Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Jacqueline Saphra

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews

I am honoured and privileged that the following writers local, national and international have agreed to be interviewed by me. I gave the writers two options: an emailed list of questions or a more fluid interview via messenger.

The usual ground is covered about motivation, daily routines and work ethic, but some surprises too. Some of these poets you may know, others may be new to you. I hope you enjoy the experience as much as I do.

Dad

Jacqueline Saphra

Jacqueline Saphra’s The Kitchen of Lovely Contraptions (flipped eye 2011) was shortlisted for the Aldeburgh First Collection Prize. If I Lay on my Back I Saw Nothing but Naked Women (The Emma Press 2014) won the Saboteur Award for Best Collaborative Work. A Bargain with the Light: Poems after Lee Miller was published by Hercules Editions in 2017. In the same year All My Mad Mothers (Nine Arches Press) was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot prize. Her most recent play, The Noises, was produced at The Old Red Lion Theatre in April 2019. Her next collection, Dad , Remember you are Dead’ will be out from Nine Arches Press in September 2019. She lives in London and teaches at The Poetry School. http://www.jacquelinesaphra.com

The Interview

1. When and why did you begin to write poetry?

My favourite books as a child were poetry books. The Oxford Book of Children’s Verse, Mother Goose, Now We are Six and When We were Very Young were big influences. I loved Edward Lear and Hilaire Belloc. I wrote at school too. In those days there were no targets to speak of and no SATs. Friends and I would disappear into a small spare room at the end of a corridor somewhere and write poems together.

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

I suppose it was my mother, who would read to me every night until I learned to read to myself. I was an insatiable reader of novels too. Certain primary school teachers were very influential too and would encourage us to write whatever poetry we wanted to as part of the school curriculum – it was considered important by those teachers to encourage us to be creative without any objective in view.

3. How aware were and are you of the dominating presence of older poets?

ha ha. I’m an older poet! I’m not sure how much older poets ‘dominate’ these days – I think that’s a bit of a myth now, although it certainly used to be the case. We can learn a lot from our ‘older’ and more experienced poets – they’ve been at it a long time. There is a dominance of youth, if anything: the new, the fresh, the young seems to get a lot more attention and often some of our more experienced and brilliant older poets are pushed into the background. If you are looking for really great poetry is a lot to be said for experience (of life and of writing). My new book does do a bit of a head to head with the male canon though because I believe that women need to reclaim the space. Being older is a real issue for women poets, who often start writing later because they’ve been bringing up families and often working at the same time but are taken less seriously and valued less than new young poets. I’ve blogged about this. https://jacquelinesaphra.wordpress.com/the-slow-game-women-poetry-and-the-cult-of-youth/

4. What is your daily writing routine?

You’re asking that question at a difficult moment. My new book is out in September and my play, The Noises has just finished its London run so I haven’t been writing much. Fallow periods are important and I have two or three projects in my mind to occupy the next couple of years.

However I normally try to show up most days in case the muse wants to visit. You have to leave the door open for her!  If the writing isn’t happening (and sometimes when it is), I read poetry or poetry criticism. In between writing, I often go the gym for an hour or two.
My other habit is to go away to a friend’s cottage in Suffolk by myself for as long as a fortnight and create my own writing retreat. I find I can work for hours I take long, thinking walks along the marshes and take my notebook with me.

5. What motivates you to write?

I just have to. I have things to communicate, things I feel strongly about. I can’t write a poem without a feeling.

6. What is your work ethic?

Mainly it’s ‘Don’t wait for inspiration to strike’. Pasteur said ‘Chance favours the prepared mind’. You can always do something. Poetry can be like practising your scales before you tackle the Beethoven Sonata. Not everything you write needs to end up in a book, or even being read by someone else. Lots of it can end up in a drawer or on your metaphorical cutting room floor. Be prepared for plenty of ‘wastage’, knowing that everything you write – especially your (many) failures are contributing to the poems that make it out into the world. Often a whole series of failed poems might be the dress rehearsals for the actual ‘performance’.

