Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Adam Levon Brown

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.

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Adam Levon Brown

Adam Levon Brown is an internationally published author, poet, amateur photographer, and cat lover who identifies as Queer and is neurodivergent. He is Founder, Owner, and editor in chief of Madness Muse Press. He has had poetry published hundreds of times in several languages, along with 2 full collections and 3 chapbooks. Anti-imperialist, peacenik with a love for books, when not tripping on his own musings, he enjoys reading fiction. He also participates as an assistant editor at Caravel Literary Arts Journal and is Founder, Owner, Editor-In-Chief of Madness Muse Press LLC
He has been published with publications such as Burningword Literary Journal, Firefly Magazine, and FIVE:2:ONE

He has three collections of poetry;

Musings of a Madman (Creative Talents Unleashed, 2015)
Cadence of Cupid (Creative Talents Unleashed, 2016)
Death is not our Holy Word (Alien Buddha Press)

He has two chapbooks;

“Loco”motion of Life (Alien Buddha Press, 2017)

“Embedded Memories of a Shooting Star ( Transcendent Zero Press, 2017)

He also has a title forthcoming from Moran Press (Chasing Sanity at 7:30 PM)

The Interview

1. What inspired you  to write poetry?

First of all, Let me say, thank you so much to Paul Brookes for this opportunity to be interviewed. It’s an honor and privilege to share my words with others, and to be interviewed about something I enjoy doing.

The first time I heard about poetry was from an ex-girlfriend I met online in 2004.
I looked at her poetry and thought, wow, this is something I may be able to do someday.
I put it off my mind for awhile. 1 year later, and I got the itch to start looking up poetry online to find deeper meaning. I found Edgar Allen Poe, Lord Byron, and the darker side of the poetic genres. I was instantly attached due to my fascination with the occult in my teen years. I began writing my first poems, which were long, full of rhyme, and very dark. It was my first experience with catharsis, as my home life was full of mental illness and substance abuse. I began writing small poems from there and putting them on Myspace for my friends to read.

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

I’d have to say my ex-girlfriend. I won’t name her here, as she is still part of my muse, and I keep my muse secretive.

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

At the time, I had no idea of other poets, nor was part of an online community until 2014.
I just did most of my writing as catharsis. I’d always been in love with reading, especially darker material, as I found it relateable.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

I usually wake up and write a poem in the morning if my Muse is speaking, if not, I just continue my day and don’t think about it much. If I don’t get one in the morning, I usually put one together at night. Though, I’m almost always stringing words and thinking of ways to phrase idioms in different ways.

5. What motivates you to write?

I need Poetry for catharsis. Some people watch football or watch comedy central to unwind after long days. I put my time into writing poems to release deep thought and feelings which go unheard of in daily life. There’s also some vanity involved, as I am a dreamer, and want to share myself with my friends, family, and whoevere else cares to listen. It’s also a type of journaling for me, to document my thoughts and feelings.

6. What is your work ethic?

If I write a poem, and I really like it, think it’s good; I’ll usually start thinking, new chapbook. I’ve been focusing on getting chapbooks published for a good 2 years now and have 4 published so far.

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

Edgar Allan Poe and Lord Byron influence me to this day. Being  mentally ill, I am inspired by the mad ramblings of these poets and their poetry about living with a disease I share with them in common.

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

Lately, I’ve been inspired by the stage poets. Andrea Gibson, Neil Hilborn, Dante Collins etc.
Though I find much inspiration from my facebook poetry friends, including Robert Wilson, Scott Thomas Outlar, and Nanette Wakefield.

8.1.
and why?

I don’t have many friends outside of Facebook. It’s good to stay connected, and the poets I describe all struggle with some form of pain. I relate to it, and it’s good to be on the same wavelength/share common interests, and inspire each other throughout poetic endeavors in this deluge known as life.

9. Why do you write?

I write mainly for catharsis, and for the silly dream that someday my work may get noticed by agents and/or big publishers. I also write because it’s fun, and have a love for words.

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

I would say, think about the things in your life that are bothering you most. Find some time from daily life and start writing about them in any way, shape, or form. Just let it out, and if bold enough, share it. I’ve often found through sharing our personal stories, that I am definitely not alone, and there are many people out there who will relate to your story and support you. It’s a way of breaking away from isolation and believe it or not, can inspire people to begin writing too.

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

As of now, I have a chapbook coming out later this year, titled, “Chasing Sanity at 7:30 PM”
which deals with love, loss, and the fragility of life. This book is being released by Moran Press.

I also just finished a personal book detailing my life as it is now. It’s about mental illness/health, overcoming barriers, and finding my way in this thing called life.

It has been accepted by one publisher, but I’m waiting to see the results of other publishers who may also be interested.

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews:  Carol Fenwick who publishes as Geraldine Ward

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.
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Carol Fenwick who publishes as Geraldine Ward

Geraldine Ward is a mother, poet and author from Kent. She has had work published in magazines including The Blue Nib, Writers Café Magazine and I am not a silent poet. She is currently learning to play ukulele. You will find more of her writing on http://www.geraldineward.wo­rdpress.com Her twitter account is @GWardAuthor and facebook page is http://www.facebook.com/­geraldine.ward.uk

Geraldine Ward
geraldineward.wordpress.com

The Interview

What inspired you to write poetry?

When I was a teenager I went through a difficult time with being bullied. It came to a head when I was eighteen and suddenly though I had only really written stories as a child and a teenager lots of poetry came out. I have barely stopped writing it since.

I have always enjoyed reading and writing too which is a big motivator and passion.

What do you enjoy about reading and writing?

I enjoy getting into imaginary worlds. I have been told I have a really good imagination. Though the more I have developed as a reader and writer I have increasingly made social and realistic observations which adds visceralness. This was helped when I studied my MA in Creative Writing at Teesside in 2009 where I learnt much more about going beyond the abstract to the concrete.

And I love playing with language and the sound and music of words.

It’s a long time ago so it’s hard to recall but I remember being introduced to Rosemary Sutcliff and the Eagle of the Ninth I really loved the historical fiction.

