top of page

For Randall's editor

Stephen Hornsby-Smith

R- Think wider readership! Don't see this as a form

S- There's noway I'm interested in form filling to explain my inner-thinking. I shuffle words right?

R- Mr Las Vegas will have to shuffle again then. Best not to get all form and no substance

S- Can I do the bad-boy play is tedious type of thing?

R- You're a slave to cliches

S- I never saw you as a routine slave either

R- Nothing Bohemian? or Suburban?

S- I can't remember

R- And I thought you were up to your neck in grime! What happened in Barcelona and San Francisco?

S- Piece of cake

R- Attitude shit?

S- Humiliation stakes already?

R- Just tell me about your formative years

S- Randall you're only 19!

R- 22!

S- It's a miracle! How did you grow up so fast?

R- And I expect to retire soon. As soon as this chore is over..

S- Chore? Well forgive me for saying but you asked for this interview not..

R- What music made it for you?

S- Final vinyl in those days...

R- What? You're a 'dinosaur' as well as a spelling non-literate? How do you say so much with so little?!

S- I liked the thrust and timing of Linton Kwesi Johnson, disillusioned with Bowie for 'Let's Dance especially after 'Rebel Rebel,I saw John Cooper Clarke rant in Leeds, I liked Stiff little fingers, The Jam, Lou Reed, Cocteau Twins, Sisters of Mercy etc

R- New wave stuff

S- Punk got to me late and stayed with me too long

R- Politics?

I eventually thought Anarchism was the least dangerous. Never going to work in a month of Sundays, but better unrealistic than corrupt, right?

R- I heard you had a mohawk once

S- Every body gets drunk right?

R- So what literature were you interested in then ?

S- People who weren't prophets or science meets poetry

R- Marx wasn't you?

S- Marx prophesized sharing the promise land by science? Pose politics pseudo intellectualism

R- I guess studying politics at Leeds Uni with the Left wing dominated department didn't make you very popular?

S- I did learn how to look into peoples' eyes and detect a euphemism and a platitude. All the skills you need to be a rebel.

R- I heard they almost kicked you out?

S- A rebel without a course!

R- So what happened to make you write?

S- Music ran out of lungs for me. I can't listen to broken heart, broken mind stuff, there's nothing in it to trade

R- What about love?

S- No. I guess I haven't enjoyed that number

R- Come on, I know you've fallen in love

S- You know more than me!

R- Religion? Any? or does Catholicism not get religious?

S- I'm a practicing Catholic

R- But before you joined Rome plc?

S- I'm told I had to learn about nature before I could get Christianity

R- But before that happened, did you have any spiritual convergence?

S- Nature in the UK is cultivated into the 4 distinct seasons - I liked the definition of them

R-What do you hide in your poetry?

S- I've been called a prop forward looking to bring everyone down in the scrum

R Do you find privacy in your writing?

S- Poetry is meant to make privacy a secret huddle between the lines of burying stuff you can't use anymore.

R- Is that your colour palette? Closure?

S- No. I think that nature has a logic to it.

R- Are you 'an angry ' bloke?

S- Anger just makes me angry.

R- Alright I asked for that. Your biggest disappointment?

S- Not being able to ask out Wendy Norman in primary school because I was too shy

R- Your biggest triumph?

S- This

R- Your most successful attribute?

S- Getting over Wendy Norman

R- What would you say to your teenage self today?

S- Don't talk to other teenagers! They talk shit too!

R- Is your poetry Abstract?

S- I've changed a few idioms, lost some grammar, vernacular, mood swings that are obvious some of the time, and worked on changes of pace etc

R- But is your work abstract?

S- Quite open and reliably not too slanted.

R- Do you like free verse?

S- Only when someone reads my stuff out load

R- Would you like someone to perform your 'stuff'?

S- I'm open to the idea; but I'm also closed to it.

R-How would you like to be remembered as a poet?

S- As a Painter of semi-abstract paintings that inform my poetry

R- Do you regret not being able to exhibit poetry as much as you can Paintings?

S- Different medium, different point at which you want to be spontaneous

R- Why privacy?

