Q: What about the human influences, the effect of people, on what you write? Is it as great as books which obviously have quite a significant impact from what you say?
Price: Many of my poems are the result of experiences I have with my colleagues and students at work. I lecture in the social sciences and humanities at the West Australian Department of Training. I am also very committed to the Baha’i Faith and this commitment brings me into contact with many different kinds of people and situations. These generate another group of poems, as does my family and friends. My poetry is very autobiographical and I often will write a poem about someone whom I knew many years ago, my mother or father, say. And then, this may sound strange to you, but I like to think of, and I certainly believe in, the influences on my poetry from those who have gone on to another world. This is a much more subtle, more intangible, process; but it is certainly a human influence I cannot discard because I am often conscious of it. Just exactly how this influence takes place I do not know or understand.
There are many precursors to my poetry. Although some stand out like Roger White, William Wordsworth, Emily Dickinson, indeed, the very poetic nature of the Baha’i writings, there are dozens of influences that I would not want to veil or conceal from myself or from others. Of course, one cannot like all the poets and writers to the same degree. One develops favorites and these favorites take on greater influence. But the subject is simply too vast to put into a paragraph.
Q: Many poets in the late twentieth century draw on the movies, film, TV, video, for much of their material. Does contemporary film, theatre, music, the arts in general, come into your poetry?
Price: I rarely read newspapers anymore; TV is very much a peripheral experience for me although, since I want to sit with my wife and son, I do watch the news and an odd assortment of stuff. I’d watch perhaps one video every two months; I listen to a lot of ABC radio and read a great many books. My wife and I, and sometimes our son, would go to the movies perhaps once every two months. Some radio items get into my poetry; occasionally an item from TV or the press becomes the basis for a poem, but mostly books and experience past and present.
Q: What are some of the topics, themes, subjects, content areas of your poems?
Price: Anyone who actually reads my poetry will see that question answered in exquisite and not-so-exquisite-detail, as the case may be. Many of my poems deal with the process of writing poetry; all the poems are introduced with quotations from various sources which relate in different ways to the content of the poetry. Off the top of my head I’d say the following were common topics in my poetry: love, religion, Mt Carmel, my family, the Baha’i Faith, poetry, writing, people, the erotic, nature, history, etcetera. I think the list, even a list of categories, is virtually endless.
Q: How do you determine the length of a poem, its shape; how do you decide when it is over, its style?
Price: The length is determined largely by the content, the topic and by what I have to say. There is no specific pattern here, as far as I can see. There tend to be certain patterns: sonnet length, one-to-two page poems on rare occasions; very few poems are less than ten lines; even fewer would go for more than three pages. A statistical analysis might reveal some concentrations which I am not aware of here. Sometimes a poem is light and humorous; at other times it is very serious, maybe even a little depressing for some people, although I am conscious of people’s disinclination to dwell on the heavy side of life at least here in Australia. Most of the time the poem is easy to end because I get a clear feeling I have said what I want to say.
Perhaps once every ten or twenty poems I get into a bind and I cannot find the words I want; it is an anxious and discomfiting process when this happens and if all my writing was like this I’d give up writing poetry. Thankfully, writing poetry is a fairly flowing experience with a great deal of pleasure associated with an ease of expression. Indeed, much of the writing of poetry I would even describe as a blissful process, sheer delight. When I reread it seems as if it was not written by me at all. I find this phenomenon quite strange, exciting in a way, but it makes me feel cautious as if I was dealing with a gift, a gift that has come to me in my middle years and one I treasure as if from the Source of awe and power.