David Francis Barker: The Painter Poet

David Francis Barker describes himself succintly enough: “I try to write poetry and paint”. The author of the poetry collection Anonymous Lines(available at amazon.co.uk) blogs at francisbarkerart.com.
In every interview I try to capture a different aspect of the blogging poet be it  archetype, form or inspiration. Today it is art.
How do you think being a visual artist has influenced your poetry?

Quite a lot, to be honest. Visual artistic expression is a great aid to poetry; you think in a different, more tactile way which can create a very profound method of expressing through words, especially in nature. One poem in my book ‘Anonymous Lines’, called ‘The Painter’, benefited particularly from this, where I used the actual names of colours on tubes of oil paint, purely because they are still the colours I use all the time. To me they actually expressed a feeling through colour, those unusual names, put in this context of nature, love and creation. It’s hard to explain but I think it works.

Does the picture inspire the poem or is it the other way round?
It varies. Sometimes I have an existing painting, which I might digitally enhance in response to a poem. As a great many of my paintings are seascapes and I also like writing about the sea, it is often not difficult to ‘tie them up’. Only occasionally, does a specific painting or poem directly inspire the other, or require another creation. I started using both together because I didn’t (and still don’t) think that either is strong enough on its own. Increasingly, however, I’m now finding that I want the poems to stand alone.
Your blog journey.
I made several ‘false starts’ over a number of years, trying out various subjects to blog about, stretching back to around 2006. The present blog actually began around a couple of years ago but I didn’t start to do it more seriously until about a year ago, following more people and taking a keener interest in the amazing talent out there. I’m not sure what keeps me going, but perhaps the thought that if I gave up completely it would be harder to ‘re-establish’, so to speak.
Do you worry about posting your art and poetry on the web- in terms of web plagiarism or copyright infringement?
Yes, I do.
Sometimes I put a watermark on the painting, or crop it down, but to be honest, any publicity of paintings is good. As for the poems, I always state they are my copyright. I think the interaction you get from others more than out weighs any danger of copyright violation. Poetry is surely the most personal of all art.
Do you think blogging your creations affects your chances of publication in the mainstream? Or is it literary suicide?
Yes, I think it probably does, but trying to get poems published in books and magazines can be very difficult (as I know), for many publications receive huge numbers of poems. Most magazines and publishers do not want previously published work, even those from blogs, but there are some around who will take them if you take the time to look.
I am always amazed when someone likes my work and I take nothing for granted, because I have to work so hard to get anything which I consider good enough for others to see.
As an artist, do you think that poetry can be made more interesting  now that you can publish poetry, photos and pictures in unison? What kind of potential do poetry blogs have today?
Yes, it’s nice to be able to illustrate a poem- especially if it’s your own image as well, it gives it more power, more completeness. I’m not sure about the potential poetry blogs may have. Potential publishers might occasionally ‘discover’ someone if they took the time to look, but I suspect many don’t. I suppose if someone is really good, then word will get around, go viral perhaps. If this happened, then that particular blog would disappear rather quickly and reappear as a fully fledged website. I don’t think the huge increase in volume of blog poetry necessarily improves its potential.
Tell us about your publication Anonymous Lines- how did it come about?
It was around 18 months ago. I had collected quite a large number of poems over many years, but I had always been reluctant to do anything with them, although I had had the odd one published. This was before I began to blog more seriously. So, I was wondering what to do with this ‘collection’, and almost began to put them on my blog at that time.
Then I came across Night Publishing and sent the idea to them. Thankfully, they liked them, made a few suggestions and we were up and running relatively quickly.
I am very grateful, because like all poets, I am full of doubts and have had most of my work rejected over the years in one form or another. It is a very difficult and subjective medium to work in, yet I love it. The love of poetry far out exceeds any ability I have. That goes for painting, too.
(So so true)
Blogging advice?
Advice is very difficult, especially when it comes to poetry. From my experience, I would say ‘have a go’, but don’t necessarily put your best work out there.
Perhaps try and save what you think is your better work and try to get those published elsewhere first – but be patient. One idea might be to put ‘work in progress’ on a blog, work which you know will change over time. I have tried this a couple of times, that way you can get feed back from fellow bloggers and change the poem, even the title, so that it becomes effectively a new poem, one that you can’t say has been published.
However, even on a blog, it’s difficult NOT to put out your best work, isn’t it? We want to look our best, whatever that is.
I think it’s a mistake to put out too many poems, just as it is to blog too little. I think a couple a week might be enough.
Blogging can become obsessive, to the point that we feel we must answer every remark, follow every one we can. I’ve almost been there myself. I think an hour or two a day is the maximum, to be honest, especially as most of us also have to try to earn a bit of money. So, on a weekly basis, I would say around 10-15 hours a week is relatively healthy. I’m sure people will understand if you don’t answer every question, don’t comment on every poem. Find a balance, keep it healthy.
Your inspiration? Which poets do you read and which artists do you never tire of?
Poets who continue to inspire me are: Philip Larkin, Seamus Heaney, Simon Armitage, Ted Hughes, Robert Hass, Sylvia Plath and so many others.Painters who  inspire include Paul Nash, Turner, Monet (and most of the impressionists), Goya, Titian, among others.
Thank you so much David. Was a pleasure to learn how you use the blogging platform effectively  in the spheres of art and poetry.
© neelthemuse,2012

10 thoughts on “David Francis Barker: The Painter Poet Leave a comment

  1. ditto fashionind04 above, beautiful image, would love to see a poem written to that one 😉

    really enjoyed the interview, esp as it involved blending/interacting multiple art forms

    esp liked,

    “it’s nice to be able to illustrate a poem- especially if it’s your own image as well, it gives it more power, more completeness.”


    ” [poetry] … is a very difficult and subjective medium to work in, yet I love it. The love of poetry far out exceeds any ability I have. That goes for painting, too.”

    thanks so much for this interview neel 😉

  2. I am so appreciative that you chose to interview one of my favorite poet-artist bloggers, David Francis Barker! I agree with him that about 2 posts a week is the right amount, most of the time. Feedback from my followers and visitors has proved invaluable in helping me fine-tune WIP!

  3. I enjoyed this interview with David, as he is also one of my favorite poets/artists. Reading about his blogging advice was interesting and I’m sure most of us can relate…trying to stay “caught up” is a never ending battle. However, I do agree with him and have tried to avoid the obsessive feeling. Thanks again, for another great post, Neel~

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