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.
Gareth Writer-Davies is from Brecon Shortlisted for the Bridport Prize (2014 and 2017) and the Erbacce Prize (2014)Commended in the Prole Laureate Competition (2015) and Prole Laureate for 2017. Commended in the Welsh Poetry Competition (2015) and Highly Commended in 2017
His pamphlet “Bodies”, was published in 2015 by Indigo Dreams and the pamphlet “Cry Baby” came out 2017.
His first collection “The Lover’s Pinch” (Arenig Press) was published June, 2018.
- When and why did you start writing poetry?
I started about eight years ago after a break of some thirty years of not reading or writing poetry. I showed a poem from my teens to a girlfriend and she thought it was good and encouraged me; thereafter I kept writing.
2. Who introduced you to poetry?
Primary school. I grew up in a household that was not bookish or creative.
I always avidly read any books, though sports were as important as I was growing up.
2.1 What poetry books did you read?
Mainly those set by school. So Milton and Shakespeare and T.S. Eliot. I remember buying the Selected poems of Louis MacNeice and the selected Poems of Thomas Hardy so I must have had some response and interest but a poor result at English A-Level probably killed that although the teacher did say I had a true poetic response and that thought lingered.
2.2 What did you think he meant by “true poetic response”?
I guess he meant that I had a way of responding to the text that was not driven by exam success and the building of an essay but that I felt and reacted emotionally to the text. I wish I could have done that AND had technique! Sadly, he’s dead now, otherwise I would like to tell him that it all turned out alright!
I know one or two teachers I’d like to say that to.
3. What style were your early poems?
They came from periods of both crisis and emotional uplift and so they were quite heavy going and probably somewhat overdone. They were free verse and dealt with loss and love. It was a year or two before I realised I could play and imagine rather than reportage. Also, I started to write in a lighter style about dark subjects; I liked (and still do) the tension.
4. Did the way any particular poets you read dealt with such matters help at all?
I feel severely under-read after that long gap but I have tried to make up for lost time as best I can. I have some poets I refer to such as Bishop, Oswald, Larkin as guides for tone and sometimes technique. I tend to read poets from the 60s and 70s and it’s surprising how many are now forgotten when they were big names in their time.
Which is helpful sometimes. I’m told I’m quite original, but I think it’s more to do with my influences now being quite obscure!
I agree. I try to promote forgotten poets as often as I can.
5. What is your daily writing routine?
I’m glad you mention routine. I think the dull truth about creativity is that it is based on routine ie; turning up at the desk and setting to work. 6 days out of 7, I’ll be doing something with my poems, even if it’s just changing a title . Of course this routine needs to be balanced with the floaty head space, but it works for me; I would recommend the William Stafford method to anyone.
5.1 The William Stamford method?
Here’s a link. It’s all about getting poems started.
6. What motivates you to write?
Not sure; it’s become such a large part of my life, it just is. I always like to look ahead; could this poem be part of a sequence; could that sequence be leading to a pamphlet or book. That gives me forward motion. I know that if my writing stopped, i would miss it sorely.
7. This relentless routine is your work ethic?
Yes. I was bought up Calvinistic Methodist!
8. Who of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?
Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch, Alice Oswald, John Ashbery (though recently deceased)
Not sure why, but then why should I know; I just do! I guess I like wit and daring.I would say about Ashbery that any time a read a page of his dense poetry I came away with something.
8.1 What do you come away with?
Mainly a way of expressing something difficult.
9. Why do you write?
Probably some sad need for approbation! But more seriously, it fulfils a need in me to express my thoughts and if people like my poetry and are entertained or moved or both by it then I’m happy
10. What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”
I try not to overthink it;
11. And finally, Gareth, tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.
Wow, that’s a question of responsibility! I would say practise and then practise some more. It’s like a marathon runner has to build up the miles. There’s inspiration, but you can’t rely on that, so craft and read, read, read (not just poetry) and write, write, write.
At the moment I am getting my act together for the Wilfred Owen Festival at the start of November where I’m appearing. I also have a new pamphlet in the works and a collection being considered. I like to keep busy.