S- Why don't you get your readership to write stuff themselves?

R- Do you have great emotional range?

S- Don't put words into my mouth, i can handle the rest

R- What is artificial to you?

S- That consumerism hasn't figured -out that Art needs participation not just a tick in a box; Mondeo man does heresy and artifice at the same time and then feels good about himself!

R- Do you like tabloid papers?

S- What are they?

R- Rags on journalistic wheels

S- Definitely!

R- When do you finish a poem?

S- When i forget it

R- Have you learnt anything about life?

S- I hated school yet I became head-boy!

R- Do you have self-disgust?

S- Not with you.

R- Do you feel you're closed to new experiences because of the discipline of writing?

S- Ask me that when I'm dead

R- Are there more positives in life or the opposite?

S- I'm not running away am I?

R- Literary people run do they?

S- They are running out of excuses and running into themselves

R- Is it fair to say that you attack the senses by your Painting and assault the literary world by shifting the scenery?

S- Whereas some Collages of Art pour contempt on Painting, at least the University courses try to update puff poetry.

R- Are you more decorative in your Painting than in your poetry?

S- look, I've made no secret that modernism has been around for 160 years rather than a flash in the formalistic pan. I celebrate this. Why not? It's a bone fide Art movement that isn't a short foot race.

R- Matisse was decorative.

S- The dark side was Picasso in balance with the light of Matisse

R- How much is popular culture a muse for you?

S-I'm not a pop- culture quack

R- Does it intimidate you?

S- Hey my older nephews and nieces are now having to face an adult world without the insurance of being 'young'. So what does that tell me? Everything I need to know about the ephemeral.

R- I'm not so quack to judge

S- Smarts are still your forte then?

R- You mean 'How's that working for you Randall?'

S- What is ugly about my work? Does despair ever do despair? Good questions Randall. I've obviously underestimated you!

R- What has made you aware that some Artists overestimate their cultural significance?

S-This, but you already knew that right?

R-I don't even lecture myself about poetry so why should I listen to an old fart like you whose attempts to throw -off genuine self-narcissim by hiding behind the skirt of sarcasm and irony?

S- Go! sister go!

R-How does one peel away your layers in your poetry?

S- I believe that the public want more poetry and access to Painting in their lives today, and I agree with them. The dark side of both poetry and Painting isn't the subject matter, it is the dire extremes of formalism that now sag in the past. Strip that away and there is nothing but a whole new expanse of questions I want to ask. In poetry and Painting we don't just connect with pre-modernist renaissance we can connect with today. Modernistic poetry and Painting have got such a wide arc that I willingly dip into it, but without the formalistic police looking over my shoulder.

R- So you dip into this world that large areas of the Art world have just 'overlooked' , but you obviously haven't?

S- You know where all the bodies are buried but I know all the exits that prevent me from dying!

R-.. So you presumably 'personify' free thinking modernism?

S- So you are presumably the anti-modernistic 'free thinking sort or is it the anti-modernist non free thinking sort? Randall why should we shackled rather than empowered? Rules are only there if you want to break some, the rest is the discipline of being able to give a show your reasoning - now explanation is necessary.

R- I know you. You say you are'all out of hero-worship', but what is going on with all of this 'lump it or leave it stuff'?

S- Don't you have a friend called Matisse?

R- He wants to save seal pups from greedy poachers.

S- He also wants to drill for oil in the Antarctic?

R- I'm not so quick to judge as you are.

S- Why doesn't that surprise me?

R- What is ugly and what is despair to your work?

S- This

R- How does one peel away your layers in your poetry?

S- Because like painting the general public also feel that there is not enough poetry in their lives and I agree with them.

R- Pop or rock poetry?

S- What happens to the generations who aren't hip-hop?

R- I knew you'd do this!

S- Do what?

R- Hidden agendas that are coordinated by a one fits all counter-ideology

S- What does that even mean Randall?

R- All the innocence, all the idealism..

S- You talked up 'form' justifications

R- I also said more substance!

