Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: David Subacchi

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.

WHERE IS WALES 001

David Subacchi

was born in Aberystwyth, Ceredigion in 1955 into a family representing two separate periods of Italian immigration to Wales. His mother’s father Giuseppe (Joe) Chiappa came to Aberystwyth in 1913 as a fifteen year old from the North of Italy quickly learning both Welsh and English. His father Mario Subacchi in later life a gifted and well known woodcarver arrived in the same town in 1947 following military service in Africa in both the Italian and British armies.

It was the death of David’s father in 2011 that inspired him to begin writing poetry seriously. David’s obituaries for his father appeared in The Guardian, The Independent and The Catholic Herald as well as various Welsh Language publications such as Golwg and Y Cymro.

David attended Ardwyn Grammar School, Aberystwyth and read Law at the University of Liverpool before commencing a civil service career of almost 40 years ending with ten years as a Director and Senior Civil Servant and with responsibilities covering most of the UK.

Retirement from his ‘day job’ in 2014 provided the boost to increase his already prodigious output of poetry mainly in English but increasingly in Welsh also.

David quotes his main poetic influences as Wales, Italy and Liverpool, the city he says he fell in love with and has maintained a love affair with to this day. Many of his poems tell the story of his Italian roots through the violence and struggles of warfare and the immigrant life in a new country.

Others are dominated by his upbringing and experiences in the seaside town of Aberystwyth in the 1960s and his constant revisiting of the town in search of the inspiration that it continues to provide.

In the same way the history of Liverpool is told including its politics, sporting heroes and seafaring background.

David has lived in Wrexham in North Wales since 1989 close to Liverpool and the English border. This proximity of a tough no-nonsense Welsh town to England and English influences is another provider of inspiration and features frequently in the themes of his poetry.

David is a member of Wrexham’s Voicebox Poetry Group, Viva Voce Wrexham, Cross Border Poets, Liverpool’s Dead Good Poets, A Lovely Word (Everyman Theatre), Liver Bards, North West Poets, Wirral River Bards, Whitchurch Writers and Chester Poets. He is active with the Theatre Wales network and local community arts networks in Wales. He performs his poetry frequently at live spoken word events and he has appeared twice in his home town at Aberystwyth Arts Centre.

In a very short time David has built up an excellent reputation for the high quality of his reading and performance as well as his poetry.

He has four published poetry collections in English:  ‘First Cut’ (2012) ‘Hiding in Shadows’ (2014), ‘Not Really a Stranger’ (2016) are published by Cestrian Press and ‘A Terrible Beauty – 17 Sonnets for Easter 1916’ (2016) published by DCS Books. David’s poetry has also been published in numerous on line and hard copy poetry magazines internationally. He has contributed to several anthologies.

On 1 March 2017 Gwasg Caer (Cestrian Press) published David’s first collection of poems in the Welsh Language ‘Eglwys Yng Nghremona’ (A Church in Cremona). To date his poetry in Welsh has also appeared in Yr Angor (Aberystwyth), Nene (Rhosllanerchrugog), Y Clawdd (Wrecsam), Barddoniaeth Saith Seren (Wrecsam) and Newyddion Cymuned Offa (Wrecsam). He is a member of the Welsh Language Literary Society ‘Cymdeithas Owain Cyfeiliog’ and is the current holder of the Ceredigion Museum Poetry Prize.

Selected Publications:

First Cut, Poetry Collection by David Subacchi (Cestrian Press, 2012)

Hiding in Shadows, Poetry Collection by David Subacchi (Cestrian Press, 2014)

Not Really a Stranger, Poetry Collection by David Subacchi (Cestrian Press, 2016).

A Terrible Beauty, 17 Sonnets for Easter 1916, Poetry Collection by David Subacchi (DCS Books 2016).

Eglwys Yng Nghremona (A Church in Cremona), poems in the Welsh Language by David Subacchi (Gwasg Caer – Cestrian Press 2017).

A fuller biography of David can be found here:

https://www.writeoutloud.net/profiles/davidsubacchi

The Interview

1. What inspired you to write poetry?

My father’s death in 2011. He was born in Italy and had a huge influence on me. He had endured the horrors of war in North Africa and Italy during WW2 and his story telling of those days is deeply imprinted in my mind. His work was very hands on and physically demanding, so I saw much less of him than my son sees of me today. After he retired, the family thought that he would be unhappy because he never had the time for any hobbies or pastimes. To our delight and surprise, he began wood carving, a skill he had learned at school in Italy in Cremona in the 1930s. Despite having carved very little for a very long time, his work was exceptional and widely praised. My writing is inspired by him and sometimes tinged with sadness because it only blossomed after his death. So I am a latecomer to writing poetry, before 2011 my writing was occasional only and not that good.

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

I studied poetry at school but my introduction to writing poetry came when I joined one of the oldest established a poetry writing clubs in my area  ‘Chester Poets’. The club provided huge encouragement and a positive outlook towards writing. I have never looked back.

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

I was at school in the 1960s and influenced heavily by the Bible, Shakespeare and Dickens. Also T S Eliot, Byron, Blake, Shelley, Keats, Yeats, Auden, Dylan Thomas, R S Thomas, Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath. I am very aware of the standards that these and other great poets set , but have never allowed their influence to deter me from finding my own style and my own voice.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

I’m mostly an urban poet and a high output poet. I visit the town centre almost every day and spend time writing there in all sorts of ‘hide outs’ – bars, libraries, art galleries etc. I also scan the daily news for events to write about. There are quiet days but also days when I write non-stop.

5. What motivates you to write?

The need for self-expression and self-discovery and the desire to move hearts and minds.

6. What is your work ethic?

Strong. I get uncomfortable when I have not written anything for a day or two. I file, date and record my writing methodically. I never throw away anything I have written. What look a lost cause today often presents possibilities when looked at a day or two later.

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

They set standards of expression and showed me how to move the reader emotionally without descending into ranting and raving, over sentimentality or cursing.

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

I am something of a magpie with modern poets, taking a bit here and a bit there, very often from poets I see perform their work or that I meet, so I’m not going to name any, if that is allowed!

9. Why do you write?

Like most writers I am compelled to write by the desire to express my creativity. Also as mentioned above my desire is to move hearts and minds with the poetry I write. My poetry covers a wide range of subjects and is not restricted to any particular theme or topic. I prefer it that way. I have no campaigns or crusades that drive or dominate my writing.

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

Join a local writers club and interact with other writers. Have realistic expectations about publishing, making money from writing and achieving fame and success in the literary world. Any good writers club will act as a sounding board for your work and a source of good quality, unbiased, sensible advice.

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

I have a new collection of poems (my sixth) which will be published in the first quarter of 2019. It is called ‘Where is Wales?’ and contains 62 poems on topics related to Wales where I was born and where I live, but typically for me it also contains poetry on many other themes and subjects. I’m very excited about it.

Also I’m writing a lot of poetry based on works of art produced by local artists and I’m reading some of my war poetry at a festival in honour of the World War 1 poet Wilfred Owen and also at another event honouring the role of women in the Great War.

 

David Subacchi
October 2018

One thought on “Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: David Subacchi

  1. Pingback: Exclusive: Author David Subacci has given me the great honour and privilege to be the first to announce his new poetry collection in the following interview with him. | The Wombwell Rainbow

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