7. How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?

I’ve already mentioned AA Milne, Edward Lear, Hilaire Belloc, but I’d add to them Coleridge, Blake and of course Shakespeare. Then there was Leonard Cohen and also Bob Dylan. From them I learned about metre and rhyme – not very fashionable these days, but rhyme and metre are the historical roots of poetry and often give it a uniquely emotional effect and of course its music. In my early twenties I read may of the 60s, 70s and 80s feminist poets like Adrienne Rich, Alice Walker, Denise Levertov, Audre Lorde, Marge Piercy …  I lived in a flat with three other women and we used to read and recommend those books to each other. Those writers were formative for me because they taught me that politics with a personal perspective can be part of the poetic discourse. And of course they were women. If they could do it, why couldn’t I?

8. Who of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?

I could go on and on so here are a few (I seem to be drawn to American poets particularly) Marilyn Hacker (formal skills and great storytelling), Carol Rumens (unsung beauty) , Tony Hoagland (emotional honesty, understanding the line in free verse, use of narrative, humour), Natalie Diaz (huge emotional courage and skill to harness it), Alicia Ostriker (political, passionate and  brave), Naomi Shihab Nye (both political and humanitarian perspective), Ellen Bass (gorgeous, immediate and great storytelling).

9. Why do you write?

To communicate. Because I have to. Because I love it.

10. What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”

Read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read and write. In approximately those proportions.

11. Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.

My one-woman play, ‘The Noises’ just finished a three-week run in London after years of development. I’m gearing up to write another one, this time with more characters in it. ‘The Noises’ was accessible to visually impaired and blind people and I’m trying to incorporate access into my next script. It’s a huge creative challenge and opportunity to enrich the work.

My next book, ‘Dad, Remember you are Dead’ will be out from Nine Arches Press in September 2019.

My National Poetry Month challenge to myself has become a collaboration between synaesthetic artist Sammy-John, myself, Anjum Wasim Dar and Jay Gandhi: Day Twenty-Three: A Grandma’s Garden I

Grandma's Garden I

 

Grandma’s Garden I

My Grandmas garden was in another land
It was a land of beauty called a heaven
I believe it did not really need one more
nature had completed it to the very core
Though grandpa also loved the plants
but he loved the green vegetables more
Grandma proudly planted flowers, said
she worked hard, and had more in store.
Roses she loved the best, apples grew on
shorter trees, but many fell as soon as ripe
many were lost in winter wind’s furore-
Grandpa smiled ‘not a word’ just a snore’
Grandmas garden was loved by all
she would bring in the flowers and place
them in vases and bowls, and they too
would nod and sway and swing in view
displaying colors yellow green n purple
tulips pansies and roses in plenty
sweet scented sweet peas and apple
blossoms shaded , holy grace, amply
But time brought a drastic change
the land  was taken over by force
Grandmas garden had to be sold
Grandma cried but tried to be bold
Farewell my flowers farewell, I will
remember you for ever, where ever
I may go or be, for you gave comfort
and made me and Grandpa, happy.
2019 © CER     Anjum Wasim Dar

Front Garden

Half way up the hill a right turn up a steep drive
to a semi detached house we called “Nanna’s and Grandad’s”.

It must have been one summer Mam, Step-Dad, Sister and I
sprawl on the front lawn despite being dressed in our Sunday Best,

our hands try to gently clamp the frisky yellow Labrador puppy
we call “Sheba” who wants to explore the new smells

Mam would have us dress not to show her up
out of respect to her mam and dad,

I am surprised she doesnt lay a teatowel on the ground for us
to perch on and prevent grass stains when we have this picture taken

with the latest Kodak instamatic. Later when they can no longer cope
the grass is replaced by layers of concrete slabs and easy cut shrubs.

2019 Paul Brookes

Monostich

I copied in the Moral Science examination.

By Jay Gandhi

My National Poetry Month challenge to myself has become a collaboration between synaesthetic artist Sammy-John, myself, Anjum Wasim Dar and Jay Gandhi: Day Twenty-Two: A Rubato

Rubato

Rubato

Rubato

More than 10000 pieces of broken mirrors
are stuck together for the installation.

Some bits are dull, some are luminous,
some from the crashed wardrobes of a big shot
while others from the remains of the dashed cars.

they reflect with different intensities
but create the Large beat—

This is the same beat on which the world dances.

By Jay Gandhi

A Rubato

A book begins and ends in a garden.
A book begins and ends in delight.
See the coloured pages
scattered like pixels.