Is history an important theme in your poetry?

Sometimes but I cover a wide range of subjects and feelings in my poetry. Humour, serious, history, what’s happening now. I recently visited The Lakes on holiday so history came in when I visited where John Ruskin had his memorial stone and Dove Cottage where Wordsworth lived and I wrote a couple of poems about it.

History was a big passion growing up. I also am interested in current affairs although no expert I like to touch on current affairs at times and make points about anything I feel is unjust.

How aware are you of the dominating presence of older poets, historical and contemporary?

I have a lot of respect for poets who have come before me whether older, historical or contemporary. I enjoy the work of the romantic poets for example as much as I like and read today’s famous and not yet famous writers. Some of my favourite poets are Sylvia Plath, Frank O Hara and William Wordsworth. But I also enjoy today’s writers too. Like the comedy poems of Pam Ayres, have a collection by Kate Fox which is similarly humorous and I regularly purchase books off friends who are poets such as Deborah Alma, Sarah L Dixon, Gill Lambert and just today Jess Mookherjee to name a few.

What is your daily writing routine?

I find I can only write after I have got everything I need doing done in the house. So once housework is out of the way and odds and ends then I am able to write. If I try doing it any other way I come a cropper.

What motivates you to write?

The need to express a feeling of otherness and anguish in a way as a way of dealing with the world. Also I believe that I have a valid voice that needs to be heard and a skill that I should not hide.

What is your work ethic?

I think it’s important to work hard, when you don’t you get unstuck if you do too much that’s not good either. I have been guilty of both sins. A good balance which is where I am now between work and pleasure I think is important.

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

I think they inspired a lot of imagination in me. Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton were big favourites of mine as a child. They made me want to read and write more and allowed me to be dreamy and enabled me to be influenced positively in terms of creating imaginative language.

They also encouraged me to believe what was possible if you put your mind and skills and imagination together with everything else, senses viscerality, etc that you can come up with magic.

Magic on paper that is!

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

Phillip Pullman probably. He doesn’t have the same level of success that JK Rowling has had but he is a brilliant fantasy writer for children and adults. I would argue in some ways better but that is my personal taste.

And I love his rich use of language.

Rich use of language?

Yes I like the way he writes.

How does he make his language rich?

Oh my goodness, I like his descriptions. His fantasy texts are more detailed and richer than I think his adult texts of what I have read which are more immediate.

Why do you write?

Mainly because I enjoy it, for myself and to share with others.

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

I would say read a lot, write a lot and live and enjoy your experiences of life.

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

I have been writing a poetry book called Bouncing Back with a Bang which has just recently come out on Amazon. It is due to have a blog tour in November run by Anne Cater and reviewed by other bloggers. I regularly read poetry at open mics as well as sing in folk clubs, play ukulele and piano. I will be performing a slot of writing and music at a local garden party in Kent on Saturday. Other than that I fairly regularly submit poetry to journals and magazines. I have a young adult novel I have been working on for a while but have put on the back burner as working on a research proposal for a PHD so I am very busy.

I write under a pseudonym Geraldine Ward.

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Helen Laycock

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.

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Helen Laycock

Most recently, Helen Laycock’s poetry has appeared in Popshot, The Caterpillar, Full Moon and Foxglove (Three Drops Press) and Poems for Grenfell (Onslaught). Her poems appear in several further anthologies, and, since winning the David St. John Writing Award for Novice Poetry in 2006, her work has been acknowledged in many competitions. She was one of the lead writers in June for Visual Verse.
Helen also writes flash fiction and has been featured in The Best of CafeLit 3, 4, 5 & 6.
Her short stories have been successful in writing competitions, publication including An Earthless Melting Pot (Quinn), and her first attempt at play-writing secured her a shortlisting in Pint-Sized Plays.
Helen has compiled three short story collections for adults and has written eight children’s books for 8-12-year-olds.
These books can be found on her Amazon Author Page

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Helen-Laycock/e/B006PGFVL6
Humorous poetry has been published on Spilling Cocoa Over Martin Amis. Two collections of funny verse are available, one each for children and adults.

She has two websites where you can find out more about the range of writing:
Helen Laycock | Fiction in a Flash
https://helenlaycock.wixsite.com/fiction-in-a-flash

Helen Laycock | Children’s Author https://helenlaycock.wixsite.com/helen-laycock

Other links:
Facebook https://m.facebook.com/helenlaycockauthor/
Blog: Catching Cotton Clouds
https://catchingcottonclouds.wordpress.com/

Twitter: @helen_laycock https://mobile.twitter.com/helen_laycock

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The Interview

1. As with most poets, I suppose primary school was where ‘it’ first happened. Creative writing sessions were few and far between and mainly involved writing stories; more rarely poetry was suggested. Understandable really, as we didn’t ever read it! At that time, my sole approach to poetry was to write four to six stanzas of rhyme, a formula which I’d probably learned from nursery rhymes or my Rupert annual. It was something I dashed off without too much thought at all, trite sentiments or simple tales peppered with many a forced rhyme. Poetry was never taught as a discipline, but now I understand how complex writing poetry can be, that makes sense.

2. At secondary school, I had a fabulous English teacher in my first year, Mr Gronow. He actually got us to listen to the sounds that poetry makes and to understand how rhythm, silence and space each contribute to the overall effect. He took me out of my comfort zone when he asked me to leave out what he called ‘redundant’ words, i.e. monotonous every day words which, when used in a poem tend to muffle and veil any wonderful images which exist alongside them. I also learned that poetry didn’t HAVE to rhyme. What a revelation!

I began to write for pleasure, not because a teacher had instructed it. I wrote a lot of poetry for my mum. I suppose it was a kind of love poetry to let her know how treasured she was.

By the time I was in sixth form, I had made many contributions to the school magazine, and had won lots of in-school competitions. My A level English teacher picked up on my writing and asked me to put it all together in a folder. Something in it must have stirred something in her as, unbeknown to me, she took it to an English lecturer who she knew and asked him to look at it. When she handed it back, there was a handwritten report inside from her friend. When I read it, I almost burst with pride. It was loaded with praise and mentioned ‘incredible talent’. That was the first moment I realised that maybe I could do something special.

