Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Michael Forester

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.

Awakening

Michael Forester

“There is one journey. We commence it the moment we enter the world, and complete it the moment we leave. Its purpose is to learn, to love and to grow.” So starts Michael Forester’s latest book, One Journey: A Travelogue of Awakening.

Michael is 62 years old. He lives between the southern edge of the New Forest and the sea, with his hearing dog, Matt, for Michael is close to being profoundly deaf. He is a full time author and public speaker, travelling both in the UK and internationally, speaking inspirationally and signing his books for readers in locations as far apart as the UK, Thailand and the Philippines.

On graduating from Oxford University in 1977, Michael first taught economics, before spending over thirty years in the world of business consultancy and management.

In 2015, he made a fundamental change himself, leaving management to concentrate full time on creative writing and public speaking. He is the author of nine published books to date, on subjects as diverse as business strategy, spiritual inspiration and epic fantasy poetry.

Michael’s own journey has taken him from early years in academia into middle years in management consultancy, management training and Neuro Linguistic Programming.

It has taken him from normal hearing to near-profound deafness and, in 2004, the life-changing arrival of a hearing dog, Matt.

It has taken him through a miraculously survived suicide attempt in 2002, into a spiritual awakening.

He has travelled around the planet to over forty countries, from the Amazon Rainforest, encountering ecological devastation, to South Africa, experiencing post-Apartheid forgiveness; from a personal pilgrimage in search of the singing bowls of Nepal, to a first-hand examination of the darker side of economic modernisation in the Philippines, besides many other destinations.

His books can be found at his website, http://www.michaelforester.co.uk

Website is
michaelforester.co.uk

Link to the books is
michaelforester.co.uk/books

Amazon link for my new book is

The Interview

  1. When and why did you begin to write poetry?

I started in the millennium year. It was a reaction to an enormous emotional trauma that resulted in an emotional breakdown
1.1 How did you know poetry could help you through this?

It wasn’t that I thought poetry would help, it was that I felt driven inside as everything external felt dangerous. Writing became my whole life. My intention was to write a series of short stories at that time. One that I started simply came out in poetic form quite unexpectedly and I was left with a 3000 word fantasy poem.

I was really pleased with it, but even in a matter of days I had realised I was far from finished. I spent the rest of the summer focused on extending it and ended up with 32,000 word work of rhyming verse in 16th century English. This later became my epic fantasy poem Dragonsong

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

like everyone else I studied some poetry at school. But I have to be honest and say I don’t think I had read any more from that time until I wrote Dragonsong

Nevertheless, I remain grateful to my English literature teacher from A-level studies who introduced me to the romantics who have remained a considerable favourite of mine even now and to a teacher some years before that when I was about 12 or 13 years old who introduced me to modern poetry, modern in those days being WH Auden, Stephen Spender etc

I had a very religious upbringing! I had read the King James Bible in its entirety the age of 12 and again by the time I was 18. Language land at that age never really leaves you.
3. How aware are you of the dominating presence of older poets traditional and contemporary?

I will take my single greatest poetic influence is TS Eliot

I also read Charles Bukowski avidly.

As to the modern poetry scene, I largely avoided due to its generally in tolerant attitude to traditional form, which is where I work best

3.1. Why do you feel at home in traditional form?

It’s a very interesting question. It’s not that I do not write unstructured poetry. I have written quite a lot. However I commonly gravitate to rhyming verse with a particular emphasis on cadence which powerfully supports spoken poetry which I guess is my greatest interest. As to why that feels like home I think it’s the regularity of the metre and the structural attraction to making verse scan – so a pure linguist attraction I think

3.2 More song like? Extrapolating on your title “Dragonsong”.

Actually, I have tried to write songs but I’m not very good at it! I’m deaf and the lack of ability to hear music is probably behind that.

3.3 As a deaf person what is the appeal of spoken poetry?

I began going deaf from the age of 30.
It is not affected my speech materially. I’m regarded as a mesmeric public speaker. People particularly enjoyed the sound of my voice.

Being deaf, when I take questions from the floor I have to have someone stand next to me to tell me what those questions hour. On the stage it’s mostly me talking to an audience which removes the problem of hearing

3.4 What appeals to you about Buk’s poetry?

It’s grittiness, earthiness and unrestrained honesty Combined with a tremendously powerful use of words

4. What is your daily writing routine?

Intriguingly, I don’t have one! I’m aware of the philosophy that says one must write every day but I don’t subscribe to it. Instead, I seek inspiration by walking in The New Forest where I live. Sometimes it results in poetry, sometimes short stories, sometimes I’m working on a much larger venture. As regards poetry in particular I need to be moved emotionally to write. That could mean anything from being in love to becoming angry at developments on the world seen. I have written much political poetry in anger and abuse of one sort or another. It therefore comes when it comes and can’t be constrained to a schedule

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

I think it soaks into the skin at an early age. When I was on tour in the Philippines last year I had cause to refer back to John Keats Ode on a Grecian Urn.
I was astonished on reading it which I had not done for 30 years or more defined have similarly expressed himself to me. It was like he was speaking to me personally across two centuries.
It became the subject of more than one seminar I delivered in universities in Manila.
6. You said earlier you’d largely avoided modern poets, so who of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?

There are several novelists I admire greatly and read regularly such as Salman Rushdie, Yann Martel, Kazuo Ishiguro. It’s harder to identify poets on the current scene who are at the same level. I find myself thinking of musicians such as Bob Dylan or Paul Simon. Apologies I don’t mean any offence to other poets. I’m just not drawn to their work.

There are several novelists I admire greatly and read regularly such as Salman Rushdie, Yann Martel, Kazuo Ishiguro. It’s harder to identify poets on the current scene who are at the same level. I find myself thinking of musicians such as Bob Dylan or Paul Simon. Apologies I don’t mean any offence to other poets. I’m just not drawn to their work

7. Why do write?

Would it be trite to say because I can’t stop?
I’ve reached the point now where I have a significant number of followers both in the UK and internationally. I believe I making a contribution based at the literary level and spiritually. Both are fundamentally important to me. As long as I believe I’m doing something useful I am highly motivated to continue.

There are several novelists I admire greatly and read regularly such as Salman Rushdie, Yann Martel, Kazuo Ishiguro. It’s harder to identify poets on the current scene who are at the same level. I find myself thinking of musicians such as Bob Dylan or Paul Simon. Apologies I don’t mean any offence to other poets. I’m just not drawn to their work

7.1 Spiritually?

I write mindbody spirit works as well as fiction and poetry.

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

My newest release is a book called One journey: a travel log of awakening. It explores the connection between the places to which we travel and the people we become.

It’s a question I am asked all the time on tour. I believe that authors have to find their unique authentic voice. In my opinion this can only be done by shutting out all the noise that we listen to all day long and going inside, by meditation, by walking in nature, by listening to inspirational music, and so on to find that unique voice. When you have found it, respect it. Don’t dismiss what comes to you because you think it will be rejected. It’s vital to work with it and develop what comes even if it never gets read by somebody else. This is where authenticity starts and new writers are made.

9. You spoke of your newest release tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.

My new book one journey has only been out a matter of days and I’m now in the promotional phase intensively. I think this will probably preoccupy me until the end of this year.
There are several places I might go next year. One is the completion of the third volume of my trilogy that starts with my book Vicious: a novel of punk rock and the second coming.
Another is another non-fiction book I’m working on to do with homelessness

 

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