Wombwell Rainbow Interviews
I am honoured and privileged that the following poets, 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.
What were the circumstances under which you began to write poetry?
I was 15 years old in 9th grade home room (first period of the day, a study hall) and I wrote my first poem spontaneously. I was high on marijuana, as I was most mornings. This was in September of 1979.
Who introduced you to poetry?
I was already a Bob Dylan and a Doors fan, so Dylan and Jim Morrison were the first poets I was exposed to. I showed my first poem to my Art teacher, Hal Stacey. He told me it was a poem and gave me a copy of Richard Brautigan’s Trout Fishing in America. I started reading poetry at the library, T.S. Eliot, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, etc. I read an article in HIGH TIMES magazine about City Lights Books and the Beats and I mail ordered books by Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso. Around the same time I discovered William Blake and Arthur Rimbaud and William Carlos Williams. Read On The Road, Naked Lunch…..
How aware were you of the dominating presence of older poets?
I was aware of older poets because I started going to poetry readings. Barbara Holland was one of the first older poets who I saw read that made an impression on me.
What is your daily writing routine?
I don’t have a daily writing routine at the moment. I have at different times of my life. I write in composition notebooks. I have kept journals since I was a teenager. Most of my poems have come out of the journals. I write spontaneously and later revise or rewrite (if necessary).
What motivates you to write?
Most of my poems have come out spontaneously. Sometimes it feels more like channeling than writing. Ideas motivate me to write. I also edit a magazine and publish books by other poets. I don’t really differentiate between editing and writing. They are all part of the same thing. It is my real work (as opposed to the work I have to do in order to pay rent and live indoors). I am motivated by a sense of urgency to GET THE WORD OUT.
What is your work ethic?
I usually have a book or magazine project in the works. If I am not actually working on one, I’m thinking about the next one. Lately my day job is second shift, 4pm to midnight. On mornings that I do not take care of my son Ayler before work, I work on writing and publishing projects. (Ayler is 21 years old and has Duchene’s Muscular Dystrophy, cannot walk & uses a wheelchair. He lives with his mother.) I am lucky that I have downtime at my job and can often read up to 4 hours a shift (I work in Human Services, at a Group Home). I read poetry every day. I believe that reading poetry is as important as writing it, especially if you are a poet.
How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?
The poets I read when I was a teenager and in my 20s continue to inspire me. I still enjoy reading their poetry. WCW has been a major influence all along.
Who of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?
Most of the poets I admire most have died. Matt Borkowski and Michael Pingarron are two, who I have recently published books by. They were personal friends as well, fellow New Jersey poets. The late Bob Rixon is another NJ poet that I really admired. As far as living poets, there are so many, I wouldn’t want to leave anyone out. Look at the table of contents of Big Hammer over the years & you’ll see many recurring names. However, Joe Weil and Lamont Steptoe are two that stand out.
9. Why do you write?
Because I am driven to.
10. What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”
I would suggest that they write, find their own voice, and read a lot.
11. Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.
I am working on issue 20 of Big Hammer magazine.