Paris Review – The Art of Poetry No. 30, Philip Larkin

by Scott Smith

When the notion of securing a Paris Review interview with Larkin arose, the staff was not sanguine. Much to the staff’s delight, Larkin consented warily, stating that he wasn’t crazy about the idea, but that “The Paris Review series is, of course, known to me, and I can see I should be in good company.” In the case of this interview, Larkin did not let down his guard sufficiently to be interviewed in person. He stipulated that the interview be conducted entirely by mail: “You will get much better answers that way.” He took nearly five months to answer the initial set of questions sent to him at his home in Hull, England, stating, “It has taken rather a long time because, to my surprise, I found writing it suffocatingly boring.”