John Hegley

Hi, John. First question. When did you start writing?

I wrote my first poem aged ten.

Why do you write poetry?
I like rhyming, shortness and sharpness of lingo.

Do you write anything other than poetry?
I write 30 minute dramas.

How long does it take to write a poem?
The average time including thinking is one hour and a half.
As long as a football match.

How long does it take to write a book?
Multiply the number of poems by 90 and
that’s the making time in minutes.


My Dog is a Carrot (Walker Books)

What is the most unusual event that has inspired you to write a poem?
I met this dog once that was really a carrot…

An Owner’s Complaint

I’ve got a dog that’s more
like a carrot than a dog.
It’s hairy,
but only very slightly.
It’s got no personality
to speak of,
no bark to bark of,
no head
no legs
no tail
and it’s all

How do you write your poems?
I write with a very thin nibbed pen.

Do you have a special time to write?
After I have dropped my daughter off at school, in the cafe

Are you writing anything at the moment?

Do you visit schools?

How many schools have you visited?

Do you travel around very much?

Have you been on the TV or radio?
I was once mentioned on Brookside.


There once was a woman of Gwent
who was useless at pitching a tent
she hammered a peg
through a bone in her leg
and immediately after, she went

Who is your favourite poet?
I like Mike Rosen

Of all the poems you’ve written, which is your favourite?
Maybe The Death of a Dog (Glad to Wear Glasses)

Have you any pets?
We have a hamster called Titchy and a visiting cat.

What football team do you support?
Luton Town

How do you spend your spare time?
Stroking the pets and watching football.

What did you do before becoming a poet?
I was a pet

Poem About My Sister

My dad told my sister not to play
with her food.
It was reasonable advice,
carrots do not make very good friends.

Have you any plans for the future?
Get a dog

Do you have a web page?

What could schools do to improve the way poetry is taught?
I find schools are usually very enthusiastic about poetry
and, usually, it is a pleasure to visit them

What advice would you give to young poets?
Talk about the things that you think make you you. Make words up.
Make words be naughty.

Thank you, John.

John Hegley drawing

This interview was made in 2000. John’s latest book is I Am a Poetato (Francis Lincoln.)

The above poems are from John Hegley’s book, My Dog is a Carrot (Walker Books)
and are copyright John Hegley 2000. The photo is copyright Jackie di Stefano 2002.
Illustration copyright John Hegley 1991

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