Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: David Wheatley

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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David Wheatley

Amazon tells us “David Wheatley was born in Dublin in 1970. His previous collections are ‘Thirst’ (1997; Rooney Prize for Irish Literature), ‘Misery Hill’ (2000), ‘Mocker’ (2006) and ‘A Nest on the Waves’ (2010). His work has appeared in numerous anthologies, including ‘The Penguin Book of Irish Poetry’, and has been awarded a variety of prizes, including the Vincent Buckley Poetry Prize and first prize in the Friends Provident National Poetry Competition. His critical study ‘Contemporary British Poetry’ is published by Palgrave. He lives in rural Aberdeenshire.”

The Interview

1. What inspired you to write poetry?

‘The poem is the cry of its occasion.’

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

Mine was not a literary youth. My poetic beginnings date from my time at university in Dublin, where I had not one but three very talented contemporaries to learn from. I would most likely not have amounted to anything, insofar as I have amounted to anything, without that intensely formative stage in my writing life.

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

Dublin is a city full of statues, at least some of which were still walking the streets when I was young. What a strange experience to find oneself falling into step on Baggot Street with Michael Hartnett and to strike up a casual conversation with him about Irish bardic poetry. There was a lot of that about.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

I have a demanding day-job and a toddler round the place, so I can’t say I have a fixed daily writing routine. I walk around with bits of paper stuffed in my pockets and scribble on them between classes or in cafes, then scrape the results together late at night. It seems to work.

5. What motivates you to write?

The usual farrago of boredom, horror, joy, gratitude, and other assorted emotional stopping-off points along that spectrum.

6. What is your work ethic?

In need of a stern talking-to.

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

I notice Dublin bookseller price tags on the WS Graham and Marianne Moore Collected Poems I was reading just today, so the connection to the world of my student reading remains very strong, yes.

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

I was terribly upset by Roy Fisher’s death last year. I credit him with the great leap forward my imagination took in my thirties, which helped me move away from the callow juvenilia I’d been writing up until then. His work is a great flaming furnace moulding the genius loci of Albion into those incomparable ingots of his long poems, from City to ‘Wonders of Obligation’ and beyond.

9. Why do you write?

Can’t honestly say. Maybe best not to know. Keeps me off the streets.

10. What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”
Poetry is modified breathing. You’re already halfway there. On you go then.

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

I am grappling with a long poem which will be mainly about channelling the buried psychic energies of the kingdom of Pictland, where I live (Aberdeenshire), via its symbol stones and stone circles, and on completion of which I expect an ancient Celtic serpent god to be reanimated and assume his place as our rightful overlord.

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