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.
Claire Dyer is a novelist and poet who likes love stories and cheese.
Her latest novel, ‘The Last Day’ is published by The Dome Press. Her previous novels, ‘The Moment’ and ‘The Perfect Affair’ and her FREE short story is ‘Falling for Gatsby’ are published by Quercus. Her poetry collections, ‘Interference Effects’ and ‘Eleven Rooms’ are published by Two Rivers Press.
Claire has an MA in Creative Writing from Royal Holloway, University of London which means she now has Three Degrees so all she needs is to be able to sing in tune and wear sequins without looking foolish!
Her website is: http://www.clairedyer.com
1. What inspired you to write poetry?
I’m not sure. It just kind of happened. I wrote some poems when I was a girl that my family seemed to like and so poetry became my go-to place to express myself. There were, naturally, some awful poems in my teenage and student years but the more I read of others’ work, the more I learned!
2. Who introduced you to poetry?
My English teacher at school. I remember we were studying a poem and the whole class thought it was about falling asleep. The teacher told us it was about dying and I got quite cross because I believed poetry should be allowed to have multiple meanings and resonate on different levels to different people. I therefore now think poetry is a gift, ie. something a poet gifts to a reader and says, ‘This is what I want to say about this subject, but it’s up to you how to interpret it.’
3. How aware were you of the dominating presence of older poets?
Very. I was extremely taken with the Romantic poets at school, particularly Keats, but then I found a copy of ‘The Mersey Sound’ in the school library and realised that poetry came in many different shapes and sizes. It was a revelation!
4. What is your daily writing routine?
I don’t have one! Every day is different depending on what my diary commitments look like. I teach creative writing, run an editorial and critiquing business, curate a monthly poetry event in Reading and write novels as well as poetry. I do try to plan my week to give myself some blocks of writing time but poems tend to come when you’re not looking and so I normally find myself at my keyboard when I should be cooking dinner!
5. What motivates you to write?
Feelings, experiences, being set homework by my poetry class or being commissioned to write a poem for certain occasion/campaign.
6. What is your work ethic?
Ooh, that’s a tricky one! In my novel-writing life the motivation is to get published. I have an amazing agent and together we will work on a manuscript until it’s honed and ready for submission to a publisher. In my poetry-writing life it’s a bit different. The poems come, I work on them for weeks or maybe months and then I may submit them to a competition or a magazine or I may just keep them close and not let them out of the door!
7. How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?
Greatly. I think everything we read gets stored away somewhere and makes us the writers and readers we are today, seeping through into our phrasing, word choice, sense of rhythm, etc.
8. Who of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?
Another tricky question! There are so many, probably too many to mention. I keep up to date with the shortlists for The Forward and the TS Eliot prizes and am interested in how they may be seen to be pushing boundaries, saying something different or adhering to traditional forms and material. But, just as importantly, are the poems that get produced in workshops or that I hear at readings and book launches, ones by poets who say, ‘This is me. I am here.’
9. Why do you write?
Because I have to. It’s how I make sense of the world. If it doesn’t sound too pretentious I ‘see’ in poems and use them to marshal my thoughts and reactions. They are also like a puzzle, getting the right pieces in the right order to make some sort of sense. When I write novels, it’s my characters who drive the stories forward, they stamp their feet inside my head! When I write poems, it’s often a phrase or a line or just an image flashing across my mind that I want to try to pin down.
10. What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”
Practice. I liken writing to throwing pots. You don’t expect to sit at a potter’s wheel and throw the perfect pot the first time. So it is with writing, you need to practise, hone your craft, learn from others, seek advice, take risks, keep believing.
11. Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.
I currently have a novel out on submission and another with my agent for review and I’m working on a collection of poems I hope may be published in 2021.