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

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Christena AV Williams whose stage name is Antonia Valaire

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.

Antonia Valaire is the correct spelling.

Christena AV Williams

is a multiple award-winning Author, Poet, International Anthologist, Inner child Press International Cultural ambassador, Historian and Philosopher. Her Book, “Pearls among Stones” was awarded Prime Ministers National Youth Awards for excellence in Arts and Culture. Also, Youth empowerment award from Jamaican Youth empowerment through culture, arts and nationalism, (JAYECAN). She is also the author of Black Gold for which her poem, “Stone cold sinner” was a finalist in Hessler street fair poetry Anthology, Cleveland, Ohio and Out from Babylon System: Liberation of Mind.
Some of her publications includes only to name a few are: Gleaner newspaper, Jamaica, Poetry NZ 47, New Zealand, Tuck magazine, Female first write be share be read, 2014 winner, reflection mag, India, shortlisted in Desmond O’ Grady poetry competition in Ireland, shortlisted in jaBlog! Junior authors poetry contest, L3 Magazine, Also among top 30 in World Healing, World Peace poetry anthology by Inner child Press in USA. When she is not writing you will find her volunteering for she is closely linked to organizations such as Manifesto Jamaica, Positive org and JAYECAN.

The Interview

1. When and why did you start writing poetry?

I grew up reading a lot of books because it was all I had. It was not so long ago in my country that kids’ enjoyed reading and we played outdoors making box trucks, kites and playing football and running, however, a part from those I was always a reader. I began writing at age ten and it was done naturally. As I was a child who was very shy and had lot of doubts, fears and felt abandoned by my father who left when I was two years of age. I received a lot of discrimination because of it and so I wanted an outlet to release these hurt and pain. Further reasons were that my family and I were very poor so for three and half years without running water or electricity, house in arrears and many times without food so what we endured made me write even more. As I grew older I became radical because of political uneasiness and injustice in my country. So now I am a poetical activist who saw poetry as a tool of activism and a transporter of education.

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

I would not say introduced more like who strengthened my interest has I was always writing poetry naturally without even knowing what it was. However, I recall listening to the reasoning’s and performance of Rastafari Dub poet and Philosopher Mutabaruka who had me revolutionized. Later, I got deeply inspired and in love when I read poetry from Maya Angelou. I recalled feeling as If she was talking to me face to face, it resonated with me, only few poets can make me cry or touch my soul so deep. So with this over flow of emotions, thoughts and reading enthusiasm therefore led me to the works of Jamaican poet Louise Bennett Coverley who spread our patois(Native language) to the world, Emily Dickson, Langston Hughes, Tupac Shakur, Bob Marley, Tracy Chapman, Cherry Natural, Yasus Afari and Oku Onoura.

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

Jamaica is a very highly cultural place with African ancestry, British and other colonial heritages which influences our literary. So while at school you would be required to recite poems. Also, many people where I live always had their radio on so you heard a lot of poets who now are considered legends and veterans in the business. Later in classes such as English language and English literature it was the recommended reads of Chaucer, Keats, William Shakespeare, Wilde, Wordsworth, and Claude Mckay and Derek Walcott.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

I would not say it is my routine but these things I love doing and it encourages my writing. So reading all types of materials, listening roots reggae, neo soul, and afro beat music, watching detective mystery shows like Matlock and Murder she wrote and the Saint. Reasoning with friends and family about issues in my country and the world, then finally, I sit in my room reflecting of what I did, said or what happened overall. I love to self-reflect as it is a purifying process. I can write anywhere on anything. It is not something forced I have to be inspired to write. Poetry is natural for me and it is raw emotions.

5. What motivates you to write?

Writing poetry is a God-given gift so I am always inspired and motivated to do it. It is in my DNA, blood, pumping through my lungs, heart soul, body and Mind. It is just bursting out of me. My motivation is provoked by human injustices, music, aesthetics, art, stereotypes, Individuality, movies, a cocked ear (ease drop) of someone conversations, nature, religion, philosophy, just life itself is a motivation. I am a living, breathing individual who has opinions and views and I want to challenge stagnant regimes and ideologies and it is through this medium utilized to stand my ground. I am young and curious so I want to read a lot, garner knowledge and discuss them with others so I can gain clarity in hope of finding truth. In the end I want to leave a mark that I existed and no one is going to write your narrative. So only I can tell my story that when I leave earth others can read my works same as how I read others feeling inspired and motivated.

