Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Sheenagh Pugh on writers and displacement

Sheenagh Pugh has posted a thought-provoking article about writers and displacement on her blog. I very much recommend you read the full version here, but I was especially drawn to the following remark:

"...the writers who fascinate me do not have a sense of place so much as a sense of displacement..."

And on certain former students:

"...they observed the place where they now lived differently; they noticed and highlighted things that for a native-born poet might not have stood out, and over and over, their sense of the place where they were was informed by their equally keen sense of that other place where they had once been, but now were not..."

This ties in with my own feelings. The experience of living in a foreign country, immersed in the local language, culture and society, forms the core of my work. Not only does my background as a Brit inform my view of Spain, but my perspective of Britain is also conditioned by Iberia's counterpoint. I've learned how foreigners see my own place of birth, what surprises them, what they value and disdain both of the U.K. and their own homeland. I consciously and unconsciously sift through these angles, contrasting and comparing them, and I'm convinced they enrich my writing.

What's more, if we're talking about an enriching process, the learning of a second language to bilingual standard very much enlightens the use of a native language. My understanding of English has deepened thanks to having been surrounded by Spanish for the last sixteen years. My greater knowledge of the effect of words has played a key role in the development of my poetry.

Many thanks to Sheenagh for posting her article - it certainly got me thinking!

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