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.
According to Amazon “Morgan Nikola-Wren began writing poetry for various literary periodicals in 2013. She is a winner of the Pangaea Worldwide Poetry Slam, 2016, and has published two books of poetry. Her debut book, Magic with Skin On, received a Goodreads Choice nomination for Best Poetry Book of 2017. Morgan is perpetually searching for new favorite words, more black clothing, and the perfect design for her next tattoo. She ran off with her husband’s circus for a while, but eventually settled back in Los Angeles, where she works as a children’s librarian. Find her on Facebook at facebook.com/morgannikolawren, follow @morgannikolawren on Instagram, or visit morgannikolawren.com.”
- When and why did you start writing poetry?
Oh gosh. That one’s tricky. I first started writing poetry when I was a teenager, as almost everyone does. But my interest in it was on-again, off-again and, to be frank, the writing was terribly lazy. I didn’t REALLY start taking the craft seriously until after college. I was in/getting out of an abusive relationship, and felt there was nowhere to process what I was going through. So, I took my pen to paper. Consistently, since that was a safe and readily available outlet in the middle of all the chaos. I soon found that the more poetry I wrote, the more I became interested in actually making it good. So I started researching. I read poetry by classical and contemporary poets. I played Button Poetry’s youtube channel in the background while I worked. Now that I look back on it, I think my inability to voice what I was going through/what I needed to the person who was hurting me made me almost obsessive about saying what I needed to and saying it well. Wow, I really didn’t put that together until just now.
2. Who introduced you to poetry?
Hahaha. Honestly? My sister (ten years my senior) had a book of poetry by Jewel, and I went into her room and read it one day while she was at work. I also was one of those weird kids who listened to Loreena McKennitt all the time and was thrilled to find out that a lot of her songs were actually classic poems put to music.
3. How aware are you of the dominating presence of older poets traditional and contemporary?
Very. At first, I found it intimidating–like I hadn’t lived long enough to say anything worthwhile. But the more I delved into my story, the more I realized that what I had to say was truly unique and vital. And that’s true of all our stories, regardless of age. Mind you, this internal struggle was ten years ago. (I’m an emerging poet, but I’m not exactly young.) Nowadays, it’s actually funny–I see the opposite happening: a lot of older people are feeling the poetry scene is being dominated by younger generations–at least in the popular fields–which I find regrettable as well. The more we all think our stories, as well as others’ are worthwhile, the more we’re bound to connect with one another. And the world could use more empathy, now more than ever.
4. What is your daily writing routine?
The goal is to spend at least an hour a day writing. It’s been a bit tricky, since I’m working a ton of overtime this month, but pretty much any other time of the year, I swing by my favorite coffee house on my way home from work and turn off the world long enough to get at least a few good ideas out of me. If I’m on a particularly crunched schedule or dealing with writers block, I’ll sometimes tell myself I have only ten minutes to write. (It’s amazing, all the things you realize you need to say once you’re told you have only ten minutes to say anything. Haha)
5. What motivates you to write?
What motivates me to write poetry specifically is probably tied to why I read it. While I love language and the way the words wrap themselves around your tongue, I ultimately read poetry to know I am not alone. I love that you can read something from hundreds of years ago, written by someone who lived in a completely different place in the world than you and know that at the time they wrote this, they felt exactly the way you did. Likewise, I write poetry to let others know they are not alone. I think the more we recognize that so many people know exactly how we feel, the more likely we are to exercise empathy regarding the things that make us different. And it also goes a long way to make others feel a little less lonely.
6. What is your work ethic?
Tell the truth, especially if it scares you. Then edit. Tirelessly. You need to show your voice and your talent the respect they deserve by making your work as good as you can.
7. How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?
Greatly. Every writer that we read, poet or otherwise, sticks with us in some way. I think it’s no coincidence that I was a kid who read a bunch of fantasy and I am told often nowadays that my poetry feels like magical realism. It’s the lense through which I see the world.
8. Who of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?
Alysia Harris! The woman has perfectly married rawness and technique. She’s truly remarkable.
9. Why do you write?
As to why I write: simply put, there are stories in me that have to get out by any means necessary, and the easiest thing on them and me is to let them claw their way through my fingers and into paper and ink.
10. What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”
Write every day. Read anything you can get your hands on. Always ask how you can make it better.
11. Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.
Oh, wow! Well, I actually just released my latest book, “Communion Wine in a Shot Glass,” so I am still doing some stuff with that. I’ve got two poetry books in the works (and one novel, but that’s another story.) One of the poetry books will be a chapbook called “Manifest.” I don’t want to give too much away, but it’s going to have a really visual aesthetic to go with the words and I’m crazy excited about the theme. My next full length poetry book is called “The Only Thing that’s Changed is All of Me.” It goes back to my original format that I used with my first book, “Magic with Skin On,” so it’s equal parts poetry and prose, but the thing that makes this one different is it will be told in alternating viewpoints of the two main characters (one in poetry and one prose). It’s gonna be a wild ride and I am so thrilled to share it with everyone.