One minute with: Michael Rosen, Former Children's Laureate


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The Independent Culture

Where are you now and what can you see? I’m at home in North London and looking out of the back, I can see the backs  of shops.

What are you currently reading?  I’m reading ‘One-Way Street’ by Walter Benjamin. I’m doing a programme about his broadcasts for children which have only just been translated into English. They found manuscripts from the early ‘30s before he fled Berlin so I’m reading stuff I’ve never read before. It’s peculiarly elliptical and brilliant.

Choose a favourite author, and say why you admire her/him  For a while it was Geoffrey Chaucer, but totally and ultimately, it will be Shakespeare.

Describe the room where you usually write There is no usual room. I’m a peripatetic writer. I think a lot of us are, particularly if you write short pieces and poems. You can do it on the move, so you can say that my usual room is a train carriage.

Which fictional character most resembles you? Emil in ‘Emil and the Detectives’. I rememer having similar anxieties: that I’d get something wrong if I went on my own to the big city from the suburbs. Baker’s Street station was Friedrich Strasse for me.

Who is your hero/heroine from outside literature? [The chartist] William Cuffay, who came as a free man from Saint Kitts to England. A man of incredibly strength and brilliance. I salute William Caffay from Saint Kitts!

Michael Rosen’s book, ‘How Every Letter Tells a Story’, is published by John Murray