Sleeping Through the Moon Landing by Duncan Chambers
4Word are over the moon (sorry – couldn’t resist 🙂 ) to announce the official launch of our latest pamphlet Sleeping Through the Moon Landing by Duncan Chambers. Duncan is the first of the poets to be published after our recent call-out for submissions. We were instantly intrigued by the title, then found that the poems contained within did not disappoint in any way.
Duncan was born and raised in Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, part of the ancient kingdom of Mercia. He was educated there and at the Universities of York and Sheffield, where he studied Biology and Information Science respectively. He now lives in York and is employed as a Research Fellow in Public Health at the University of Sheffield.
Here is what others say about Sleeping Through the Moon Landing.
“Duncan Chambers’ poems are tuned in to transience, to lost hours and to the potential of other lives. Again and again the poems size up the gap between words and experience, and find a way to put a name to the feelings and memories they map. Careful, precise, funny and moving, there is a (satisfyingly) bittersweet edge to their meditations on “all the bits and pieces of today – / [which] hang for a moment over a giant hole, / then vanish, while we tiptoe round the edge.”
– John McAuliffe
“With a cast list that includes Dan Dare, Action Man, Ian Botham, Socrates, Tonto and Wile E. Coyote, how immediately engaging these sure-footed, spring-loaded poems by Duncan Chambers are. He’s as lucid as Larkin, but more heartening, much better company.”
– Michael Laskey
“If you have not come across Duncan Chambers’ witty, moving, memorable work before, you are in for a treat. From the childhood poems with their affectionate, sometimes wry viewpoint, bringing to startling life a lost world of Dan Dare, moon landings and post-match flapjacks to poems about bachelors, the mysterious world of a mother’s friends, love, ageing parents and loss, the beauty of the poet’s language consistently transforms the everyday into something unique and beautiful. A stunning debut.”
– Carole Bromley
When did you begin writing?
I enjoyed creative writing at junior school but I started with the poetry in the early 1980s, perhaps as a reaction to studying a science subject (Biology) at university.
Are you mainly drawn to writing poetry or do you also write prose?
Mainly poetry but I like reading short stories and have written a few.
When and where were you first published?
I can’t honestly remember. After I’d been writing for a while I started sending poems to magazines and a few were accepted. One of the first was about dissecting a dogfish in school biology. It was in Envoi.
Can you describe your journey to publication?
It’s been a long one. I had a few poems in magazines as I mentioned, then in 1992 I got a pamphlet, Questions of Identity, published by Rotherham Arts Council under a scheme to encourage new writers. It wasn’t very well produced but I was proud of it and still have a couple of copies. Later I almost stopped writing for a while but I got a new impetus when I signed up for an evening course called ‘Poets on Form’ which involved writing sonnets, sestinas and indeed limericks. Since then I’ve been writing fairly steadily. A highlight was winning the Hamish Canham prize from the Poetry Society in 2018 (for ‘Chess at Baden-Baden, 1925’ which is in the pamphlet).
When and where do you write?
I try to keep an evening a week free for writing or at least thinking about writing. At the moment I’m living in a studio flat in Sheffield during the week. I chose to have no TV or broadband there to reduce distraction. Of course if an idea or a line occurs to me I’ll write it down whenever and wherever.
Can you tell us a little about your writing process?
I write the old-fashioned way in an A4 notebook using a black rollerball pen. Some pages are quite neat but most have lots of crossing out and arrows. If I haven’t got something on the go, I will use writing prompts or try to write something for a themed competition. I’m too old to wait around for the Muse to pay a visit.
Do you think your style has changed over time?
I hope I’ve learnt something about technique in all these years and can use a wider range of forms. But most of my poems have always been about people and human relationships rather than, say, responding to nature.
What writers influenced you and which poets do you continually go back to if any?
I must have been influenced by poets I came across at school (Hughes, Larkin, Plath), those who have emerged while I’ve been toiling away in obscurity (Duffy, Armitage) and some I discovered for myself (Muldoon, Bishop, Dante). But the individual poet I go back to most often is Seamus Heaney. I also go back to anthologies like the big Norton one and Shapcott and Sweeney’s wonderful Emergency Kit.
What are you reading now?
Zoology by Gillian Clarke (who does respond to nature) and The Perseverance by Raymond Antrobus.
What advice, if any, would you give to an aspiring poet?
Nothing that hasn’t been said many times before. Read as much poetry as you can, mainly but not exclusively modern and contemporary. Support your local library. If you can afford it join the Poetry Book Society for a regular supply of new work you might not have chosen yourself. When you feel ready there are plenty of sources of feedback and support: informal workshops, evening classes, Arvon. If you want to publish, be prepared for a lot of rejections. Don’t rush into print, but there’s no need to take as long about it as I have!
Sleeping Through the Moon Landing is an impressive collection and if you would like to order a copy please contact us at https://www.4word.org/contact/ (£5.99 plus p&p)