Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Maggie Mackay

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.

The Heart of the Run published

Maggie Mackay

Here’s the link to my debut pamphlet.


Maggie Mackay is a jazz and whisky loving MA graduate from Manchester Metropolitan University. One of her poems is included in the award-winning #MeToo anthology while others have been nominated for The Forward Prize, Best Single Poem and for the Pushcart Prize. Her pamphlet ‘The Heart of the Run’ is published by Picaroon Poetry.

The Interview

1. What inspired you to write poetry?

The way so much can be expressed in concise language and the joy of capturing a thought/memory in an image. I was in the teaching profession for a very long time. You view and experience such a rich tapestry of life in the young people and adults who make up a learning community. So much to write about and communicate.

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

My Dad who loved books. He read bedtime stories to my brother and me through our childhood and introduced me to the public libraries, the theatre and cinema.

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

As a Scot, I was raised with the poetry of Robert Burns and at school we learned the works of classic poets such as John Masefield, Edward Lear and R L Stevenson who remains a hero for me.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

I try to find a couple of hours each day. For me practice has to be a habit. My MMU tutors stressed how important it is to read widely so I aim to read at least one poem a day from a collection for inspiration and appreciation of craft.

5. What motivates you to write?

The fun of it, losing myself in another place, sometimes for hours and the magical buzz when the words strike gold. Rare, and so satisfying.

6. What is your work ethic?

Practise, practise. Read, and read more, including poetry I might resist. That makes for a productive learning curve.

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

They show me how to sustain musicality and rhythm. How to write elegantly and play with language.

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

Several Celtic poets –   Heaney, Robin Robertson, Rita Higgins, Louis MacNeice for their lyricism and versatility. American writers too – Billy Collins, Mark Doty, Kay Ryan, Marie Howe. I admire any writer who can connect with the reader, tell a story with power and subtlety. There are poets in my community whom I admire, my editor Kate Garrett and to name but a few, Claire Askew, Lindsay MacGregor, Kim Moore, Helen Ivory, Rebecca Gethin, Brett Evans and Stephen Daniels.

9. Why do you write?

To feel complete. To flex the brain muscles. To be part of something bigger.

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

You read. You pick up a pen, stare at the blank page and write from the heart. Really, you can’t help yourself from writing. It’s like breathing. And there’s no point in worrying about rejection. Go to readings, workshops, hang out with like-minded folk and never listen to the negative voice at the back of your brain.

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

I start a PhD in Poetry next year. I’ve a few themes bubbling up to discuss when I get going. I’m also compiling a full collection and all the time sending out poems to call outs.

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