In this award-winning poetry book by the British woman poet, Zoe Brooks, three travellers meet a fool and his dog on the road to a great city. This mystical poetry book is at times playful but also profound.
Where begins the hard road?
the long road? The dark road?
Where begins the road of sharp stones
of bare feet of blood on the stones
and the grass like saw teeth.
Join the Fool and his companions on the road in their metaphysical journey to Hell and back.
With Fool’s Paradise Zoe has revived the tradition of poetry for voices, a form used by poets such as Yeats, T.S. Eliot and Dylan Thomas.
Fool’s Paradise won the title of best poetry book in the 2013 EPIC (The Electronic Publishing Industry Coalition) awards.
Interview with the Poet
What is the background to Fool’s Paradise?
I was inspired by a visit to Prague just after the Velvet Revolution. I went with my friend, Hannah Kodicek, who was returning to her homeland after being in exile. It was an amazing experience – the air was electric with excitement and new-found freedom. But there was also a very palpable sense of sadness for all those people who had died resisting oppression. There was a huge impromptu shrine on Wenceslas Square that features in the poem. But let’s be clear: the City in the poem is not just Prague.
Can you talk a bit about the Fool?
The fool archetype appears in all traditions. In the poem he has a dog, just like the tarot fool. The fool goes where wise men dare not and he transforms people he meets. He is of course the divine fool – Jesus in the Western tradition. I tend to write poetry about archetypes.
How long have you been writing poetry?
I have always written poetry. I was first published at the age of 13, when I appeared in an anthology alongside some well-known poets, including Philip Larkin, who was very complimentary about my work. In my twenties my work appeared in Michael Horovitz’s seminal anthology Grandchildren of Albion, which was a collection of work by the best contemporary British poets. Again I was in great company – Carol Ann Duffy, Ben Okri, Grace Nichols and Fiona Pitt Kethley all featured.
How do you approach writing poetry?
I don’t – it approaches me! I have a habit of not writing poetry for years and then having a period in which I write intensely. This poem was produced like that. I wish I could be consistent, but I can’t.
What is the future of poetry in the world of ebooks?
Ebook publishers, especially Amazon Kindle Direct, have allowed poets like me to access a much wider audience than before. And I am very excited by this and by what can be done with ebooks. Poetry should be heard out loud as well as read and I am looking in to how I might incorporate audio into books. This book is a radio play written for several voices – imagine what might be possible. In the 1950s the BBC Radio provided patronage for experimental poetry creating a golden age of British poetry. I hope another golden age is about to start.
Where we can find more of your poetry?