Each bird note is a colour.
Each rustle is a colour.
Sometimes a rubato
out of the usual rhythm
of this morning and evening

The garden of memory.
His rock garden reminded my late dad
of his favourite Lake District mountains.
Each page is a leaf,
each leaf an instrument
played by the gust.
Every chorus of leaves
a fresh painting of the garden.

2019 Paul Brookes

Rubato
Yellow buds tremble  quiver, as
sound waves invisibly caress
delicate tender petals, lovingly
inciting impelling rousing spurring awakening layered
Encasement to unravel transform
fold by fold, unfurl
manifest a colorful coronet
on a swaying thin stem
Balancing on thinner clasping unseen roots in the soil
listening responding blossoming
with the call-hurry
to prayer, to prayer
To salvation, to salvation
awakened to accept
the truth-
prayer is better than sleep, prayer is better than sleep

And now I shall sleep
one by one
the petals close
to a bud, to become the peaceful scented rose.
2019 © CER   Anjum Wasim Dar

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Daniel Edward Moore

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews

I am honoured and privileged that the following writers local, national and international have agreed to be interviewed by me. I gave the writers two options: an emailed list of questions or a more fluid interview via messenger.

The usual ground is covered about motivation, daily routines and work ethic, but some surprises too. Some of these poets you may know, others may be new to you. I hope you enjoy the experience as much as I do.

Daniel

Daniel Edward Moore

Daniel lives in Washington on Whidbey Island with the poet, Laura Coe Moore.
His poems have been in Spoon River Poetry Review, Columbia Journal, Cream City Review, Western Humanities Review, and others.
His poems are forthcoming in Weber Review, West Trade Review, Duende Literary Journal,
Isthmus Review, The Meadow, Bluestem Magazine, Coachella Review, Faultline, Slipstream, Barren Magazine and Jenny Magazine.
His chapbook “Boys,” is forthcoming from Duck Lake Books in February 2020.
His first book, ‘Waxing the Dents,’ was a finalist for the Brick Road Poetry Book Prize and will be released in April 2020.
His work has been nominated for Pushcart Prizes and Best of the Net.
Visit him at Danieledwardmoore.com.

The Interview

1. When and why did you begin to write poetry?

I began writing poetry in 1989 after buying a copy of Plath’s “Ariel,” at a garage sale.
I had been journaling for years, but had never been exposed to such radically honest,
and beautifully dark language that felt so cathartic. It struck something very deep in me,
giving me permission to be more human than I’d ever been before. I started wring my life into the world, one poem at a time.

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

Reading Sylvia Plath and then eventually other confessional poets like Lowell, Sexton, Berryman and the gang.  The most serious turning point occurred at a Writers Conference in the early 90’s when a Featured poet said to me that I had to read Mark Doty, because she heard how our voices resonated for her. I had no idea who he was. I took her advice and read ‘Bethlehem in Broad Daylight” and nothing was ever the same again. From that moment on every poem he wrote I hung in my mind like a piece of art on a museum wall.

3. How aware were and are you of the dominating presence of older poets?

I’m more aware of contemporary poets my own age, and the new breed of younger poets who have so much passion and beauty in their work.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

I’m up at 4:00 every morning, even on the weekends and I begin with a 20 minute mindfulness meditation. Then I check my email, finish all poetry business related work, look at my submission page, respond to my website and Facebook, and then dive into working on new drafts and do a few new submissions before heading to the office at 6:30.

5. What motivates you to write?

Too many things to list here. But mainly what I call the “Politics of Intimacy.” I’m obsessed with how people connect and break in relationship, how they are healed and broken at the very same time. For me, poetry is a gift I have to explore the realms of that place and those people, and of course the inner terrain of my life. Rarely, do I write from the outside in, most of my work is born from listening to an internal conversation and being invited to join in.

6. What is your work ethic?

To be as truthful as possible, to practice right speech, to be fearless and fierce in my work.

7. How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?

Greatly, as I said before the “Confessional Poets,” birthed me.

8. Who of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?

Carl Phillips work and voice has had the most powerful influence on my life and work.
For me, he is the purest embodiment of how flesh, language, emotional syntax, non-duality and radical courage can re-create people’s minds and hearts in a dark and suffering world.
Other poets such as Sam Sax, Louise Gluck, John Sibley Williams and Forrest Gander always inspire me to stop, pay attention and learn to serve the poem.

