My name is Izak, I am 9 years old. My hobbies are electronics, gardening and pottery. I also play the drums, basketball and soccer. I have a sister called Monica, and two cats called Ziggy and Mischief. My favourite author is Andy Griffiths and my favourite book is the 52 Storey Treehouse. I don’t like writing much, but I do like writing poems because they can be very short! (Note from Paula: I have seen some of Izak’s pottery and it is astonishingly good!)
David Eggleton is poet and writer who lives in Dunedin. His books include Time of the Icebergs, a collection of poems published in 2010. His new collection of poems, The Conch Trumpet, will be published by Otago University Press early in 2015.
- What was your favourite book when you were a child?
I didn’t have a favourite book as a child, but I still remember my excitement at primary school when a teacher whose name I forget read Grimm Brothers fairytales to us every week for what seemed like a whole year, but was probably only a few weeks. There were scary but also really good. I had never heard anything like them before.
- What is your favourite book now?
One of my favourite books for a long time has been Moby Dick, by Herman Melville. It’s a story of a great white whale that turns on the American sailors who are hunting it and then destroys their ship. It tells you lots of things about whales, and also about whale-hunters.
- Do you have a favourite author?
No, I don’t have one favourite author, but I do have lots of favourite poets. Here are some of them: William Blake, Lewis Carroll, Hone Tuwhare, Wendy Cope, Emily Dickinson, James K. Baxter. They have all written some magical poems.
- How old were you when you did your first performance poetry event, and were you scared?
A poetry performance event is not quite the same as a poetry reading. I first learnt my poems off by heart, and then recited them on-stage in a break between two rock bands to a noisy crowd, when I was in my early twenties. I was a bit nervous, but most of the crowd liked it. That was my first poetry performance event.
- What was the first car you owned?
I used to own a Holden Belmont that was made in Australia. It had a powerful engine. I travelled all around New Zealand in that car.
- Did you like school?
I liked some subjects at school more than others. I liked music and English and art.
- Who was your favourite teacher and why?
I remember when I was at secondary school — I went to Aorere College in south Auckland — a teacher read out the poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins to us, and she made us study his poems very closely because he was her favourite poet. And he became a poet I liked, to the extent that that my poems are sometimes compared to his. So she — Mz Wellsford — would have to be one of my favourite teachers.
- What was the naughtiest thing that you ever did when you were a kid?
Well, there were many naughty things, but one of the most dangerous was when I was eight years old and me and my friends wandered, on a Sunday when it was closed, onto an air-force base firing range, looking for unexploded bullets which we could bash with rocks to make them explode. We were collecting bullet-shells and bullets, and we had just started smashing them with rocks and bits of wire and nails when we were caught, and not just chased off but escorted back home.
- Do you have any brothers or sisters, and have you ever written a poem about them?
I have one sister and two brothers. I have written poems about some members of my family and I hope eventually to write about all of them. One of my brothers is an artist, and we are working together at the moment on a collection of poems about animals of the South Pacific. He is making woodblock prints for my poems about whales and frogs and lizards and bats.
Thanks David and Izak for a great interview. David has a poem in The Treasury about bats, and having heard him read it in Dunedin, I can tell you it is an excellent poem to read out loud!