I also took an A level in French. Practical criticism of French poetry was on the syllabus, which I adored. My French teacher was fabulous at drawing our attention to metaphor and meaning.

3. I had no idea as a young teen that poets could be youthful, modern, or even living… I assumed that they were all dead and had had dusty lives scribbling archaic messages with quills. I went on to study English at university, and then the world of poetry really opened out. Yes, we studied many dead poets, but I realised that they did have something to say, and could say it in a wonderful way. I thoroughly enjoyed Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience, for example, as commentary on society. I was introduced to Sylvia Plath and realised how creativity is also an outlet for angst and emotion.

Although it is something which poets probably don’t much like having done to their work, my absolute passion was analysing poetry, taking it to pieces to see why it worked, and in retrospect, I think that this process was invaluable to my growing understanding of technique.
4. I don’t just write poetry. My repertoire includes flash fiction, short stories, plays and children’s novels. I also blog intermittently and have just finished a writing job where I produced creative texts for an educational revision guide. My routine varies, depending on what I have turned my attention to.

Every month I try to produce something for a wonderful website called Visual Verse where the challenge is to produce 50 – 500 words within an hour. It can be poetry or flash, and the inspiration is an image. I would say that most of my work on this website has been poetry. To have such a time limitation is a challenge, but I also think it has sharpened my skills. If I was writing a poem for a competition or publication, I would take a lot longer, coming back to it over a series of days, reading it aloud, highlighting a line or a word which doesn’t quite work. I like to have the online thesaurus at hand as well as a website called RhymeZone (I haven’t dispensed entirely with rhyme. An internal rhyme can work a treat!).

Stories usually take a few days to perfect, too, but I seem to be able to produce flash ‘in a flash’!

I work best during the mornings, and generally keep going until my brain goes blank. If I’m writing a novel, it perpetually occupies my headspace. I sometimes write all day and carry on well into the early hours.

I talk about my writing-related news on my Facebook Author Page.

5. If I have an idea, I HAVE to write, even though at the time I might have no idea what I will do with it. Otherwise, I write for the challenge of publication, or as a competition entry, or for audience. Ultimately, any writer (I imagine) would like their words to be enjoyed, to create an impact in another person, to stir emotion, to raise a chuckle, to bring out a tear…

6. I am a perfectionist. I edit, edit, edit. I would hate for anything to go out into the world which wasn’t my best. I always try to produce the highest quality of writing that I can.

7. I was an avid Enid Blyton fan as a child. I devoured everything she wrote. The idea that unaccompanied children could have adventures and solve mysteries has certainly coloured my own writing for children.

8. I admire writers like Donna Tartt, whose writing is impeccable and intelligent, and Linwood Barclay, who reels in the reader from the first line and doesn’t let them go until the final climax, Rachel Joyce, for recognising and portraying what is deeply inside people and James Heriot, who always made me laugh. I enjoy the poetry of Simon Armitage amongst many, many others.

9. I write because I have something to say. I love the construction of poetry, building it with the finest materials I can find. I enjoy telling a complete tale in flash of 100 words. I delight in the creation and interaction of characters in a short story and to be allowed to create and populate an entire fictional world in a book where anything can happen is an utter privilege. I write because it is self-indulgent and exciting.

10. To become a writer, you have to:
a) learn the craft of using the best words;
b) open your mind to unique ideas.
This doesn’t always happen simultaneously, and you may well need to work on one aspect more than the other. Practise making writing seamless; the reader should be pulled in to the extent that they are unaware of the print on the page. Dialogue should be authentic. Listen to how people speak. Note characteristics that make people individual. Be an observer.
Obviously, a great grasp of grammar is important, and a wide vocabulary, both of which will improve the more you read. As with any creative skill, the more you practise, the better you will become. Feedback is very important, too. It tells you if you’ve got it right.

11. I feel as though I am pulling back on the elastic of a catapult right now. As soon as I let go, several projects will be launched into the world: a new humorous children’s book is ready to go and three short story collections are almost completed. I also have lots (and lots) of Post-It notes stuck all around my computer with many other reminders of things I want to do…

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Jay Miner

F WORD WARNING

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.

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Jay Miner

The Interview

1. What were the circumstances under which you began to write poetry?

When I started writing I started by writing fiction. This was right after I graduated high school and started college. At some point in college I took one creative writing class which was largely a waste of time. However, I met a few kindred spirits in that class that decided to start a print lit ‘zine with me and through that process and around that time I started delving into poetry. I think some of the more underground poets that I was exposed to around that time as well as Bukowski and the beats showed me that poetry didn’t have to be what most people think it is – rhyming and all flowery and nice. I began to appreciate the fact that I found this outlet for quick bursts of energy, intensity, anger, sarcasm, etc., etc.

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

As I addressed in the first question, I was always aware of poetry, but there was a time when I had the wrong idea about it. It wasn’t until I met some underground poets and was exposed to a lot of the writers of the beat generation that I came to understand poetry as I understand it now.

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

Very aware. I was a big fan of the beat poets and other poets of that generation. Even though he wrote mostly prose, William S. Burroughs had a large influence on me, maybe more than anyone else. Just the way he bent language and tossed it around like a fucking rag doll. He didn’t give a fuck about the rules. He was very risqué with his subject material and the way he presented it and I really dug that about him. It really opened my mind a lot and changed the way I see writing as well as the world around me. I think some writers can clean the lens of your third eye just as well if not better than a handful of magic mushrooms.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

It varies and depends on the circumstances. Right now I am working on a Novella. Most of it is already written by hand. When I was writing it by hand I had just one rule: write at least a page a day. I usually did much more than that though. Now that I am typing it and editing as I go I try to do it in instalments throughout the day. I find that if it gets too tedious that I can lose some enthusiasm and energy and that will have a negative effect on the writing. So, I am trying to hit it hard and in short bursts: once early in the morning, once toward the end of the day and as many short sessions throughout the day as I can. Once I start losing steam or focus I like to let it lay and simmer for awhile and then come back to it fresh.

