Sunday 26 September 2010

Dancing With Myself: UV RAY interviews UV RAY

UV Ray isn't the kind of person who's going to pull a punch. He really feels his art.
You ever get an email from him, you'll notice his signature:
Writer, drinker, womaniser extra-ordinaire,
swindler par-excellence, liar, cheat & all
round filthy rotten miscreant.
He tells it like it is for him.

It's also the first time I've put in my own pennies worth. Important for me is that the interviews are printed as they come - no censorship here. I do feel the need to throw up an editorial note, however.

John Cooper Clarke is one of my poetry lights. He's the man who switched me back on to the spoken and written word as an art form as a young teenager (after I'd stupidly let the lights go out on fairytales, nursery rhymes, White Fang and all those wonderful BBC radio stories). It was in Preston that I saw him, January 1979, support for Richard Hell and Elvis Costello. He was amazing and for me he's still aces.
I'm less passionate about Pam Ayres (if you don't know, I wouldn't do any searching), but even Pam has her place and good luck to her.

That said, buckle up. I'm pressing the button.

UV Ray -

An editor once called you a “rubbish writing charlatan.” Is this Correct?

Yeah. I should have cut the long-haired yeti’s balls off with a cheese-wire. That was an editor of a highly respected magazine about 20 years ago. The magazine is no longer around. So who’s laughing now? I dunno. I’m still very much an underground writer.

So you fought back and now we’ve seen your work in scores of magazines around the world, what drives you on?

I wouldn’t say I fought back. Nothing drives me on. Writing is simply a terminal disease. I’ve tried to give up many times but it’s like a cancer that keeps coming back. It’s eating me away from the inside. The drink won’t kill me. The writing will. I’m just so wasted at the moment. Tired of all the waiting around. I’ve banged out two novels in the last year, entitled Spiral Out and Jump Cuts. I’ve sent them out but I don’t hold much hope, even though excerpts in two or three magazines have been received well by editors and readers alike. I feel periods of exhilaration – and then the dissolution returns. I’ve set about work on a third novel with a working title, Meat.

So is poetry or fiction your main focus?

My first book of poetry sold well. I was surprised by good reviews. It out-sold many other books of poetry at the time but it’s never mentioned. I think my second collection, Road Trip & Other Poems, is infinitely better but I’ve given up on getting it published, even though I truly believe it deserves to be out there. 95% of the poems in the book have already appeared in numerous magazines, but as a collection I don’t have any more energy to invest in getting it out. I am a bombed out shell of a man. I feel as though I have written in my own blood. I’m planning on buying a VW Camper van and just disappearing. Fuck it. Honestly, I have got nothing left. Whether it is fiction or poetry, I feel as though it is my own spilled blood. But you know; I’ve spilled enough of my own blood. I need a short rest and then pretty soon I’m really gonna be ready to start slitting a few throats big style.

How do you orchestrate your writing schedule?

I carry a Moleskine notebook and I write on the move. In coffee shops, bars, on trains, in hotels. Life is too short for all of us, life is so fleeting. We are like clouds, and once we evaporate no one will ever see our exact form in that exact place ever again. I suppose I am overcome with the sadness of that notion. I just try and preserve moments in time. There is a veneer to the world. I don’t want to crack it, just to touch it. There’s beauty in surfaces. I’ve always said I consider my work to be like an Andy Warhol painting, rather than a Francis Bacon.

But aren’t you often equated with the Beats?

Yeah, it seems to be the case that I’m considered a contemporary beat writer. But I do not consider myself as such. I think I am more akin to a symbolist style like Giuseppe Ungaretti. But my influences come more from the likes of Robert Frank, Sonic Youth, the Velvet Underground and Andy Warhol – much more so than the more obvious literary icons. In fact, I don’t read much. The next person that says I am a Beat writer or that I write like Bukowski; I’ll chase them down the street with an axe. And John Cooper Clarke: I’m coming for you regardless.

Are there any current crop of writers you would align yourself with then?

Is there fuck. I do not believe in cliques. I’m happy continuing to skirt the fringes of the literary shit-tip. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: literature is dead. Ole’ u.v is the flower budding in the fist of its corpse. All he needs is a bit of water. So they better watch out, for the rains are surely soon to come.

There must be some writer you consider an inspiration, someone you like?

We’re living in a world where the likes of John Cooper Clarke and Pam Ayres, with their puerile, plodding couplets that resemble the literary dribblings of a 10 year old, are elevated to TV personality status. I can’t find inspiration in that world. This is an absolute travesty, an absolutely incalculable scandal, whilst writers like Joseph Mitchell go to their graves as unknowns. People are wankers. They don’t deserve anyone tearing strips off themselves to offer them something pure and beautiful. They elevate Justin fucking Bieber over Lou Reed. Joseph Mitchell’s Joe Gould’s Secret was an unsung literary masterpiece but still the great unwashed will go out and buy Dan shitty Brown.

You seem bitter. What are you drinking these days?

I’m still on the whiskey. It helps bolster my resolve in resisting the world’s attempts to reform me. The world tries to hammer us into a pigeon hole. I won’t let that happen. The day I start scratching backs is the day I’ll take a running jump. I mean actually, I drink just about anything. But whiskey is my drink of choice. Apparently the government now think it’s a problem that people sit in their houses drinking. First it was smoking. Then they raise the cost of alcohol continually in bars, now they’re setting about stopping supermarkets selling discounted alcohol. They’re cutting off all our escape routes. Bastards. It’s a modern implementation of prohibition. Keep everyone unhappy. Keep everybody enslaved. Heed the words of Gil Scott Heron – the revolution won’t be televised. I’m not bitter. I’m just dead right.

If there was one thing that should be banished from the world....?

Have I mentioned John Cooper Clarke?

What’s next on the cards for ole’ u.v?

There’s work due out all over the place. Magazines here. Magazines there. But as far as the books are concerned, I won’t hold my breath. Bastards.

What time do the pubs open?


  1. Awesome! I'm totally behind you in the elevation of shite above class! Great interview UV.

  2. Oh, thank you, Mr. Barber. So kind.

    And thanks for getting it up, Nigel. It was an honour to be asked.

  3. Excellent interview. UV's comments vis-à-vis mediocracy are spot-on, his wit sharp as a sabre.

  4. Ah, the bile! UV ... one day, matey, one day.


  5. Thanks everyone. There's no business like show business. :-)

    As always, I am flattered by your responses.