Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Leanne Neill

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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Leanne Neill

is a company director, mother of three, and a self-professed ‘composer of words.’  She has over twenty years of experience in public libraries and local government.  In 2016, she started her poetry and art inspired Facebook page :  LUST for WORDS, and has since been published in many ezines and pages including Spillwords , Bymepoetry, including their WOMb anthology, The Scarlet Leaf Review, Blue Nib, Raven Cage, Husk Magazine, and US anthologies, Dandelion in a Vase of Roses and Warriors With Wings.  Her first collection, Fine Lines and Unpolished Pieces of Me was published by The Australia Times in 2017.  Her second poetry collection, Blue Lotus was released in June, 2018. Leanne lives in Melbourne, Australia.

Find her at :
Facebook.com/LUST-for-WORDS
Instagram : lust_for_words_by_leanne_neill
Twitter : Leanne Neill@LeanneNeill2

The Interview

1. What inspired you to write poetry?

From my early teenage years, I felt compelled to write.  I kept diary after diary that turned into a collection I now realise, was “loose” poetry.  I wrote teen fiction that I would take to school in chapters to eager readers awaiting the next instalment.  Any time I was in love, out of love or simply lost, I wrote poetry.  As an adult after losing my baby, my first inclination was to express my grief in poetic form.  I can only conclude that poetry is somehow intrinsic to my being and an instinctive form of emotive expression for me personally.

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

I remember a rather awkward “spoken word’’ presentation of ‘‘I wish I’d looked after my teeth” by Pam Ayres, complete with props in Primary school.  I don’t recall much in High school unless the dreaded obligatory Shakespeare counts?  I studied English literature at university where they forced Yeats, etc, down our throats, made us analyse in essay form, and I’m certain contributed to me detesting poetry altogether afterwards for at least 15 years!  I worked in libraries as an adult and was blessed to work at one time with esteemed Australian Poet, Robbie Coburn. In reading his poetry, I was reintroduced to the artform, and remembered why I had once loved it.

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

Other than through education, mostly at university level, barely.  Only here was I introduced to classics such as Frost, Yeats, Keats, Eliot etc. As mentioned earlier, these in fact deterred me from enjoying poetry for some time afterwards.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

At one point in my short poetry writing time of two years, I felt obliged to produce a poem EVERY day.  Perhaps this stemmed from the self-imposed pressure of maintaining fresh pieces on my poetry page, LUST for WORDS.  Creativity flowed easily, and this was feasible for quite a long time.  Now I don’t force creativity, although if I don’t push myself on some level, I’d possibly never write another word! I try to take in a new art piece daily, or an interesting word and see if anything is born from it creatively. If not, I no longer feel any angst about resting my mind for a while longer.  Work, family and other interests also often prevail out of necessity.

5. What motivates you to write?

Life!  My experiences, those I witness through others, joy, love, despair, grief. Inspiration is endless and if it does end, it usually means you need to leave your comfort zone and experience something you’ve never seen or done before…sky dive, see a psychic, take a holiday, take a walk, even around the corner!  Fresh air and nature are huge motivators for me, but then equally so, a busy city scenario.
Music and art are my BIGGEST motivators.  I live for music. I feel ill if I’ve gone a day without it!  Lyrical content and emotion are everything to me in terms of inspiration.  Often if I feel totally blocked but itching to write, I will browse through Pinterest art.  There is usually at least one image that screams for words! Feedback from every day people in the form of messages or comments motivate me.  If I have touched someone’s heart or mind, I feel I’ve won the most prestigious literary prize!

6. What is your work ethic?

Any time a poetic thought or concept enters my mind, or even just a word that suddenly intrigues me, I record it in my notes on my phone. This sometimes happens when I’m trying to sleep. I know if I don’t record the thought, I’ll spend a sleepless night trying to memorize it!  At some point, usually the next day, I’ll go back to it and try to develop the thought into poetry.  Sometimes, these notes will sit for months until they evolve into something. After a certain period- of- time, if not fruitful, I delete them altogether. They weren’t meant to be!

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

I grew up an avid reader. My mother couldn’t keep up financially with my book purchasing requests and finally joined me up as a member of my local library. Ironically years later, this became my first place of real employment!  In my youth I read and collected every Enid Blyton book, the Nancy Drew series etc. Most typical of this time I guess. In my teens, I typically moved on to Judy Blume and series such as Sweet Valley High and Sweet Dreams; a teen version of Mills & Boon which I now find totally amusing.  I’m not certain any have influenced my poetry. My passion for the written word, absolutely! My poetry is influenced most by contemporary poets.

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

My reading preferences, especially in poetry are varied and eclectic. They range from classic to contemporary poets, including the ghastly termed ‘insta-poets’.  If I had to name contemporary poets I admire they would mostly be Australian poets; Ali Whitelock, Anne Walsh, Anne Casey, James Walton, Robbie Coburn, Michele Seminara and Beth Spencer, just to name a few.  In the ‘pop-poetry’ genre I enjoy Beau Taplin, Chloe Frayne, (coincidentally, also BOTH Australian), and receiving great commercial success currently. I’m not a huge fan of rhyming poetry but I believe Lang Leav mostly does it well.  Kimberley Reynolds (Kimspiration) is an Australian rhyming queen.
I prefer to read non-fiction or biographies outside of poetry, though I love a good chick-lit novel!

9. Why do you write?

Refer to question 1.  This question should be deleted in my opinion.  Too much repetition.

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

I don’t think you” become” one, I believe you’re born one.  If you have the inherent passion and drive to create any culmination of words, you ARE a writer.  The reality is, especially in the poetry genre sadly, you’re likely never to be wealthy or well-known. Write because you just can’t NOT write…something, sometimes anything! Oh, and practice never makes perfect, but it definitely makes for better!

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

This year in June (2018), I published my second poetry collection, ‘Blue Lotus’.  I’m astounded by and grateful for its sales and success! I published my first collection with the help of The Australia Times Magazine, ‘Fine Lines and Unpolished Pieces of Me’ in 2017.  This was a one-off, seventy copy limited edition print, as I wanted to test the waters for sales.  All sold within six weeks of release.

For my future venture, (I’m allowing myself a minimum of one year), is a collected work called ‘Rebellious and Almost Repentant.’  It will contain mostly new poems, but also a selection of relevant pieces from the above fore-mentioned collections.  I plan to include personal photographic artwork.  I’m feeling totally inspired but want to ensure the quality and relevance of the content to perfection. I’m also fastidious about the aesthetic presentation of my books.  I want them to look beautiful too.

Meanwhile, my social media presence continues to grow on Facebook and Instagram.  LUST for WORDS is close to 25, 000 followers in just over two years.

I regularly submit to online poetry publications including The Blue Nib and Spillwords.  I expect to be included in my third group anthology for 2018 by the end of this year.
LINKS:

Facebook.com/LUST-for-WORDS
Instagram : lust_for_words_by_leanne_neill

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