S- Aren't we both fighting the same thing, it's just that I've elaborated about it and then tied it together

R- You're just advertising your Painting agenda by your 'semi-abstract' poetry!

S- Sorry I stole your thunder

R- It's the poetry that matters!

S- Of all people you should not get hung-up on what I'm offering the general public

R- Your ego

S- No! I won't feel that self-reproach for joining up popular intelligence with a consistent cultural dialogue

R- You are opening up mediocrity its methods

S- I think everyone knows what happens next!

R- Smithie knows he can't fix the broken hoof because he's making ideas on the hoof!

S- No! The electricity of poets and Painters are doing it without any Artistic carbon footprint. Pass the baton of self-discovery to enlighten and give access to new trains of thought, a valuable testimony of technique without being its slave.

R- It's not the quality, it's the quantity

S- I'm not being a philanthropist of Art, I want to be a part of a new way to see modernism by self-transformation, today not yesteryear. Atonality doesn't interest me and neither do other much lauded 'game changers of which the pet project is post YBA's.

R- And it just so happens that you've got the controls in your intellectual pocket!

S- 'Love me, bite me or bark at me' should be the only rules of both Painting and poetry. Everything else is bullshit!

R- My Editor will be proud of your arrogance and delighted that you've incriminated yourself so explicitly

S- Your daughter is braver than you!

R- So your Painting attacks the senses, your Poetry is a mild slap in the face for academics, but your philosophical underpinning is as relevant as your attempts at sub-text in your poems.

S-That's flannel, window dressing and window shopping all in one

R- Get over yourself! S- Decoration is just another form of formlessness R-But my good friend Matisse puts his money and convictions where his mouth is! He's no armchair critic! S- How does ignorance and limited accountability get passed you? You're the sharpest instrument I know, yet you're overlooking something under your nose! Do you really think he's not using 'save the innocent pups' to get his feet under the table for when oil production over-rides his very cute cuddly 'pup' public benevolence? R- No doubt in your mind then? S- Doubt is the most powerful of allies, fairness lags somewhere behind the end of the queue. R- And you'd make sure he went the whole hog by drowning the pups by dirty cruel oil, just to prove a point! S- Since when did I become meat head spin doctor Dr death? R- When you decided to save the same 'pups' only to be trained for the military! S-I thought only those on the dole are good for nothing 'droll' meisters. R- Dole? What is the dole? S- Those who couldn't afford to work got the public purse to squeeze those who could afford to work, and now they are those who can't afford to work because they are in debt! R- All debt is theft? S- All dependent on'dole' have lost their potential. It is a theft of the future by the present! R- My mother used to say to us at night: 'Go to sleep or the bogey man from the unemployed will get you! S- Except for those who invent and me! Stop looking at me that way! R-You're not innovating, you're banging the same drum that Painter's reach when confronted with 'perhaps it's not all about the canvass'

S- Wrong question!

R-Right question!

S- I often think that these questions are best served with a cold slice of revenge, a pint and a bite!

R- Oh, the temptations of the literary flesh!

S- Jerks without a larger view of Art wanted to dispose of Painting and Poetry like some piece of 'Decay Art' as some Conceptual Art work to destroy publicly. Yeah some conceptual Artist thought that they'd put a ferret down the trousers of Art, document it and display it in a warehouse in downtown mogadisho

R- So what are you going to call this book of poetry? ' I'm using phonetics rather than plain old 'I can't spell'?

S- I'd have changed the subject too, but 'Save the last pen' or'ex pen hate now ,hug later!

R- You're kidding me?

S- Yes I am, as I am if I call it 'Having the last word'

R- Please!

S- 'Poetry in motion?'

R 'A pithful of dollars'

S- 'Where ever you read is my home'

R- 'Who'd Edit this?'

S- 'Calling Time out' , or time for the pub!

R- 'Beering down on you!'

S- Doesn't alcohol work in so many ways? Doesn't poetry move so many to so much for so little?

R- Swill the jug and puke -up on the rug! Guilt is so my favourite!

S- As long as you wipe it up first.

R- You mean the guilt?

S- Same thing! Same outcome!

R- Sack Bacchus now!

