He's won praise from the likes of Poet Laureate Andrew Motion and he's sat on top of the Tyne Bridge to gain publicity. Now Newcastle-based poet Andrew Tait has finally got his first collection into print. Through written responses - Andrew is agoragphobic and declines to be interviewed face to face - he shares his insights with Sarah Foster.

Q How old are you and where were you born?

A Forty seven. From 1965 to 1977 I lived with my parents in Tynemouth. Although I only found out about this last year, I grew up on the same housing estate as Sting.

Q Do you currently have a wife or partner?

A No. I live with my ferrets, Squeaky and Cliquey.

Q Do you have any children?

A No. (Figuratively it is said that all humanity are our family members. If we could think of the people of violence as children it could help us to make our responses to them more authentic.)

Q What is your background?

A When I was three years old I played the part of Joseph in a Sunday School Nativity play. I just did what I was told and it was a great success. I captured everybody's heart with my faltering enunciation of the line, "Don't wowwy Marewwee". I was asked back the following year but by then I had developed an off-putting degree of over-confidence. The repeat performance was ghastly and embarrassing. My life has been about working out why.

Q When did you start writing poetry and why?

A At music college my principal study was the French horn. I desperately wanted to be a professional horn player in orchestras, but that is a highly competitive world. Although I may have had the musical ability, I did not have the confrontational personality necessary to succeed. I began writing poetry to mitigate the anguish of this situation. These days I can see that it was the correct road to take, since I can engage in my art as fully and directly as I like, without the hindrance of having the horn in the way.

Q How long has it taken to get your work published and what obstacles have you faced?

A There are said to be four million poets in the United Kingdom and it was always clear that getting published was going to be hard going. For about 15 years, I submitted work to publishers and magazines according to the guidelines given in The Writers Handbook - never sending more than six poems at a time, always enclosing a stamped, self-addressed envelope and not sending the same poem to more than one place at once. After accumulating a hallway full of polite rejection slips I sensed that some kind of special strategy was needed. I came up with two lines of attack. The first was to try to stir up some interest by sending my poetry to celebrities, famous writers and other luminaries. The other was to conduct unusual poetry publicity stunts.

Q To what lengths have you gone to gain publicity?

A My publicity stunts, which were mainly carried out in the late 1990s, have been extensively reported in the press. It was an exhausting and enervating phase of life and I cannot really bear to go into all that again just now. Probably the most effective stunts were the early ones of going on hunger strike and of conducting a sit-down protest on top of the Tyne Bridge (from which I was rescued by a police helicopter). On a more domestic note, I did win some useful attention by engaging in the relatively gentle activities of sending a) Bob Dylan an electric toaster and b) Sting a message in an old Palmolive family shampoo bottle.

Q You have had many celebrity endorsements. Do any stand out?

A While it has been nice to make connections with many famous people, the truly special replies were those from writers like Ted Hughes and Andrew Motion. My overall hero is Sting, because his songs uniquely succeed inwardly (as introspective poems) and outwardly (as incredible mass-market rock songs). A letter he sent me in 2004 is the most treasured letter of my life.

Q What inspires you?

A Our spirituality must be a question of reality and not just someone's nice ideas about some church or meditation group. There is a poem in everything. Anything can be seen as a symbol of the divine in one or another of its facets. Particular inspirations for me come from trees, the songs of Sting, the sea, the songs of Bob Dylan, meditation, difficult people, Larkin's verse structures (if not his messages), Mahler's symphonies, friendships, Mozart and discourses given by truly holy people.

Q How would you describe your work?

A "Pre-metaphysical." I was initiated by a meditation teacher from the Far East in 1980, but I had too many earthly problems to be able to immediately fly to the heavens in contemplation. My work so far has been a report of the clearing of the approaches.

Q I understand you have various health problems. How do they affect your life and work?

A I often ask myself if I would ever have been interested in meditation had my life been free from problems. Since adolescence I have suffered neurotic symptoms such as agoraphobia and insomnia. I have tried every therapy going and it is a bit like the Woody Allen quote when he says he has had psychotherapy, but only for about 30 years. The agoraphobia means that I am currently more or less confined to Newcastle and the insomnia means that I dare not take on any poetry reading commitments. If I know I've got something coming up later in the week I will stop sleeping completely. Then, when the event comes along, I look as if I've been a resident of Belsen (and I tend to come out with garbage in front of the audience). This situation is highly annoying because I know I otherwise have the capability to give regular and good readings. On the other hand, it could be a blessing in disguise as it means that I definitely will not become trapped in the meditation-castrating world of celebrity.

Q How would you describe yourself?

A As a perilous combination of cosmic and terrestrial energies that are liable to explode to the corners of the universe at any moment.

Q How would you like to be remembered?

A I want to be forgotten and left alone so that my spirit may go into the realms of light unhindered. But I am ambitious for my poems - that they should make it into the major anthologies of the next century. I want to tell the world that there is hope.

* On the Sea I Spied Him: 21 Pre-Metaphysical Poems is available from Global Ghostwriters at PO Box 1041, Newcastle NE99 2TY, priced £4.99