Edinburgh International Book Festival 2014 interview: Kevin Eldon

This article is from 2014

*4kevin Eldon

credit: Chris Floyd

The comedian, actor and writer discusses his biography of eerily similar poet Paul Hamilton

‘It's all a bit subjective isn't it, poetry?’ asks Kevin Eldon, comedian and well-known face around cult television comedy shows like Big Train and Brass Eye. ‘Well, everything is really. Subjective. Even that opinion.’ He’s discussing the poetry of his until-now unknown cousin Paul Hamilton, whose ‘biography’ Eldon has just released.

‘I suppose that for me, a rather flippant man, Paul's poetry is perhaps a little “serious” for my taste. It's a bit intense. But I know a lot of people like that in poetry. They're looking for that take on life which affects them on a profound level.’

Eldon doesn’t agree. He’d rather read John Hegley because he’s funny, although John Donne (‘pretty heavy!’) is another favourite. ‘My favourite poem written by Paul is called "Roadside Genocide",’ he says. ‘It's about his horror at the phenomenon of roadkill. It makes me laugh a lot. I'm not sure that it's supposed to.’ Paul, says Eldon, is ‘very committed to his art, to the point of obsession, it could be argued. Which is not necessarily a bad thing.’

There have been rumours that Paul Hamilton doesn’t exist, that he’s a character assumed by Eldon, although conveniently Paul’s anger at Eldon’s ‘stitch-up’ of a book (‘Paul has a very set view of what was and what is, and that level of conviction has got to be admired’) won’t allow this theory to be tested. ‘We're both booked but he's refusing to share a stage with me,’ says Eldon, ‘so I'm afraid the appearances will have to be staggered, at his insistence. He'll be reading some of his poetry and I'll be reading some extracts from the book. It might be a bit of a chilly atmosphere. I hope not. Be nice to see you there.’

Charlotte Square Gardens, 0845 373 5888, 16 Aug, 9.30pm, £10 (£8).

Kevin Eldon

Faber and Faber is world famous for publishing the giants of poetry. Now, with My Prefect Cousin, Faber offers us the poems of cult (fictional) poet Paul Hamilton. His cousin, the renowned comedy actor Kevin Eldon, has pieced together Hamilton’s story, the man once described by the Poetic Literary Review as 'a diabolical…