I knew of Nick Palmer from sometime ago and happily re-connected with him via our work on Indies Unite for Joshua. Nick is a poet, a playwright, and a very intense man. I love intense men, especially when that intensity is mixed with intelligence and a passion for what they believe in.
It gives me great pleasure to showcase Nick and his new book. He’s a beautiful and eloquent writer, and I encourage you to pick up a copy of Three Worlds.
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With influences of Robert Frost, Max Ehrmann and Roger McGough, in his superb first collection of a collection of thoughts, Nick Palmer explores the three worlds of human experience; what we are like on the inside, the beauty that inspires us to do great things, and the shadows that snare our hearts.
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Inside Nick Palmer’s Mind
What is your idea of perfect happiness? Cliché as it will sound, it’s being in a house in the hills filled with a good dinner and sharing a cold drink on a warm summer’s evening with all the people I love around me as the sun goes down. There’d be a cat running about the place – a ginger one, called Asimov – and a dog – a King Charles Spaniel, called Dostoyevsky – too. Friends, family and appreciating the simple beauty of the universe, there’s nothing better than that.
What turns you on creatively? I like the way your brain makes connections and leaps when you really get into a piece. Poetry provides that in a quick fix way – I’ve always had the desire to be silly with words and they just arrange themselves in my brain somehow. But that feeling of stringing connections, themes, actions, emotions, all of those together makes me feel so very alive. It’s hard to beat. I like a well created world – it has to be real otherwise it doesn’t hold up. I like naturalism in plays and I want my characters to be believable, rather than two dimensional, even in a comedy. I’m not a big fan of “set-up, punchline” shows or hastily crammed together fantasy worlds. But a compelling story is also a must. For me, it’s the connections and simply put I don’t know how not to write. I don’t remember a time where I wasn’t creating stories or poems. One of my first was about a ghost that was troubling my friends and I – it wore a white glove for some reason. The twist was that when we got back to my friend’s house after solving the whole mystery, his mum was wearing a single white glove. Probably not the best story, but I was only 5 at the time, I think. I remember that the teacher put a drawing of a boy wearing a bow tie at the end, which she only did if something was good. It’s strange remembering that. I love writing, I get antsy if I don’t write, so I keep doing it and if people like the result then that’s even better.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? I think my repeat offender is “true story”, which has become more of a tic than a phrase for me. I can’t stop myself saying it. I also start a lot of responses to texts, tweets, and the like with the word “well”. I’m not sure why.
[Eden] Well … I do the same thing. No wonder we get along.
What quality do you most admire in a man? I like a man to be confident in who he is without wanting to impose that on anyone else. I’m not a ‘jock’ type – I’m very much a nerd and proud of it – and I don’t like a man with the impulse to be physically imposing. Aggression in anyone is unattractive, but men tend to be more guilty of it than women, in my experience anyway. I prize intelligence, kindness, and humour in men and women. But I think overall I admire inner strength – a sense of self and self-governance. It’s the spark that allows you to recognise others’ strengths without being threatened, to stand by friends and family, and to help others in need.
What quality do you most admire in a woman? Much the same as I admire in men – kindness, intelligence, and humour. I like a woman who is confident and outgoing. I don’t like loud people particularly, men or women, because it’s very attention seeking and also hard on the ears, but I like them to be confident. People who think, really think, are always admirable, but it does need to come with that levity of humour. I don’t make much distinction in what I admire in men and women. What is admirable is admirable in anyone.
What is your greatest regret? I don’t like to regret too much – you make your choices and you pay whatever price has to be paid. Besides, if you spend too much time worrying about the past you might miss the opportunities of the present. But not getting to say a proper goodbye to my grandparents – my dad’s parents – before they died and not getting to know them as an adult, those I deeply regret.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I’d like a bit more of a work ethic. I’m not bad at working so much as I leave it all to the last minute, which is not always the best way of getting things done. I’m working on it, but it’s an uphill struggle trying to change something you’re so used to. I always strive to do the best I can, but I do need a gentle kick up the arse every now and again. So, a quick fix on that would be helpful.
What is your greatest fear? Wasps are undoubtedly my mortal enemies. I’ve always found them frightening for some reason; it’s called spheksophobia, which is hard to say in front of people without them mishearing. I’m generally okay about it now, though it was worse when I was younger. If they take me by surprise though, I do go into panic mode. Also, dying. But I don’t like to think about it; it confuses and disturbs me.
Which living person do you most admire? My dad has always been my role model. Okay, that’s a lie, for a while it was Stuart Pearce (a soccer player for Nottingham Forest, the team I support, played 1985-1997) and when I was a bit older it was Kurt Cobain. But my dad is the person I look up to and go to for all my advice. If I end up as half the man he is, I’ll have done well.
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? My ambitions when I was at school moved from being a vet to being in a band or being a journalist. But I think right now I’d say doctor, because you get to help people in a very real sense. That or being a falconer. I do love my birds of prey.
