Friday Feature: Interview with Charlie Baylis

Each week, the editors of Jenny Magazine sit down with either fellow literary magazine editors or past Jenny contributors for short interviews. This week’s interview is with Charlie Baylis, a past contributor of Jenny Magazine.

Describe your first publication. Where was it, when, and what was the piece about? How old were you at the time and how did it feel?

The very first would have been my poem “Vodka kicks and teardrops” which was commended in a leaf short poetry competition and subsequently appeared in the competition anthology. I think I was 17, to me at the time, it felt disappointing because I felt I should have won! (That’s the way I was at 17!)

What inspired your pieces in the Jenny?

“A Life Continued in Dreams” was inspired by the Garcia Lorca poem it quotes from, which is one of his most famous poems, “Sleepwalk Ballad.” My poem is an attempt to move his poem on in time to the point where the man in the poem is old and he’s dreaming of his dead lover. It’s quite a sad poem. The title comes from the Italian poet Antonia Pozzi and in a sense I wanted to cast Antonia as the dead lover (she committed suicide at the age of 26).

What got you into writing?

Growing up I was really into music, but having no musical talent whatsoever I had to resort to poetry to express myself! If I could sing — I’m sure I’d be singing!

What do you like writing the most? Is there a certain style you prefer?

I just like writing full stop. I write a lot of very short stories (what some people would call flash fiction) for my blog, The Importance of Being Aloof. I write poetry whenever I feel inspired to write a poem — the feeling is a little different for a poem or a story, but they’re both hugely enjoyable (occasional frustrating) activities. I’d say my style is a romantic cake with surrealist icing.

What are your influences? Who are your favorite writers?

The danger of making lists off the top of my head is the names tend to fall out. I’d say H.D., Walt Whitman, T.S. Eliot, Tennyson, Louise Gluck, Lisa Jarnot, W.B. Yeats, Dylan Thomas, Derek Walcott, Annie Freud, Luke Kennard, Sam Rivere, August Klienzhaler, Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Appolinaire, Paul Eluard, Garcia Lorca, Neruda, Shakespeare, Keats, Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes, Allen Ginsberg. I hope they’ve all influenced me in some way.

What’s your proudest moment as an author?

That will be when my debut pamphlet comes out. It’s called Elizabeth and its on Agave Press. It may even be out by the time this interview is up. Please check it out — a lot of my heart went into it.

How has your writing developed over time?

I’d hope that it has got better!

Are you currently working on anything?

Now that my pamphlet is done, I’m taking a bit of a break from writing poems. But I am just about to start writing a review. I do critical writing for Stride and Neon magazines. It’s very helpful to think deeply about what works and what doesn’t for other poets. It helps define what you stand for as a writer, and what you do not.

What’s your writing process?

It really varies from poem to poem. Some poems I work on gradually, some poems I just scribble down in the blink of an eye. I typically will do a paper draft first and then type the poem up, but I don’t always. Stories are something I can just sit down and write, but for a poem I need to wait for the muse to smile. Muses are very important to my poetry — I gave them a thank you in the pamphlet!

What are you currently reading?

I just finished The Emperor by Ryszard Kapuscinski, which was masterful, and have just started Dostoyevsky’s Notes from the (allegedly the ‘the’ shouldn’t be there) Underground. In between these I read a very amusing book called How to Be a Public Author by Paul Ewen.

Have you ever co-written something with another author? If so, what was that experience like?

Sort of. One of my friends writes plays. (Her name is Healah Riazi — she’s really good.) What I did was I edited one of her short plays down into a poem by using the delete button. I don’t know if that really counts, but I’d describe it as fun. Anyway, I sent Healah the poem and she liked it.

Have you ever worked with a medium other than writing? Or collaborated with someone in another medium with your writing?

No, but I’d love to work as a medium with my writing. Let me gaze into my crystal ball….I see a bright future for the Jenny! I see a bright future for all who read this interview! I see a bright future for all who buy a copy of Elizabeth by Charlie Baylis!


Are you a past Jenny contributor or an editor at a literary magazine and interested in an interview? Send us an email.

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