John Hegley interviewed in The Independent – recommended
Throughout our interview Hegley’s mood slips between thoughtful, solemn and pained. “I would say I have the ability to be funny, but I wouldn’t say I am just funny,” he says. In the past, he has been vocal on topics such as the invasion of Iraq, something that made him feel “helpless”. Is it his duty as a poet to engage with issues like war? “No,” he says forcefully. “Most of the time I think – just get on with your job. But Iraq felt wrong. It felt wrong to create more terror. We should always ask, well, what are the alternatives?
“But I can’t say that under no circumstances would I be against armed conflict – I can’t. Look at the Second World War. Or Yugoslavia. I’m so ill-equipped to talk about these things, but it seemed as though that was a good response, or an effective response. It seemed reasonable.”
Would he describe himself as a misfit? “Yeah, I probably am. Yeah,” he says, as if he’s never considered the question before. “Maybe misfit isn’t quite right,” he muses, “but certainly not easy fit. There was a boy at school, and when we had a debate he would address the class, ‘ladies, gentlemen – and Hegley’, which was quite wounding.
“I was just a bit odd,” he says cheerfully. “I remember singing with gusto in the school choir on the first day, and the boy next to me said, ‘You don’t get medals for singing here, mate’.” Luckily for Hegley fans everywhere, the incident hasn’t proved much of a deterrent.