9. Why do you write?

Living would not be a possibility.

10. What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”

By reading other poets. By listening in silence to the sound of your thoughts.
By loving your life with words.

11. Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.

I am honoured to have two books coming out next year.
My chapbook, “Boys,” will be published by Duck Lake books in February 2020,
and my first full-length collection “Waxing the Dents,” was a finalist for the Brick Road Poetry Prize and will be released in April 2020.
I am also near completing my next poetry book, “Dear Elegy,” which will be going to some private Editors soon for its final revision stages, then hit the streets looking for a home by the first of the year hopefully.
Also, my chapbook, “Glass Animal,” which is out looking for a publisher has been getting some seriously kind responses and I anticipate it coming out soon as well.

My National Poetry Month challenge to myself has become a collaboration between synaesthetic artist Sammy-John, myself, Anjum Wasim Dar and Jay Gandhi: Day Twenty-One: Morello

Morello

Morello

Morello

When I die, call a hospital and donate me. someday, someone may see a better vision with my very eyes.

In this life I know I have been useless— at least death should be useful.

By Jay Gandhi

Morello

White plaster peels from damp walls
red plastic shot cases wobble
on gust blasted window sills
of this empty house of trouble.

You insistent we have to go,
fretted your dad would find out.
The white plaster trod on posh carpet.
The red shotcases moved about.
Need to go. Now your voice echoed
Until our voices hung in empty billows.

Its garden overgrown snapped beneath our feet
as we ran through its black rusty squeaking gate
into a stable yard and up for the rafters leap
into damp spiky haybails cracked our pates
with no vinegar and brown paper
to heal our heads and youthful fever.

2019 Paul Brookes

Morello
Not of Morello cheese or of cherries
nor of Morello gang of 107th street
nor of dollar bills printed, counterfeit
nor of Morello’s lost airship, at sea.
nor of Joe the famous Jazz drummer
nor of Tom the famous guitarist
nor of any character from TV artists
but surely of the famous Morello
special personal horse of  Lorenzo il
Magnifico, an Italian Statesman  de
facto,  a  poet prince  Italiano
Morello refused oats from any other
hand, no heel pressure no kicks or whips
but reverence bestowed,neighed and
whinnied in respectful loving return-
Noble Barbary breed, with hardy
stamina fiery temper and high speed
Magnate Lorenzo with his favorite steed
would lead the pageant , to the play
Then reciting his poem to inspire
‘to horse, to horse for frolic and fun
dance and carol on and on, everyone
enjoy the jousts play on, all the way ’.
This is the story of high spirited Morello
the favored mount of Magnificent Lorenzo’
2019  © CER      Anjum Wasim Dar

For #WorldCurlewDay and Easter my poem “Our Home”

Our Home

where the linnet calls
it breaks big white back
of winter; craggs out
grey veins dry stone walls
of territory.

Male Ring Ouzel calls,
cock Lapwings tumble,
Short Eared Owls hunt
wasteland: incomers.
birds swoop upstream bones
moved by these false springs.

Then the Curlew calls.
Spring staggers from brok
en white shells, tubers
unsteady or sharp
suck out hill’s feathered
underside.

There the Golden Plover
takes fledglings across
warming ice: snow broth
whispers down to crack
the river’s quiet
hibernating voice.

Copyright Paul Brookes, Published in South West broadsheet 1993

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Bee Parkinson – Cameron

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews

I am honoured and privileged that the following writers local, national and international have agreed to be interviewed by me. I gave the writers two options: an emailed list of questions or a more fluid interview via messenger.
The usual ground is covered about motivation, daily routines and work ethic, but some surprises too. Some of these poets you may know, others may be new to you. I hope you enjoy the experience as much as I do.

Bee Parkinson – Cameron

is a writer of poetry, short stories and plays. Bee focuses on exploring love in all its forms, the oppositions of life and death and the nature of humanity and what it means to be human. She is passionate about issues such as mental health, domestic abuse, euthanasia, abortion and human sexuality. Bee’s work has been published in several anthologies including ‘collections of poetry and prose: Love, War, Travel and Happy’, ‘the challenges of finding love’ and ‘uncovered voices’. She has also produced two plays ‘The Divine Comedy Show‘ in March 2017 and ‘The Journey Home’ a play about domestic abuse in November 2018.