5. What motivates you to write?

I enjoy the entire process. You’re creating something from scratch for yourself and others to hopefully enjoy. It’s not unlike a mad scientist in his lab or a chef in the kitchen. But I don’t write flowery horseshit to appease the masses of Pollyanna. I like trying to get under peoples’ skin so when I do get a reaction positive or negative that’s a bonus. I don’t mind pissing people off in fact I rather enjoy it, but when I can find kindred spirits who are into my stuff I enjoy that as well. Mostly I do it for myself. It’s a great outlet.

6. What is your work ethic?

I’m a pretty driven person so my work ethic in general is strong and my approach to writing is no different. However, I would also say that sometimes no matter how bad you want to write sometimes you have to know when to step away and regroup. If nothing is coming or I feel like I’m writing a bunch of garbage I’d rather not write at all than try to force it.

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

Burroughs and others from his generation showed me how to let loose and not worry too much about rules or structure and to be open to some pretty bizarre ideas and imagery. A lot of those folks also influenced me to this day with regards to the sound of language in my head. Something may not necessarily make a lot of sense but when I read it back to myself it might have a good ring to it, almost like song lyrics. If that’s the case I’ll often go with it. Just ranting and raving. Diarrhoea of the mouth. It’s how I came up with the term “Alien Buddha.” I had no clue what it meant I just know it sounded cool as fuck to me.

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

There are too many to mention by name, but one thing I can tell you is that most of them are not very well known unfortunately, hopefully at some point that will change for some of them. Certainly there are some good writers with big balls that break through from time to time but I feel like most of the ones that are out there making a big name for themselves are pandering to the average middle to upper class suburbanite slob at airport bookstores and most of what they are pumping out is slop that I wouldn’t line my birdcage with if I had one. One of the benefits of doing Alien Buddha Press and our Facebook group is it’s exposed me to a lot of talented people whose work I admire very much. A lot of good writers and they are writing from the heart. These people are making little to no money and they’re still doing it and will continue to do so because they feel compelled to do so and are passionate about it and I really respect and admire that a lot. Most of the lightweights that I addressed in the beginning of this paragraph would tuck their tails and run away crying if they weren’t famous or well paid anymore. Fuck them. God bless the goddamn underground.

9. Why do you write?

I enjoy it, it can be very cathartic. I enjoy building something of my own from scratch and then showing it to others and seeing their reaction.

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

I would tell them to go write something down on a piece of paper and to stop asking me stupid questions.

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

Right now my main focus is finishing this novella that I am currently working on. It’s a pretty twisted tale of a bunch of drug addled cannibal freaks who find themselves among some of the last beings on the planet after an apocalyptic event and their struggle for survival. I already have two more ideas for after that that I haven’t begun working on yet, but I may soon if I need a break at times from the tedium of working on my main current project. One is a third person fiction piece about an amish guy who incurs brain damage and ends up in a psych ward after being hit by lightning and starts to travel the country hacking people up with a machete. Very romantic. The other is an idea I have for a semi-autobiographical story although I may tell it in the third person. Basically, it would detail a lot of the seedier and more painful details of my past especially with regards to struggling with a chemical dependency and some of the crazier shit I got into in Las Vegas as a result of that. Lastly, I am strongly considering putting out a compilation of sorts in the very near future. It would include a re-release of my novelette Bulls in a China Shop along with some old previously unreleased short stories and poems as well as some new stuff. Also, since I like to mess around a lot with photography that would give me the chance to throw some of my photographic work in there too.

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Rob Cullen

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.

uncertain times wrap[97044]

Rob Cullen

Rob Cullen studied at Bristol and Cardiff art colleges (1969 to 1973 respectively), lived in New York and Brighton returning to South Wales in 1982. For 37 years he worked with severely damaged and damaging individuals. For the latter 9 years of his career he was an Expert to the Family & Criminal Courts and Higher Courts. He retired in 2012 after suffering severe depression and PTSD.
In 2013 Rob returned to his arts background focussing on writing and photography.
• His short story The Choice was published in the anthology A Fall into Grace. This project involved a day of storytelling in the town of Aberdare in which each writer performed the story at different venues around the town. The anthology was published on 16th December 2015 with a launch at the National Folk Museum of Wales in St Fagans.
• Rob’s first poetry collection “Uncertain Times” was published by Octavo (Accent) in 2016.
• Rob had four short stories published in Ystrad Stories another community project related to the artist Ernie Zobole.
• Rob has completed a psychological novel awaiting publication “Under the Stone Eyes of Mary”.
• Rob is working on a second novel “Imaginary Beaches”.
• Rob’s poetry has been published in the online magazines I am not a silent poet, The Learned Pig, TheBezine, and 2017 & 2018 editions of Red Poets magazine.
• In 2017 Rob collaborated with the artist Jon Pountney on a short film “Beachcombing” exploring the foreshore of Cardiff Bay. Rob’s provided poetry and the voice over for the film which was shown in an exhibition at Oriel Conwy August 2017.
• Rob is looking to publish a second poetry collection “Notes from a small garden”.
Rob has organised “Voices on The Bridge” spoken word and music events in Pontypridd Museum since 2016. He read at Walls: Muriau Welsh Mental Health Arts Festival at the Millennia Centre Cardiff 2016. He read with the Red Poets in the Indyfest, Womanby Street, Cardiff 2017 & Merthyr Rising 2018. He also regularly reads in open mics The Imp, Merthyr Tydfil & The Capel, Bargoed.
http://www.robcullenauthor@wordpress.com
robcullen@celfypridd.co.uk
voicesonthebridge@wordpress.com

The Interview

1. What inspired you  to write poetry?

Song writing and understanding the connectedness between song and poetry.

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

Initially Grammar School.

Reading Yeats aged 12 in school. Growing up in Wales I was aware of Dylan Thomas (winning competition for the cover of a programme for a production of Under Milk Wood). Didn’t like his poetry much. Art College and art history 1969 led to Surrealism and introduction to French Poetry Rimbaud, Paul Valery poetry of Russsia – Pasternak, Block and Achmaktova etc and then Garcia Lorca and thence to  Zen Japan and Haiku. And back again to Heaney.

