Fiona Inglis grew up in the North and South of Scotland, although she firmly considers herself Glaswegian. She has a B.A. (Honours) in English, Journalism, and Creative Writing from the University of Strathclyde, and her work has since been published nationally and internationally, nominated for The Pushcart Prize, and her poetry short-listed for the Bridport Prize. Her poem “A Distance” is featured in the Spring 2017 Premium Edition of Carve. Preorder or subscribe by Sunday, April 2, for special savings and discounts.
The article "A" in the poem's title seems like a very purposeful choice. Can you explain your reasoning or hopes behind this title?
When I started writing this poem, it was around the time I had embarked on a long distance relationship for the first time. As the relationship developed, I was surprised at how I found the “big” losses that come from this type of relationship — such as lack of contact (physical or otherwise) or having very different social groups — a lot easier to bear than missing all those little snatches of daily life that really establish a closeness. So I suppose I wanted the definite “A” to represent all the little personal distances that inevitably occur as a product of being physically apart.
I love the tiny scope of the poem's narrative, how the one scene hints toward a much larger story. How did the narrative and the other aspects of the poem develop in its different drafts?
To be honest, this poem has only gone through two real drafts.
I had the image of the couple sitting, looking into the wardrobe for a long time but just didn’t know what to do with it. Initially, I thought it could be the opening scene of a short story but decided that the significance of the image might have gotten lost in a longer piece.
When I finally did start writing the poem, it was much tighter, more restricted, with a 3,3,2,3,3,2 line structure. But it felt like something was missing. After playing around with it for a while, I decided it might be interesting to have the lines weaving in and out, giving the pace momentum then break it, momentum then break it. Visually it also helps to reflect the nature of the subject.
Does "A Distance" capture your normal voice and style, or was it a departure in some way?
That’s a good question! I would say that it’s quite true to my normal style in the sense that I like to try to create a lot of vivid images when I write. I think strong, interesting imagery makes for some of the most engaging writing, be it a poem, essay, or song. I also like to keep the language fairly simple and the voice pretty direct.
But it’s funny, there must be something of a departure in this piece because I was always reluctant to send it out anywhere. There was always something about it in the back of my mind that I wasn’t quite confident about. In fact, I can say that — and this is going to sound so annoyingly jammy because this rarely happens! — Carve is the first place I sent the poem off to.
What is the one thing you love most about poetry?
The one thing I love most about poetry is its immediacy. When you read a poem that really resonates with you — be it content, voice, imagery — you can feel it instantly. That’s not to say that you get everything from the poem straightaway, but I love it when I read something that feels as if I’ve read it before because it strikes something in you and feels like it’s been written just for you.