A Poem, A Puppet, and A Piano – Part 2 of 3

Poet & Musician

Scott “Scoddy” Bywater

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Discussing A Recent Publication Celebrating 10 years of his Poetry.


10 years is linear, this collection of poems is _________? Why 10 years? More time during pandemic times? A personal milestone?

It’s been ten years since I came back to poetry, set up a blog (thesilverpepperofthestars.wordpress.com) and quickly got into a rhythm posting new pieces as they were written. And since then, every nine months or so, I have enough for a book, so I whack it on a USB stick and pop over to my little neighbourhood printer and they print it up for me. The next one, due in a couple of months, will be volume 12 in that series.

So to mark the tenth anniversary, I decided to put together a thematic collection, something of a sprawling collage of a love letter to Phnom Penh, jumping around in time, leaping gaps in on-going attempts to seduce the city onto the page. It’s called Many ways. Three years ago I did a similarly themed collection called Some of the many rains of Cambodia; there’s a little cross over but not much.

Most responses and feedback from people at readings, postings on Internet, or those who read the poems and later comment to you?

Most of the intermittent spontaneous responses I receive are via internet postings, when I’ve managed to touch something, or express an atmosphere that is particularly apt for someone, that speaks to their condition, as the Quakers say. For those people who are active readers of poetry, and are often quite frank about that, the discussions will tend to be in bars and restaurants, over wines or beers. While I love doing readings, they can be somewhat intense affairs, and the conversations tend to be deferred until later.

What drives sales of your books?

I have a small following of people who keep up to date, often (I’m told) dedicating one of their shelves to my books, all in a row. And it’s not just these volumes now, also I have a couple of long-form poems in book form, and two collections of music interviews. Like with so many things, if you keep doing something long enough you become part of the landscape and achieve some sort of respectability.

What is the future of your poetic artistry coming out of the pandemic? Same path, new energy or direction, and/or taking it to a new level with technology?

Ha ha – actually we’re not out of it yet. Cambodia had a brief slowdown last year between March and May, and then we were pretty much back to business as usual; however there was an incident last month and the country is shutting down again. So ask me about coming out of the pandemic in a couple of months.

To some extent I feel like I wrote myself dry on the lockdown last year, I’d just be repeating myself. But who knows what might happen next. Inspiration is an elusive thing sometimes. But of course that is one of the delights of poetry – there are no limits bar those you put on yourself, and often I’m surprised that I’ll go for a month without writing anything, only to cough up two or three within a day or two.

The particular downside at present is I haven’t been able to properly launch the new collection with a reading, which is always good for sales. I have been discussing the possibility of doing a livestream reading, particularly for those outside Cambodia.

Can we expect any future projects similar to the WASH collaboration using words and audio-visual works in a live or studio environment?

My ambient composer collaborator Warren and I speak about this from time to time. We have a couple of things in the vault that are just waiting for some love and attention, and when we cross paths we always talk excitedly about working on new projects together. I’d say there’ll be something new from us within this decade.


Explore Scott Bywater’s world – Not bad for a Tazzie lad!

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