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.
lives in York where she is the Poetry Society’s Stanza rep and runs poetry surgeries. Her background is in teaching and she ran creative writing courses at York University for fifteen years. Twice a winner in the Poetry Business Book and Pamphlet Competition, she has two pamphlets and three collections with Smith/Doorstop: A Guided Tour of the Ice House, The Stonegate Devil and Blast Off! (for children aged 7-10) She has won a number of first prizes, including the Bridport and has performed at various festivals in Aldeburgh, Bridlington, York etc. Carole has also judged poetry competitions both locally and nationally.
1. What inspired you to write poetry?
Like most people I had good English teachers whose enthusiasm was infectious and I enjoyed studying poetry at university but really I started in earnest when taking my sixth formers to Lumb Bank where I worked with some wonderful poets who encouraged me to take myself seriously as a poet.
2. Who introduced you to poetry?
I can’t remember really. It’s always been there. I even spent my pocket money on a poetry book when I was very young.
3. How aware were you of the dominating presence of older poets?
Do you mean dead poets or decrepit ones? I certainly had a grounding in poets of an earlier age – Keats, Coleridge, Wordsworth etc. and they seemed to inhabit a magic kingdom I wanted the key to.
4. What is your daily writing routine?
I don’t write every day. Family commitments and other work get in the way so I would say I write when I can and it works best if I have lots of time and solitude. I have just come back from a wonderful Arvon retreat where I could barely drag myself from my desk!
5. What motivates you to write?
I just love it. It makes me feel alive. Rejections, obviously, have the opposite effect but it’s the actual writing that matters.
6. What is your work ethic?
Not sure I have one unless I have inherited my ancestors’ Northern work ethic. Certainly I work hard.
7. How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?
I think you always carry the rhythms of nursery rhymes and children’s poetry with you. Of course when I was younger I was into the Romantics. Nowadays I’m more immediately influenced by contemporary writers. On the retreat, for example, I immersed myself in Miroslav Holub, Selima Hill, David Constantine, Penelope Shuttle. I love to read whole collections or even collecteds.
8. Who of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?
So many it’s hard to say. Of my immediate contemporaries I really admire poets like Clare Shaw, Kim Moore, Mona Arshi, Carol Ann Duffy,obviously, but also I love Billy Collins and Frank O’Hara (OK not strictly contemporary!) I admire Sharon Olds too. I think I am drawn to poets who have courage, who are honest and clear. For me, that’s what poetry is. Isn’t it about honesty?
9. Why do you write?
I write because I love to write and because if I don’t for a while I start to feel quite ill actually. I need to write whether anyone reads it or not. Of course it’s better if they do!
10. What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”
Actually someone on the retreat did ask me that and I said I would send her a reading list! Basically you need to study what other poets are doing and have done, to notice how poems are put together and so on but also definitely go on courses, share your work with others, go to readings and festivals and just read loads.
11. Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.
At the moment I have two things on the go: a second children’s collection and a short collection of poems written about my recent experience of brain surgery. At Lumb Bank I read loads of poems about illness and when it got too much I went back to play around with poems for small children which are such fun to write. It’s like being a kid again and what’s wrong with that?