Gabriel Rosenstock is a Poet, novelist, playwright, author and translator of over 170 books, mostly in Irish. Among the anthologies in which he is represented is Best European Fiction 2012 (Dalkey Archive Press) & Haiku in English: The First Hundred Years (W. W. Norton & Co. 2013). Sasquatch is a new volume of bilingual poems (Arlen House 2013).
DBF: Were you always interested in writing and literature or did it suddenly come about for you?
Gabriel: The great Korean poet Ko Un speaks of a time when he was a horse on the shores of the Caspian Sea, many moons ago. I’m sure he was a poet, then, too. It is the same with me. I was drawn to poetry a thousand years ago. By the way, I have published Irish-language versions of Ko Un. Worth a look! The book is called Scairt Feithide, which means the cry of an insect. But you knew that already!
DBF: What would you say most inspires you to write, if it is a number of things, do you think your sense of Irishness or place influences you in any way?
Gabriel: I don’t have any sense of Irishness. Not this morning anyway. It might return before supper. Hard to tell. After my work on Scairt Feithide, I had more of a sense of insectness than anything else really. That’s how it works. After bringing out a controversial volume of the prose and poetry of Agnar Artúvertin, a book called Ifreann, which means Hell, I felt quite Faroese for a while. That feeling has gone now.
My latest book is the bilingual volume of poems Sasquatch (Arlen House) and for a while there I felt semi-mythical, almost extinct.
DBF: You seem to be very fond of nature and your love of Ireland’s natural beauty is obvious in your work, why is that do you think?
Gabriel: It’s part of my Shinto faith. You can pick it up from rocks, grass, snails, the wind that shakes the barley. Have a look at the haiku and haiga sections on my blog for further insight into these mysteries!
DBF: What is it about the Irish language that appeals to you so much, why write through our native tongue and not English – what is it about the Irish language that walks hand in hand with poetry for you?
Gabriel: Someone once said (this was in the context of sexual intimacy): ‘Once you go black, you never go back!’ It’s the same with Irish. Once you go deeply inside Irish, English will seem very dry and insipid by comparison. Dead, actually. When we started the Irish-language poetry journal INNTI, it was (as its name suggests) a mission that involved having a very intimate and passionate relationship with the language. It’s a Tantric thing.
DBF: Finally, what advice would you give to any budding writers?
Gabriel: Write in Irish, or in any peripheral language that’s left. It’s your only chance.