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

Dylan Thomas, and Louis McNeice/Auden and the War Poets. I was averse to them Ted Hughes above all.
More positively  Imagists and Ezra Pound (Gaudier Breska)  came later. Heaney and early Irish writers, Gary Snyder. Octavio Paz. Federico Garcia Lorca profound interest. R S Thomas. Apollinaire, Neruda and Cernuda.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

Prose writing two hours or two thousand words between 9 and 12.
7 mile walk with notebook and pencil. Return to house and in the evening write.

5. What motivates you to write?

I’ve been artistic since I was very young – visual art which migrated into writing short stories.
My observations through a day over a week. Natural world/an acre garden – social wrongs. Overheard conversations. The influence of a visual art training is never far away – so describing a vista.

6. What is your work ethic?

Its just there. Something I do and can’t imagine anything else.

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

I reread them frequently – return to the familiarity of their voices.

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

Gillian Clarke. Christina Thatcher.

9. Why do you write?

It’s part of me of  my creative being. Somethings have to be said and read aloud.

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

Write at any opportunity wherever you are with a pencil and a hard back good  sized notebook. A4. Just write and read aloud.

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

Getting a second collection of poetry published – lots of rejection but heartened by a request for a copy to be placed with the Federico Garcia Lorca Foundation Library after they read my tribute poem to Lorca.

Getting a Psychological novel published.
Completing a second novel. (almost cooked).
Compiling a book of short stories.
Compiling a third collection of poetry.

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Becky Cherriman

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.

Becky Cherriman

Becky Cherriman is a writer, performer and workshop leader based in Yorkshire.

Becky’s first poetry collection “Empires of Clay” was published in November 2016 by Cinnamon Press. Her poetry pamphlet “Echolocation” published by Mother’s Milk in February 2016 was longlisted in the Saboteur Awards 2016.

Becky has written short stories and poetry for commission, performance and publication and was shortlisted in the 2009/10 Fish Short Story Prize. Successes include second prize in the Ilkley Literature Festival Open Mic for Paisley Quilt and first prize in the Speakeasy Open for her poem Namesake. Her poetry has been published by Mslexia, New Walk, Envoi, Mother’s Milk, Bloodaxe, Well Versed, Seren and in “Poets For Corbyn” and “Yorkshire Poetry Anthology”. It has manifested on umbrellas, on the walls of a recording studio, in libretto form and in Italian translation.

Becky was resident poet for Morley Literature Festival in 2013 and lead artist for Altofts Festival In A Day 2016. She is co-writer and performer of Haunt, a site-specific theatre commission for Imove, a project about homelessness that featured material from her, as yet, unpublished first novel.

Much of her time is dedicated to other people’s writing, running creative writing and combined arts workshops with different groups across Yorkshire – a job she adores. http://www.beckycherriman.com/

The Interview

1. What were the circumstances under which you began to write poetry?

As a teenager I had a tough time and began writing poetry as a way of dealing with what was happening to me and to articulate my understanding of the world. Looking back on those early notebooks and the rawness of the poetry on the pages makes me cringe. Still, at least my handwriting was neat! The more crafted my work becomes, the more untidy the writing of early drafts becomes. I wonder if this says anything about creativity more generally or whether it’s just me.

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

Like most people I was introduced to poetry at school. I was lucky in that I had teachers who were passionate about creative writing and encouraged me. My mum went to uni as a mature student and when I was 18 she met her long-term partner who is a big lover of literature. At every spare moment I delved into all the anthologies and collections they had lying around the house and lost myself in them.

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

As an early teen not much! My upper school English teacher didn’t exactly manage to infuse a love of poetry into me or my classmates but in my late teens I started reading more independently. I moved town and, with my new school, I attended an Arvon Foundation Course with Carol Ann Duffy and Liz Lochhead. At the time I was reading philosophy and experimenting with writing surrealistic poetry, which probably didn’t make much sense! Duffy hated it and pretty much told me so in my one-to-one. She said that every line and word of a poem should make immediate sense to the reader. I still don’t agree with her on this – sometimes the best poems are those you need to puzzle over and I’m a big fan of deliberate, considered ambiguity. But it did make me consider the issue of accessibility in my work, a question that is still not satisfactorily resolved for me.

Through English A level (in which I only attained a D due to illness), I discovered Renaissance poetry like Shakespeare’s sonnets, John Donne and Andrew Marvell – I loved their wit and enjoyed T.S. Eliot but it was Dylan Thomas who I fell in love with. It was the lyrical way he used language, his imagery and those big themes of death and growing up and religion. My teacher introduced me to the term pantheism and there was a huge aha moment when I realised she’d named my understanding of ‘god’ although I’d be more likely to use panpsychism or panexperientialism now. I suppose I found my spirituality through poetry and the two have remained inextricably linked. So yes, I was aware of older poets but I found them stimulating and inspiring rather than oppressive.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

I’m always bleating on to workshop participants about how important a writing routine is but I haven’t always been good at keeping to one myself. Most of my living is made from running workshops either as a self-employed writer or in my small role at the University of Leeds as Creative Writing Community Development Officer. There is a lot of planning and reflection involved in this work and an increasing amount of admin and I also have chronic illnesses and some caring responsibilities so I don’t always have the time or the creative energy to write daily. Having said that, last year I set myself the target of writing for an hour daily first thing in the morning and trying to set half days aside for writing when I can. I’ve slipped a little the last couple of weeks but, despite being as busy as ever, I’ve had a very productive year with my writing and I put this down to the regularity.

5. What motivates you to write?

Injustice. Nature. How people relate to one another. Humanism. An inner compulsion. Frustration.

Sadness. Anger. Wonder. Passion. Ideas. Things I don’t yet understand.

6. What is your work ethic?

Throw yourself into everything you do and always go the extra mile for those you work with if you can. Be diligent in everything. Like water you flow into every available channel but sometimes this results in you drying up. You know you should rest more but find that hard when there is so much incredible and exciting work to be involved with.

