I get up at 5.30am, sluice myself and have two Weetabix and some mint tea, before starting to write by 6am.
I read ‘Treasure Island’ for the first time at university. And I started to notice then how unresolved some things were. Later, I realised that Stevenson was interested in sequels, and I wondered whether he would have gone back to it had he lived longer.
I’m also a great believer in the dream life; that while we’re asleep, a deep subconscious connection is made about our profoundest fears, hopes, loves, losses, dreads and desires.
I shall try to write a poem that is about the moment but doesn’t betray things that are true to me as a poet.
I’m an early bird, partly because I like to have some quiet time and partly because by 9am emails begin arriving, the phone starts ringing and I have dragons to kill of one sort or another.
Those who say we should dismantle the role of Poet Laureate altogether, the trick they miss is that being called this thing, with the weight of tradition behind it, and with the association of the Royal family, does allow you to have conversations and to open doors, and wallets, for the good of poetry in a way that nothing else would allow.
I am a vigilant monarchist. I want to see things evolve. The direction the monarchy seems to be moving in – towards a more mainland-European model – is one I would feel sympathetic about.
But in a lot of ways my poems are very conventional, and it’s no big deal for me to write a poem in either free verse or strict form; modern poets can, and do, do both.
I wanted to reimagine the role, in a way that was respectful of its traditional responsibilities but made them part of a wider pattern of poetry about national incidents, events, preoccupations; and to spend a great deal of time going to schools trying to demystify poetry.
But I can’t and don’t ever want to write bell-yanking confetti-tossing hat-throwing poems.