David McCooey is a poet, critic and reviewer. ‘
I write poetry because I must,’ he says, ‘
and I write criticism, often, because I am asked.’ But that doesn't mean that the latter is of less importance. For David, ‘
creative’ writing and ‘
critical’ writing fundamentally interpenetrate each other. ‘
It's like reading and writing: one is a form of the other’.
Given these views, and the fact that he is a critic, David is embarrassed by the degree of difficulty he finds in talking about his own poetry. ‘
I find it very hard. On the one hand, I feel that one should be able to say what one is doing and why; on the other, I find that there remains something mysterious about writing, especially writing poetry’. David's poems are often short, intense and imagistic. ‘
I'm interested in bringing together the disparate: the satirical and the elegiac; the everyday with the mysterious; the serious and the humorous’.
Paradox is clearly central to David's writing. ‘
When I write a poem, there is usually something that I want to explore, but at the same time there is usually something I'm completely unaware of—at least initially—going on’. Strong writing, David believes, comes from strong reading. That means being open to the creative possibilities of everything you read (or hear or see). ‘
I've written poems about Frankenstein's monster, cover versions of songs, and paintings’. These aren't merely exercises, but attest to what David sees as central to any creative activity: transformation.
David also believes that strong reading is also central to writing for another reason. ‘
Revising, redrafting, and reworking are as important as the initial moment of “inspiration”’. Like most poets, David revises his poems many times before he considers them publishable. ‘
But it's not just poetry. Essays, reviews, and non-fiction of any kind also need the discipline of strong reading’. For David, then, writing is a constant moving between apparently opposing categories: self and other; inspiration and craft; originality and revision.