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

When I was 13 I read Oliver Sacks, The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat, Eric Berne’s Games People Play and The White Hotel by D.M. Thomas. As well as the poets mentioned above, I also read the Brontes and Plath and all the science fiction and horror stories in Eccleshill Library.

I could talk about how I think they or the books I read in my English degree might have influenced me. But instead I’m going to answer you with a quote from Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. ‘No longer take things at second or third hand nor look through the eyes of the dead nor feed on the spectres in books. You shall not look through my eyes either nor take things from me, you shall listen to all sides and filter them from yourself.’

I’m loathe to identify the precise points of influence because I think that would be disingenuous to my usual process, which is more akin to what Whitman suggests, a kind of creative homeopathy which is free, at least measurably, of the original substance and yet infused by it. Necessarily so perhaps because my memory doesn’t keep hold of precise wordings effectively. I realise that referencing the suspect science of homeopathy is risky but that doesn’t make it less true.

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

This is always my least favourite question in interviews. There are so many. Where do I start? My answer is dependent on what I’ve been reading. Lately it has mainly been novels.

Margaret Atwood – for her incisive commentary on society and damned good storytelling

Arundhati Roy for the same reason

Zadie Smith for her characters

Miranda July for using what could be personality flaws to create a compelling persona that is exactly the right vehicle to deliver her stories, whatever form they take

Eimear McBride for her brilliant energy of form

Phoebe Wallace Bridges for her discomfiting challenging of stereotypes and for creating scenes which are poignant and hilarious at the same time

All the novelists I’ve reviewed on my blog.

When it comes to poets, I’d like to mention those I’m working with at the moment – Sai Murray, Michelle Scally Clarke, Cherie Taylor Battiste and Julie Easley for their bravery in tackling the difficult subject of race from unexpected angles whilst making it entertaining – no easy task. And my critique partner Matthew Hedley Stoppard for his touches of shamanism, acute cultural references and unashamed celebration of the shabbier sides of life.

9. Why do you write?

For the same reasons I did when I was a teenager. Because I have ideas for poems and stories and plays and wouldn’t know what else to do with them. Because there are tales that need telling and new ways of telling them. Because there are so many ways to experiment with language. Because if I go too long without writing I start to get restless and grumpy. Because I have to.

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

Move to London. A less facetious answer would be: write and read as much as you can. Be open to learning your craft in all manner of ways, including non-traditional ones. Think critically but kindly about your own work. Also, grow used to rejection – you’ll get a lot of it, especially if you don’t live in London.

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

Together with Michelle Scally Clarke, Sai Murray, Cherie Taylor Batiste, Ricky Venel Stone, Richard Bostock and Julie Easley, I’m working on an exciting literature, spoken word and music show which explores experiences of living with particular skin colours. You can see Words on Skin at the Ilkley Literature Festival on Friday 12th October or Musicport on Saturday 20th October.

I’m also part of a roundtable discussion with Amina Alyal and Lucy Arnold at Ilkley Literature Festival on 14th October to launch the Women Write Now issue of Moving Worlds journal. We’ll read our poems – mine are based on the volunteering I did with refugees in Calais – and discuss the intersections of writing, womanhood and the contemporary moment.

I’m also dabbling in short stories, slowly working towards a collection of poetry and looking for an agent and or publisher for my speculative fiction novel. You can see the problem I have with finding time to rest!

You can see more about my work here: http://www.beckycherriman.com

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Lailah Saafir

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.
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Lailah Saafir

Lailah Saafir was born in Jackson, Mississippi on September 20th. She was raised as a Muslim until the age of 14, then was raised as a Christian. At that time, she began writing poetry. She spent most of her younger years acting in plays and short films. Lailah also did public speaking about AIDS awareness. In her 30s is when she really began writing again. She was inspired by her daughter to write more about her experiences. Lailah currently lives in Arlington, Texas. Her first ebook was published in March 2018, entitled Full Mood.

The Interview

What inspired you to write poetry?

When I was 14 years old, I tried to commit suicide. I didn’t feel like I could really talk about my feelings so writing allowed me to express myself.
Who introduced you to poetry?

My drama teacher introduced me to poetry, allowing me to read Shakespeare, Longfellow and Wordsworth. I was immediately drawn to everything that I was reading. I really just wanted to express myself the way these people were expressing themselves.

How aware were you of the dominating presence of older poets?

I wasn’t very aware of the dominating presence of older poets. It wasn’t until I was in my twenties that I became aware of the presence of older poets.

What is your daily writing routine?

I try to write for at least 2 hours a day. I begin reading, followed by brainstorming, then writing.

What motivates you to write?

Many emotions motivate me to write, including pain, suffering, happiness, and interactions with and observations of other people.

What is your work ethic?

My work ethic includes studying God, nature, and other people. Out of that, I write down what my experiences are and then I try to refine them so that others can relate. Sometimes I have to go over these experiences twenty something times until I find the essence of what I want to share.

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

Maya Angelou influenced me to share the deepest feelings that I have. Other poets who also influenced me, caused me to examine behavior on a deeper level, trying to get to the source of humanity.

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

I admire Natasha Trethewey because of her vision and her experience with the sides of two races. My daughter is also biracial so this gives me a better understanding of her. Mark Antony Rossi is another writer I admire because he speaks straight from the heart and is very relatable. Scott Thomas Outlar is also a writer I admire, for the fire in his belly.

Why do you write?

I write to keep my sanity. I also write so that I can express myself without being judged face to face. In addition, I write so that I can look back at things and see how far I have come. Lastly, I write to relate to others.

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

I don’t believe that you “become” a writer, you either are or you aren’t. That’s not to say that we can’t improve on our writing, but I don’t think it is something you are only taught.

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

I am working on another book of poetry and a volume of short stories.

 

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Ralph Dartford

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.
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Ralph Dartford

Ralph was founder of spoken word upstarts,  ‘A Firm of Poets ‘ and has been published in the Guardian, Stirring Magazine and WordLife amongst many other publications. His first collection, ‘Cigarettes, Beer and Love’ received wide acclaim and his current touring theatre show, ‘Recovery Songs’ is in high demand.

