beneath the stars in a Bedouin tent. And then it's not far to Petra...

• If you could buy anything at all this weekend, what would it be?

A Lear jet and a camel to take me to Wadi Rum.

• At weekends do you eat out or rustle up something yourself?

I can cook a pretty mean curry. Living in Birmingham, Manchester, San Francisco, Glasgow and Brisbane with their huge range of ethnic restaurants gave me plenty of tastes to try and emulate. I love to try foods from different cultures, it's one of the great pleasures of travelling. Alternatively there's the excellent Bronte Steakhouse nearby.

• A night at the flicks or a DVD?

It's got to be the QFT, there's nothing like being immersed in the big screen of a picture house. Even better if it's combined with tea and cakes at Cafe Renoir. I'm often at the QFT: the films I've enjoyed most this year would be 'Lourdes' and 'A Serious Man'.

• If you have time to read a book this weekend, what will it be?

After many years of having to plod though endless piles of dreary reports, I'm catching up on reading for pleasure. I certainly read plenty of poetry. The novel I've enjoyed most this year is 'What is the What' by Valentino Achak Deng and Dave Eggers. I'm reading '2666' by Roberto Bolano at present.

• Do you switch off your mobile and log out of your emails?

No: but I do restrict myself to shortish slots.

• Sunday morning - do you go to church?

I'm spiritual but not religious. I don't feel the need to go to a church.

• Your perfect Sunday?

A bright morning and a good walk along the beach at Murlough to the nature reserve. The peaks of the Mournes rising from the sea, the lighthouse at St John's Point on the horizon and lungfuls of the freshest air. Pause at the seal colony, their inquisitive dog-like heads bobbing to the surface, and on through dunes and heathland to Dundrum. A tasty meal at the Mourne Seafood Bar and a large cone of Graham's vanilla ice-cream (the best kept secret of Rathfriland), all finished off with an intimate live concert at the Bronte Music Club in Drumballyroney.

• Do you start to get depressed at the thought of the week ahead?

Not any more. I'm glad to have left the education factory.