If you could choose what to come back as, what would it be? It’s so difficult to choose. Either a snow leopard, a fox, a barn owl, or a peregrine falcon. From a sort of practical point of view, I think I’d want to be a human, but those are my other animal choices. I’m not sure I could pick one of the four, so if we could arrange some sort of cycle that would be excellent.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? It’s hard to pick things out really, I don’t feel like I’ve achieved much – some days I’m not even sure I’m an adult. But I’ve completed two degrees in history – Bachelors and Masters – and I’m working on adding a PhD to that collection. I’m proud of that. Getting published was also a great thing. It’s something I only ever thought would happen in a dream, so I’m very proud, pleased, and honoured to be a published poet. Alongside that was having my first play, Lost & Found, performed by Leicester University Theatre. It was great for me as a writer and co-director, but also for everyone else who put time and effort into it, both behind the scenes and on the stage. They were all amazing and I couldn’t have done it without them. One of the greatest moments of my life so far.
What is the trait you most deplore in others? It probably sounds very snobby, but ignorance. I find the world uniquely fascinating and I can’t believe it when other people are not interested in the world around them, or even in the simple joy of knowledge and learning. But I also mean it in the sense of ignorance leading to bigotry; that is not cool. I’m what gets referred to in the UK as a “bleeding heart liberal”. Racism, sexism, homophobia, any form of discrimination – not on, not acceptable, not welcome.
[Eden] Word. I got a good sense of this from the comment you left on my recent blog post.
What is your greatest extravagance? I’m a PhD student – I don’t have the funds to be extravagant! But I do have a bit of a weakness for belt buckles (superheroes and other geeky things). I do buy far too many books – I mean too many because I never have time to read them all. You can never have too many books.
What is one thing you want to do before you die? I want to have a family. As I said, my dad has been such an inspiration and role model for me and my mum as well – where would we be without mums, eh? She’s always so supportive, loving, and keeps me from slacking too much! I count myself very lucky to have the parents and family I have. So, I’d like to give it a go myself. But that’s a few years off yet. I’m not much of a “things before you die” person – I like enjoying the here and the now, but I’d like to have a play I’ve written put on at the Old Vic in London. That would be amazing.
What is your favorite music (genre/artist/album/song)? I have a fairly eclectic taste. I’m not very good at picking favourites, since there are times when one artist is better for your mood than another. I like anything really, from Big Bad Voodoo Daddy to Sara Bareilles, from Green Day to Eva Cassidy, but much of what I listen to is alternative – punk, rock, metal. I’m not a fan of hip hop and rap or club music in general and I don’t listen to pop either really, though I like the occasional song. My favourite band of all time is Alkaline Trio and my favourite songs by them are Tuck Me In and Blue In The Face.
What are some of your favorite curse words? I’m a fan of them all, but I suppose ‘fuck’ is the one that I use the most. I try not to say ‘cunt’ a lot but mostly because it gives me a scale up for when I’m really looking to swear. I don’t hold with using swear words in every other sentence because it robs them off their shock value, and undermines the point of using them in the first place. English does have a decent range of swear words, though, in comparison with some other languages, so it’s nice to use a range! But ‘bastard’, ‘fuck’, and ‘cunt’ are probably my favourites.
What is your motto? As a medieval historian and because I grew up wanting to be a medieval knight, I find heraldry fascinating. I spend an inordinate amount of time drawing coats of arms (though I’m not all that great at drawing). The motto most closely associated with my own surname is Palma virtuti, which means ‘the palm is for virtue’: it comes from the fact that Palmers were pilgrims who brought back palm leaves from the Holy Land as proof of their journey. It’s not really a motto I’d take on though. I’m drawn to the simplicity of semper ad meliora – ‘always towards better things’, but I’d probably say that my motto would be a quotation from St. Edmund of Abingdon: “discere quasi simper victurus, vivere quasi eras moriturus”, which (loosely translated) means ‘learn as if always going to live, live as if tomorrow going to die’.
Nick, you are a knight in shining armour in all the ways that count. Thank you for brightening up my day with your fabulous answers.
Readers, please leave a comment and connect with Nick. He’s a really sweet man to know.
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Connect with Nick
Nick Palmer was born in 1985 and grew up in the wide flatlands of South Holland, Lincolnshire, which is why he hardly ever writes poems about mountains! He attended the University of Leicester, where he obtained both a Bachelors and a Masters degree in History. He is currently avoiding what some may call “the real world” by banging his head against the brick wall of a PhD in the Laws of War during the Crusades at the same institution. Poetry is yet another way to explore the world of imagination and to escape from the reality of a looming 80,000 word thesis. He has just had his first anthology, Three Worlds, published with Inspired Quill. In addition to writing poetry, Nick also writes plays; two of his short pieces (The Pearly Gates and Office Life) appeared in the Leicester Comedy Festival 2009 and his first full length play, Lost & Found, was produced by Leicester University Theatre in November 2011. His aspiration is to be a playwright, and have some great heroic actor of the age speak his lines on the stage of the Old Vic. If he can’t have that, he’ll settle for world peace, a bottle of wine, and a ginger cat called Asimov.