Ralph is about to start an MA in Creative Writing at Sheffield Hallam.

The Interview

What were the circumstances under which you began to write poetry?

I suffered terribly from dyslexia as a child (I still do, but it’s manageable) and guess I looked at words in a compromised way. I was forever looking at what words sounded like backwards, with a letter replaced by another etc. It was an obsessive pursuit. I also became fascinated by songs and would forever make them up on my own, singing them to myself walking to and back from school, to my baby sister in her pram. My Dad brought me a record player and a copy of ‘Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band’ by the Beatles. I played and played it to death. I was especially struck by the sadness of the song, ‘She’s Leaving Home’, the drama of the narrative. The line from the song, ‘Meeting a man from the motor trade’ always broke my heart (still does). The unknowable knowledge of what is not going to happen to the girl in the song fascinated me. Through this song I became obsessed with stories and began writing them as poems. This hasn’t changed at all over the years.

Who introduced you to poetry?

My English teacher, Mr Samson. He introduced me to literature generally. Especially John Steinbeck, Ted Hughes, George Orwell and Spike Milligan. He was quite a subversive man, a proper old socialist. He was the first person to note my dyslexia and really took his time with me. I am indebted to him and my schoolboy poem, ‘Samson’ is a homage to his enduring influence.

How aware were you of the dominating presence of older poets?

When I went on to study Poetry at Birkbeck College where the great and sadly missed, Micheal Donaghy was my tutor, I became acutely aware of a world beyond my narrow knowledge of Bob Dylan, Wilfred Owen and Charles Bukowski. Micheal had a bewildering brain of poetic history that had me running for cover. I always remember at our first lesson he produced a recording of Alfred Lord Tennyson reciting one of his own poems. I started to become aware that there was more to writing poetry, that reading was of greater importance.

What is your daily writing routine?

I try and write everyday. It could be in a notepad, my phone or computer. I think about writing constantly, looking at ideas, people, situations. I don’t have set times to write, but my head is always doing it. I think that is quite common.

What motivates you to write?

I am compelled to. It’s the only time I am truly contented and connected to myself. That may appear terribly sad, but to me it is a truth. I suffer from anxiety and depression and to write gets me away from that.

What is your work ethic?

To write and read as much as I can. Life gets in the way. Relationships have to be sustained, bills have to be paid and wellbeing has to be looked after. I’m just about to start an MA in creative writing at Sheffield. This will change my work ethic and will be welcome. I think all writers need a certain structure to work in and that increases the chances of becoming a success as a better writer.

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

Politically, I am still influenced by George Orwell, John Steinbeck, Colin MacInnes and the free spirited Beat Generation. These writers left an indelible mark on me.  You may laugh, but before that there was Enid Blyton.  She knew how to construct a story. That is important to me, construction and craft.

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

I love storytellers, both in fiction and poetry. Kate Atkinson is a wonderful novelist as is Donna Tartt. Both have the ability to craft characters and plots that get inside the story, to make the reader feel. Ian McEwan also has the deftest of touch, the confidence to take the reader on a long ride. I think ‘Atonement’ is a masterpiece. Poets. Simon Armitage is a clever writer. Deeply northern with the ability to be cruel and kind. Imtiaz Dharker is a beautiful narrative poet who gets under my skin. Her collection, ‘Over the Moon’ with its heartbreak, wit and storytelling is a modern classic in my opinion.

Why do you write?

It’s the only thing I can do well. It consumes me on good days. Leaves me in despair on bad.

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

I would say that you have to read. You cannot do it without knowledge or technique. You would not drive a car without knowing how it works. The same applies to writing.

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

I have a theatre show on tour at the moment called, ‘Recovery Songs’. It’s autobiographical and deals with addiction and mental illness. It’s a mix of spoken word poetry and no nonsense storytelling.

I have recently completed a collection of poetry called ‘Dirty Needle Rain’ and hopefully that will see the light in the next year or so. I’m at the mercy of publishers though. Early signs are encouraging.

I’m also teaching Poetry for the NHS in Leicester and at a rehab unit in Middlesbrough.

But most importantly, I’m studying for a Creative Writing MA in Sheffield. To be around other writers, learning, reading and writing more is probably the most exciting project of them all.

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Andrew McMillan

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.
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Andrew McMillan

Andrew McMillan was born in 1988.  He is senior lecturer at the Manchester Writing School, MMU. He studied English Literature w/ Creative Writing at Lancaster University, and then an MA in modernism from University College London. As well as poetry, he has written journalism for The Guardian and The Independent and appeared on BBC Radio 3 and 4 (Free Thinking, The Echo Chamber, Front Row, Something Understood)

His first full-length collection, physical, was published by Jonathan Cape in July 2015 and is the first ever poetry collection to win The Guardian First Book Award. The collection also won the Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize and was shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize, the Costa Poetry Award, the Forward Prize for Best First Collection and the Roehampton Poetry Prize.  This follows three highly successful pamphlets, the first of which, every salt advance, was published in 2009 by Red Squirrel Press. A second pamphlet, the moon is a supporting player, was published by Red Squirrel Press in October 2011 and a third, protest of the physical, a single long poem, was published by Red Squirrel Press in October 2013. A selection of his poetry can be found in anthologies such as  The Salt Book of Younger Poets, Best British Poetry 2013 and Best British Poetry 2015. Recent single poems can be found in the Poetry, The Poetry Review and Poetry London.

The Interview

1. What inspired you  to write poetry?

I think, like all writers, it was that I loved reading it. I loved reading it, and wanted to sit inside the poems that I loved as much as possible and wanted to find out how they were having the effect that they were on me. And so I started to imitate and to write and then to keep trying to get better.

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

I was lucky enough because of who my dad is to grow up in a house that was full of contemporary poetry books, so it’s an odd thing in that it was never something I had to be introduced to, as it were, it was just always there.

