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It must seem that Paragram has been very quiet in the few weeks since we announced our Chapbook Challenge winner and Spotlights poets… but nothing could be further from the truth.

It’s final proof time – arguably the busiest time in the Paragram year. This is when the successful poets get to see their creations on the page and we at Paragram have to make sure that everything is as close to perfect as humanly possible.

Every task must be treated with care, patience and an eagle eye, to ensure the Paragram anthology ‘Spotlights’ is a volume which will make both Paragram and the contributing poets proud.

Apart from this buzz of activity, one of the very pleasant elements of running a competition, is that Paragram gets to spend time with some excellent writers and thoroughly nice people. Peter Taylor, the winner of the Paragram Chapbook Challenge meets both these criteria, and he met us for a coffee and informal chat.

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AN INTERVIEW WITH THE PRIZE-WINNING POET, PETER TAYLOR

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We met Peter at the RHS gardens at Wisley one late summer afternoon and spent a relaxed couple of hours just talking poetry. Our focus was of course Peter’s own poetry… it is one of our great joys to be able to get to know our Paragram winners and contributors.

Peter is a warm and interesting man and his route into poetry has been an unusual and very personal one.  It was interesting to understand a little more about why he writes and here are some of the things Peter shared with us.

Peter started writing three and a half years ago, approximately a year after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s

Why poetry?
In poetry I find the ability to write something within a week. There is a simplicity to the form – it can be 10 lines or 50 lines and can end there. It is a quick form of expression and basic ideas and concepts come through in first draft.

Of my poems that I have shared, ‘Grace’ is often people’s favourite; it was the second poem I wrote.  I think people can identify with being touched by a special person, often at a formative part of your life.

Would your 18 year old self know your 60 year old self?
Yes, I think the same person is there, along with the experience of time.

Who are you writing about?
My characters come from family, friends; people I have known, if sometimes embellished.

Have you studied poetry?
No, I studied to ‘O’ level English Literature only; but I did study Latin to ‘A’ Level and think this helps with form.

Do you find a need to study poetry or write instinctively?
Instinctively, I have no wish to study, I just want to write the things that have been waiting there.

What is your profession?
I am a lawyer at The National Theatre in London. I work mainly with intellectual property and contract law. As a lawyer, the most important thing is ‘to get the language right’. A friend told me that even though I haven’t studied literature to a high level I get from and metre from studying Latin and French.

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Peter Taylor’s winning submission of 5 poems to the Paragram Chapbook Challenge, along with more sound bites from the poet himself are featured in the ‘Spotlights’ anthology and his chapbook, entitled ‘Perspectives from an Open Heart’ showcases the full collection.

Both these books will be published by and available from Paragram Press late in November 2015

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