i'm sitting here writing a poem
(or at least pretending to) while
a photographer shoots me with 
a wide-angle lens. of course it's
fake - this isn't even my office,
rather the media lab at yeonhui 
in north-west seoul, a thousand
miles from home(s), months
ago, a million species of weird-
ness, like a bastardised poet-model
(po-mo) whoring myself out 
for that fabled publicity shot. 
the camera flashes, blips, whirrs,
a semblance of a shutter, a studied 
pose, the stack of books as props,
the obligatory globe. looking 
at the camera now, as i write, 
is harder than it looks. somehow
it still feels fake ... especially
in close-up. can the viewer see
what i'm writing here and does 
anybody really care? these are 
the 'travails' of the modern writer
distilled into one single stream
of consciousness, etched in pencil. 
the shoot is done, it's time to go
but fuck it - they'll just have to
wait until my final line is written:


Hilary Mantel on Catholicism, reality and rebels

In the ideal world, all writers would have a Catholic childhood, or belong to some other religion which does the equivalent for you. Because Catholicism tells you at a very early age the world is not what you see; that beyond everything you see, and the appearance – or the accidents as they’re known – there is another reality, and it is a far more important reality. So it’s like running in the imagination. I think that this was the whole point for me – that from my earliest years I believed the world to have an overt face and a hidden face, and behind every cause another cause, and behind every explanation another explanation, which is perhaps of quite a different order. And if you cease to believe in Catholic doctrine it doesn’t mean that you lose that; you still regard the world as ineffable and mysterious and as something which perhaps in the end can’t quite be added up. It could be summed up as saying “all is not as it seems”, and of course that’s the first thing Catholicism tells you. And then it just runs through everything you write and everything you touch, really. Plus, it’s good to have something to rebel against.

Hilary Mantel