Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Becky Nuttall

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.


Becky Nuttall

Becky draws inspiration from a childhood immersed in art; her father was writer and artist Peter Draper who in turn was close friends with Hubert (Nibs) Dalwood. Peter was also a founder member of the Devon Guild of Craftsmen. Alongside this creative home life are influences from a lifelong love of Dadaism, Surrealism, Kurt Schwitters and the effect of being a Protestant girl from an unconventional background in a convent school. Becky art and poetry work is intertextual; deconstructing and reconstructing the relationship between her family’s art, and the influences of religious violence, guilt, piety, art history, feminism, popular culture, conformity on adolescence
She performs her poetry and runs Stanza Extravaganza with Robert Garnham in Torquay Devon
Becky has been published and her childhood poetry is in the forthcoming Play Anthology edited by Simon Williams and Susan Taylor. She was Highly Commended in the Open Torbay Poetry Festival 2017.
She has won awards for her art and has been selected as a Torbay Geo artist
Becky is a lifelong Atheist and Humanist

The Interview

1. When and why did you start writing?

I started writing poetry when I was about eight years old. However, I thought as a poet before I could write it. I was born with a poet and artist’s bones but school was where I first realised I was a poet. I was taught in the traditional way in the sixties; by rote and learning the works of famous men. We were told to write in the style of one of Christina Rossetti’s poems. This female poet was given some status in the school, a convent, because she wrote “In the Bleak Midwinter”. I wrote a poem title “The Rain”. I achieved some hard worn praise for it, I stood out as my family were artists not stockbrokers. That made me think I had a talent. I have an ear and eye for language, meter and tone. It’s in the genes

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

My parents and their friends. My father was a professional writer. Most of their friends were writers and artists when I was a child, including Peter Nichols and the sculptor Hubert Dalwood. You just absorb it

3. How aware are you of the dominating presence of older poets traditional and contemporary?

As any writer will say, you have to read good poetry to able to write good poetry. I remember writing as a teenager, and although not bad, it shows the absence of growth that comes with research and the understanding of what and why other poets write. I was taught very traditional Victorian lyric verse in school but my father read contemporary poets. I asked for Crow by Ted Hughes for my 13th birthday. I searched out female poets, like I sought out female artists. I was mentored in art school by a poet who introduced me to poets beyond the western canon. My children will tell me about current poets or writer’s I should read.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

I work full time and try to restrict writing to out of work hours. However, I have copious scrapes of paper in my work bag and I use my phone to quickly jot down ideas or edit a poem. I will work in my studio, in between painting, by doing the first draft long hand, write that on the computer, print it, scribble over that and then write the rest on the computer. I’ve no idea why this works and I think it’s just a ritual that makes me feel comfortable, that mix of pen and cut and paste. I miss not seeing that constant editing in written draft form but time is precious. I research and write something everyday. I’ve trained myself to switch off before bed though. My father wrote at home so I grew up thinking writing is a profession.

5. What motivates you to write?

It’s more a burning drive and passion. I perform my poetry so there is a motivation to produce regular new work. The support of other poets and artists is my greatest motivation. I believe in W H Auden’s words about owing it to us to get on with what you’re good at. Don’t waste it. If I can help to give any poet/artist confidence, like I’ve been given, I will.

6. What is your work ethic?

Poetry is such a niche area that I’d be mad to write and think I’ll be discovered or famous or make any money from it. I was motivated by that ethic when I was young because my father was successful and made his living from writing. Once I gave up that idea I became more professional about writing, networking and getting poetry more recognised locally. Because I have always written, the work ethic is always the reward of connecting with other humans poetically.

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

My parent’s house was full of art, books and music. I had Hilaire Belloc and Edward Lear and a lot of traditional children’s books, my grandmother gave me books with feisty female heroes. Our reading wasn’t censored so I went straight to adult books when I was about 11-12 years old. Early reading would’ve been Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, The Great Gatsby, John Updike, Hemingway, Vonnegut. As trends and themes change over time it’s interesting how I use those writers, like Hemingway, to learn more about the author’s life and influence, for bad and good, rather than the work.

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

When I was young I loved Paul Simon’s lyrics and David Bowie was a master of edgy lyrics. I love rock music as much as I love poetry. I listen to music when I write, not for the words, but for the tone and key change. It influences the rhythm of my work. I admire the writer I’m reading I guess, my mind’s too open now to say I have certain influences

9. Why do you write?

Because my father did, and my grandfather. I’m a writer like I’m a human

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

I’m the last person to ask to answer this question. I have an aversion to being taught, you won’t find me in a workshop. At a certain point in your life you have to stop asking how and just do it. Sometimes I’ll allow myself to be judged but I won’t allow someone else to teach me, for me it’s part of my integrity as a writer. Reading other writers is all the teaching I need.

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

I am working on poetry that looks at the influences on me as an adolescent and how we become creative people

Becky Nuttall 21st October 2018

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