S- 'Words- who chose them and why?'

R- This is better than the poems themselves

S- That was deliberate

R- All concept Art and no Painting or poetry? Got a sideline here? A secret conceptual Art moonlighter?

S- Busted! And there was I thinking that the form police would appreciate a breaking up a log-jam of Art?

R- Leave the form police alone! But I'd pay good money to see those arseholes talking themselves into a stand-still! A bit like you!

S- Ok, I deserved that

R- Yes you did

S- Can I give you shit back?

R- No you can't

S- That's grounds for poetry

R- I'm barely into my first drink and you want me to perform the 'throw-up'!

S- 'Comic vomit!' R- I can see 'There's no drooling you!'

S- 'Write, and when to stop!'

R- You're your own worst failure

S- Master Yoda says: 'failure, greatest test but our greatest achievement it is'

R- The Code breaker says: ' Live free and don't join'

S- Vice Admiral you are relieved of your command

R- Fuck off Painter! Words fucking matter!!

S- Don't we have common ground here?

R- What is it with you hetero Brit poets? You talk big and yet you're just puff - pastry!

S- OK, I'll be open. Aside from my argument that covers what I do, there are two things that I hate about poetry:those who think clever crosswords and enigmatic puzzles are the true inheritors of poetry and lyricism for 'our' generation as well as the Pam Ayres brigade of bumpkinesque meets the cider full of mirth for the turf.

R- You can't cure poetry by killing of the geeks and the hay makers by yourself Stephen. You need a public open to your ideas!

S- I want to open-up the can of worms inside the head of Damian Hurst's Diamond skull, and I want to bounce on Tracy Emin's bed whilst making Art Collages advocate Painting as their pedagogical priority. I don't have a plan B, nothing up the sleeve, no get-out clause. I want people to start registering the confines of a canvas as a 21st century challenge and not an epitaph. When will Galleries open -up? Let quality freshen-up and inspire the diversity of techniques as well as engaging more than loyal supporters of a 'team' that always seems to being relegated

R- i appreciate that finally we have candour from you.

S- Art world? More like a casino!

R- And what if only the 'form' of your poetry hits the mark and not your selection and display inside a book cover?

S- I back myself

R- They'll eat you alive! Broken, bust, squandered and splattered! And that's just the people who like your stuff! Is that how you'd like to be remembered

S- If I expose the incestuous money grab as well as opening-up Modernist Art to future generations of enthusiasts, that'l be a bonus!

Save the remains for my coffin!

R- But what plot? What shall we write on your tombstone?

S- Randall! You can be a clever arsehole sometimes!!

R- Perhaps 'Stephen lies in tatters with his remains'!

S- Or 'I told you to fuck off and because you didn't I hope I fucked you up!

R- And the title of this book of poetry?

S- Esoteric and vague gets you everywhere

R- Do you feel that you 're moving techtonic plates or creating a singularity in your Poetry?!

S- I get it! Mr Inflate the bubble until it bursts, but leaves just debris of wasted effort and hollow dreams lost way past ones prime.

R- Can I suggest do a ' work- out' in an open mic?

S- Trite ain't right!

R- Quite!

S- Just another 'entertaining episode' under the floodlights of public decency and its disorder

R- A 'big bash'!

S- Every day and night, if only to spark a light!

R- Sparkey rides again, only you're hiding form in your splash of contentiousness

S- Let the court of public opinion decide

R- Have it your way- once again

S-Excuse me? So I'm not 'the one' who 'picks the lock of Babylon', or 'Holy Wars plc' , or never short of 'fighting demons from the underworld!'

R- Watch ,look see and cherish by candle -light!

S- I personalize both media of Poetry and Painting and that's complemented by me shuffling the pack. Re-wiring the brain? Come on!

R- Let me help you here: 'Your work doesn't re-wire the brain, it hopes to un-wire the brain'!

S- You are the warm jet stream coming to a fair maiden's aide!

R- Perhaps you do need your brain re-wiring?

S- That's the nicest thing you've said all day!

R- Don't get cocky kid!

bottom of page