Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Anthony Etherin

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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Anthony Etherin

is an experimental formalist poet. He founded Penteract Press and he invented the aelindrome. Find him on Twitter, @Anthony_Etherin, and via his website: anthonyetherin.wordpress.com.

The Interview

1. What inspired you to write poetry?

I started with music. Throughout my teens and early twenties, I played in a number of bands—bass guitar, lead guitar, and some reluctant singing. I was always writing songs. Academically, however, I was more focussed on the sciences. I studied Physics at university, leaning heavily towards the mathematical side of things.

It was only after graduating, and when the bands I played in fell apart (for various artistic and geographical reasons), that I started to write poetry. It immediately appealed to both the musician and the scientist in me. It felt, to some extent, the perfect meeting point of these two mindsets: a place where melody meets reason. Since then, I’ve tried to write with this complementarity in mind, applying various rules and procedures to words, but always with an ear on rhythm and euphony.

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

My parents were both teachers—my father Chemistry, my mother English/primary. Both read widely. The house was full of books, which gave me plenty of opportunity to discover poetry for myself. Also, I listened to a lot of music, growing up, and there was a natural progression from reading song lyric to reaching for poetry books.

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

I never saw it as a drawback. I’m not one to think that new ideas, styles and paradigms require the destruction of older ones. The more poetry (old or new), the better.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

I don’t have a fixed routine, but I make sure to write something every day.

5. What motivates you to write?

Simply: I enjoy it. I enjoy the challenge, and I enjoy the thrill of making things.

6. What is your work ethic?

I sit down to write, and I don’t get up until there’s a complete poem there—even if the poem’s going to need extensive editing, later. I have an ability to concentrate for long periods, and I hate leaving drafts incomplete. So, I’ll work intently, for long, unbroken stretches—sometimes up to eight hours, without taking a break…. (Of course, when it’s time to stop, relax and unwind, I like to do that properly too.)

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

The first poets I took a strong interest in were the romantics (British and beyond—I read a lot of Poe), and I can still detect their influence in a lot of my poems, particularly in my more pastoral or gothic pieces. Their mark is there rhythmically, too.

Also, the influence of the music I listened to as a teenager remains: I was into the punk scene, and I still have a strong DIY ethic, particularly with my small press, Penteract Press. (Plug: PenteractPress.com).

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

I admire anyone willing to dedicate time to writing and promoting poetry. It requires resilience! I’ve enjoyed the company of nearly all the poets I’ve met. A poet is a mad thing to be, and we are all united by this odd feeling that what we’re doing is entirely pointless, and yet somehow the most important thing in the world. I’ve made a lot of friends, and I’ve had the opportunity to work with some wonderful people, as both poet and publisher.

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

I’d tell them to write what they want to write, and not what they feel will earn them praise; but I’d also warn them that “writing from the heart”, as advice, only goes so far. Every style of writing has an associated set of techniques and tricks, and these will need learning. So, be suspicious of anyone who tells you to write poetry with complete freedom, and be prepared to work very hard….

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

I am currently compiling a small chapbook of short poems, which I have been asked to put together by a small press. I’m also still promoting my recent collection of short anagrammatic and palindromic poems, “Cellar” (https://penteractpress.com/store/cellar-anthony-etherin).

Other than that, I continue to publish leaflets and books, via Penteract Press, and to explore short-form constrained poetry via my Twitter feed and Patreon account (both …/Anthony_Etherin).

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