Links

The Interview

1. When and why did you begin to write poetry?

I began to write poetry when I was 13 years old. It was a way for me to escape from the world that I was living in, to challenge all the negativity of the traumas of my life and the growing issue of my mental health into something productive. It also quickly became a way for me to examine the world and the concept of relationships, natural beauty and just rejoice in the freedom of bird life.

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

My dad wrote poetry and I remember some of his poems from when I was young including one about my mum being crabbit (grumpy and bad tempered). In terms of the great poets of our past, I found them through my reading at the library and school assignments. My dad also had this amazing copy of all of Shakespeare’s works that I used to read. I now own that very copy, bequeathed it by my father.

3. How aware were and are you of the dominating presence of older poets?

I am acutely aware of the poetry of the past ranging all the way from Homer through to Dante to Wordsworth, D.H. Lawrence, Sylvia Plath and Carol Ann Duffy. These people came before us and we need to respect and appreciate the work that they did and the impact that this has on all of us. My writing style has been influenced by some of what I have read across the years.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

I write my dreams down in a diary and I write a few words here and there. Sometimes I get snatches of lines in my head and I write them down on pretty much anything. If I don’t write, I plan what I’m going to write instead.

5. What motivates you to write?

Being perfectly honest? I write because to live without writing is something that my soul couldn’t stand. It’s in my blood to write, my grandfather is a writer, my father is a writer and it’s as much a part of me as my eyes or my fingers.

I am inspired by many things and regularly write when I visit places and encounter new people or new situations. I write about concepts such as love and death and freedom. I am also motivated to write by my own experiences, both good and bad, and I write in the hope that I will help influence social change and that my words will be able to help someone else get through the hard times in their life. If I can make it through, then I know you can.

6. What is your work ethic?

I am prone to procrastination sometimes, ‘procrastination for the nation’ as I dubbed it in my younger years. When my motivation is there and present, my work ethic is exceptionally strong to the point where I regularly forsake drinking and eating and other such things. Thankfully, I have a fantastic husband and a best friend who annoys me into eating.

7. How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?

Sometimes I don’t even notice the influence that other writers have had on me until either someone points it out or I look back and I begin to notice it myself. Some of my concepts have been influenced by people such as W.H. Auden and D.H. Lawrence. Moving away from poetry, I cannot deny the influence of J.K Rowling as I grew up with the Harry Potter books and of Anne Rice with her almost sensual and erotic style of writing in the Vampire Chronicles (The Vampire Armand being my favourite).

8. Who of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?

Stephen King. Without a doubt a complete Master of his genre. I have never experienced horror like it before, not even reading Lovecraft or Stoker’s Dracula. Stephen crafts his stories like an artist crafts a painting and completely captivates the mind and the soul.

Karin Slaughter’s stories are amazing and her descriptions so graphic and so true (particularly ‘The Good Daughter’).

Robert Harris reawakened a love within me for Roman History, demonstrating such a strong commitment to crafting a story but paying such close attention to the source material and bringing to life a character from centuries ago whose voice still speaks to us now.

9. Why do you write?

I write because if I did not write, I could not live
I write because if I did not write, I could not dream.
If I did not write then I would not thrive
If I did not write then I would not survive.

Every piece of my writing contains a piece of me, an expression of my soul.
10. What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”

You become a writer by picking up that pen and writing whatever comes into your mind. You become a writer when you push that fear away, the dark whisper in your mind that tells you that you can’t do it, when you pour your heart and your soul into crafting a story or writing a verse and you stop worrying about what the world will think or your family will think, you just do it.

11. Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.

I am currently in the process of trying to gather funds together to self-publish my very positively received play based on my own experiences of domestic abuse. A newly set up independent company was going to publish it however the printer they used went into administration so I’m now trying to find another way for the play to continue on and for the story to continue to inspire hope and raise awareness.

I am also revising my first stage play ‘The Divine Comedy Show Part 1’ and finishing Part 2. I am also starting to go through the back catalogue of my poetry to select pieces for a small collection in the future.