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

I’ve been really lucky to be part of what feels like a really special generation of young poets who have all come up and started publishing together, which has been really lovely. But I always read and respected the older generations too; I took my cues and my inspirations from the mid-20th century poetry, rather than any of my contemporaries.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

I wish I had one.  I get up at five for the dog, feed her, let her out and then she tends to go back to sleep and I can have a couple of hours of solid un-interrupted time. I don’t write poetry every day, I don’t see how one could, but I try to do something connected to it each day. Editing, emailing, mainly reading other people’s stuff as well.

5. What motivates you to write?

To try and get closer to the thing that it is impossible to articulate in language

6. What is your work ethic?

I work very hard at this, all aspects of it, seven days a week. But I’m lucky that I have my health, a job that provides me enough money to be comfortable, no dependents (apart from the dog); I have a lot of space to indulge my work ethic

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

Thom Gunn showed me a queer life could be worth writing about, Selima Hill taught me to have fun, Mark Doty showed me how to find the sublime in the mundane and Philip Larkin taught me not to be afraid of Poetic endings

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

I literally can’t list them all, and I think with questions like this people just end up listing their friends, which seems counterproductive. I will say that Layli Long Soldier’s collection, Whereas, is something quite remarkable.

9. Why do you write?

To make sense of the world

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

It’s not something you become so much as something which just gradually comes upon you through a love of reading and a love of language

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

I’m working on a version of Dorian Grey for Proper Job Theatre, and trying my hand at a couple of as-yet-untitled projects.

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Deborah Alma

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.


Deborah Alma

According to Amazon “Deborah Alma was born in North London, has lived on the Welsh/ Shropshire borders for the last 25 years where she brought up her 2 sons and she lives with the poet James Sheard. She teaches creative writing, works with people with dementia and at the end of their lives and is the Emergency Poet in her 1970 s ambulance. She edited The Emergency Poet-an anti-stress poetry anthology and The Everyday Poet-Poems to Live By (Michael O Mara Books) and was the editor of the landmark #MeToo poetry anthology, published by Fair Acre Press. Her first poetry pamphlet True Tales of the Countryside was published by The Emma Press. She is currently Honorary Research Fellow at Keele University.”

The Interview

1. What were the circumstances under which you began to write poetry?

Oh dear! I think I started to write poetry out of a classic and embarrassing teenage existential angst. I have read poetry all my life, but didn’t really start writing it and being careful with line breaks and what it looked line on the page, or with an imagined reader in mind, until my 40’s when I did a Creative Writing BA at Birmingham University. Before then it was either a feeling of playfulness or necessary in a cathartic sort of way.

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

My much-loved Grandmother, loved to bounce me on her knee to strange nursery rhymes and I loved reading her Arthur Mee’s 10 volume Children’s Encyclopaedia published in the 1950’s which was full of the classics, La Belle Dame sans Merci and Sea Fever and Edward Lear. When I was a young woman, as a bookseller and then working for a publisher we would share poetry books that I brought for her; we loved Dylan Thomas and RS Thomas in particular. My Dad and my Uncles all wrote poetry too, and I think we all got it from her.

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

I was very aware of them; felt often that I was presumptuous to even call myself a poet. I wrote a lot of scraps in notebooks and never typed them up. As a young woman working for Jonathan Cape I almost read too much so that even now I struggle not to be overwhelmed by them. I love the absorbed music in my head though and know that reading is the best route to writing well. Why oh why aren’t I better?

4. What is your daily writing routine?

Can I use one of those rolling around on the floor laughing emoticons?
I am not great with routines. I started writing on Sunday mornings when my children started to lie in as they moved into their teenage years. It was literally the only space I had as a single working parent. Oddly, now that I have more time to write I find that it comes less urgently or easily. That’s a bugger!

5. What motivates you to write?

I tend to write from a sense of something hanging around unexpressed or poorly understood in my own psyche; a strange habit of making connections between apparently unrelated things. The way pain from one thing connects to another older hurt for example. I remember bursting into tears over the death of a much-loved hen and realising I was crying about the Brexit vote and the poem written at that time connects those things.
I really do love the feel of a good black-inked pen in my hand, a new notebook and the almost dream-like state of creating something new. It’s like flight or something a bit wild and uncensored. And there’s pleasure too in the crafting afterwards and seeing if there’s any sense or value in the outpouring

6. What is your work ethic?

For writing? None at all. I could do with one. Where can I get one?
Outside of that, in my employed work, which now luckily enough is in the world of writing; in teaching and editing and ‘poetry on prescription’ it’s a deep-rooted working class get on with it and work hard.

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

Admire is a tricky word . And this question is too enormous !
I admire a lot of the writing of women in particular, those who have written out of the domestic, or the apparently small stuff of the everyday and seen it as beautiful or fascinating. I would name Jane Burn, Wendy Pratt, Angela Readman, Liz Berry, Helen Ivory, Kim Moore, Jacqueline Saphra, Nicky Arscott amongst those. They all have a sense of the surreal which I’m particularly drawn to as well.
I also really admire poets who are open and receptive to learn and develop; I’ve loved watching my friend Pat Edwards do this over the last few years- and I admire my friend Meg Cox for her out of this world simple-seeming poetry and perfect delivery when she’s performing her work. I admire the work of Brett Evans and the carefully managed thin-line between ugly and beautiful and the art of self-deprecation.
I started to type more and realised that the list would go on and on, so I’ll stop there…

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

I say to them, go on then and have some fun with it. Get some peer review set up, through a course or a writer’s group. Read, read and then read. And then write. And keep reading. Nothing gets on my nerves more than people who say they are writers and don’t take the time to read the work of others. Not just for the short-sighted lack of educating yourself, but also for the lack of generosity to those in the community of writers.

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

I have returned from 3 weeks in the north of Norway, ostensibly to read and write and maybe think about actually working on a second collection, but I was very disappointed in myself and have terrible self-doubt all over again.
My creative energy is all going into the possible development of a writing retreat/poetry centre in my home town of Bishop’s Castle in Shropshire which will develop my Emergency Poet ‘poetry on prescription’ project much further.

Thank you so much for being interested and for the opportunity to answer your questions!