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Blog Tour Author Interview: Prose poetry 'Machine Journey' by Richard Doyle

Welcome to the Fly on the Wall Press stop on the Machine Journey blog tour!

Machine Journey is a pamphlet of prose poems and flash fictions. Travel the road from Slough to Mars. Discover wild visions, strange tales and machine futures. Scramble your way to the perfect swimming stroke. Doyle leads us through museums, galleries and cobbled towns with a touch of Science Fiction and dark humour…

About the Author:

Richard Doyle is an old-school SF fan who began writing seriously in 2001. He has a Diploma in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia and collaborated on a book in 2006. He has had poems published in the UK poetry magazines Orbis and Sarasvati and is a regular member of the Bristol Stanza Poetry Group. His debut pamphlet "The death of the sentence" was published in 2020. Two of his poems appear in the Bristol Stanza pamphlet "The Weather Indoors" (2021).

We had the pleasure of interviewing Richard about his new chapbook...

1. How long have you been writing poetry, and did anything in particular inspire you to start?

Genre fiction and plays dominated my reading for many years until I took the plunge and completed a Diploma in Creative Writing in 2006. That was where my poetic journey began. The inspiration was a simple desire to start writing my own stories.

2. When you are writing poetry, do you find certain themes and topics reoccur in your work?

In terms of recurring themes, I often return to dystopias or alternative presents. Otherwise I just like to explore where the writing can take me.

3. Do you have any favourite poets, and have you ever tried to emulate their style? If so, how did that go?

Robert Frost and Malcolm Lowry both feature in the opening poem of Machine Journey. Simon Armitage, Luke Kennard, Jose Luis Borges, Fernando Pessoa and Pablo Neruda are my favourite poets to read.

I would love to match the brevity of Frost but I feel my prose has more of the meandering Borgesian style.

4. ‘Machine Journey’ is classed as prose poetry. When does a poem become a story (full prose), and how do you navigate classifying your work?

There is a rich hinterland between prose poetry and prose fiction or flash fiction. My favourite fiction authors either start out as poets or are deeply aware of the expressive power of poetic prose. David Mitchell has a page-long paragraph in “The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet” that describes the flight of seagulls over Nagasaki that for me is simply breathtaking. I am relaxed about the classification of my poems as long as the reader can connect with my writing.

5. What do you hope for your chapbook’s release, in terms of how a reader might experience ‘Machine Journey’?

My hope is that the reader can take all the images and ideas expressed in Machine Journey and form their own vision of our collective future and the power of prose to inspire.

6. Would you be able to share a poem with us from the chapbook and talk about the inspiration behind it?

The one truly personal poem in Machine Journey is “Slough in my dreams”. This is my attempt at a potted history of my home town mixed with my personal experiences of growing up in the 70s and early 80s. I often find the best poems are when you bring two half-poems together as the separate themes interleave and enrich each other. I hope the reader can pick up or research the references and enjoy the repeating form of Slough sentences.

Slough in my dreams

Slough as a muddy bog, a crossroads, a coachstop. Walking

past The Three Tuns on the Bath Road. Highwaymen.

Slough by the wayside. Playing in gardens and fields,

conkering and marbles, rounders and football cards,

running and fighting and laughing. Slough as a

playground. Slough Station and Queen Victoria. The

Windsor & Eton Line. Slough in its heyday. Roads, railways,

motorways. Slough as hub of industry: Horlicks, ICI, Mars.

Surviving Betjeman and German bombs. Slough rocking

and rolling, the Stones at the Adelphi. Slough in the

doldrums, softly sighing on its way to obscurity. Shadows

and glimpses, bicycles and shopping trolleys in the murky

depths of the Grand Union Canal. Faded glories, frantic

overdevelopment. Slough as baggage. Upheaval, exams and

studying, cricket and cross-country races and Saturday jobs,

the fallout and escape. Slough at the permanent edge of


Link to buy the book on Kindle:

And one of my personal favourites...

Sample poem:

The Stone Computer

Images have not appeared on that polished granite screen for hundreds of years. Why did we spend so many hours every day staring into that luminous void?

Carvings on the tiny ziggurats of the keyboard remind us of ancient paperbacks. Did all that urgent typing help us to create the music of the Spheres?

Why did they build this strange mausoleum? We can leave when we want but there is always that gentle overriding urge to stay.

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