6. What is your work ethic?

In everything it requires discipline so I am always researching, surfing the net and social Media for opportunities to be in anthology or on a stage show or some volunteer project. Also, I am always practicing on my phone of audio performances. Writing is hard so I am always reading, writing and practicing for the best version of my work. One has to be mentally tough too because more than likely rejection will be many so I pray Jah for mental health to be fit and secure and of course healthy food to match the ethic.

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

They are the foundation so with strong quality writers to emulate one can only be as great as they are or aspire to be. I am definitely empowered and proud of poets who challenge stigmas or stereotypes and break barriers to be heard. So today I am very revolutionary in thoughts and poetry. My body of work when critiqued is said to be very rich, mixed and versatile of multiple varied styles and forms.

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

I love all types of writers. I am very much in tuned with Yasus Afari for informative, wit and sound power. Cherry Natural is a very lyrical lioness, she has a lot of wit about her and her stage performance is definitely something to bask in. Mutabaruka is my all-time favourite poet who disseminate edutainment (education + entertainment) he is very witty, bold, vocal and revolutionary. Other younger poets such as Jah 9 and Chronixx while they are singers I see them as excellent song writers, poets and performers, and Kolade freedom from Nigeria and Orette burke from Jamaica. Lastly, a poet who I hold dearly, Alan Jankowski, May his soul R.I.P.

9. Why I write?

My writing stems from my soul and emerges from my heart
Pumps through my lungs as it aperture through my veins
Bursting out of me, alas, I am free
So all those dreams and pain were real
Can you feel them? Can you relate to them?

Therefore, you wish to know why I write
Poetry is the cotton clouds that evaporate my tears
I write because I am broken
Torn
Ripped

Haunted by things of Hades
So you ask, why I write
I write because it is a reflection of me on paper.

Poem from (Black Gold)

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

Read, Read, Read a lot, write a lot too, do not be afraid to ask for help for when you realize your weakness, watch other writers on YouTube or if you are ready, join a writers group and ask for advice and critique. Be very strong, committed and discipline. Never stop writing. Success does not come overnight nor was Rome built in day, so practice becomes natural. Being a writer in my opinion is also a spiritual thing so it is your soul that manifest itself so I say secure your soul and let it speak freely.

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

Currently working on two audio recordings for Drystone Radio, UK, An upcoming programme by Juleus Ghunta, and preparing for Jamaican Poets school and college tour organized by Malachi Smith. For further information about my works it is accessible via

Facebook, Christena Williams, https://www.facebook.com/worldclasspoet

Amazon, Pearls Among Stones, https://www.amazon.com/Pearls-Among-Stones-christena-williams/dp/1507600453

Amazon, Black Gold, https://www.amazon.com/Black-Gold-christena-AV-williams/dp/1987616510

Amazon, Out from Babylon system: Liberation of mind, https://www.amazon.com/Out-Babylon-system-Liberation-Mind/dp/1515138178

Book Review of Out from Babylon system: Liberation of mind, http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/art-leisure/20180916/book-review-poets-defiance-stirs-imagination
Book Review of Black Gold, http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/art-leisure/20180819/book-review-cries-anguish-cries-hope-voice-christena-williams

Book Review of Pearls Among Stones, https://readersfavorite.com/book-review/pearls-among-stones

Another Review of Pearls Among Stones, http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20140427/arts/arts2.html

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Pippa Little 

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.

twist cover

Pippa Little

is a Scot born in Tanzania who has been settled in the North East for over twenty years. The Spar Box, from Vane Women, was a PBS Pamphlet Choice. Other pamphlets include The Snow Globe, Red Squirrel Press, Our Lady of Iguanas, Black Light Engine Room Press and Foray, Biscuit Press, an exploration of women Border Reivers. Her most recent full collection, Twist, came out in February 2017 from Arc and was shortlisted for The Saltire Society Poetry Collection of the Year. Overwintering, published by OxfordPoets/Carcanet, was shortlisted for The Seamus Heaney Centre Prize in 2012. She is currently working on her next collection. She has a Hawthornden Fellowship, has won many awards, been published widely in  magazines, anthologies, online, on radio and film across the world and has read her work as far and wide as StAnza Poetry Festival in Scotland and in Mexico City. She reviews, edits, co-translates poetry and is a founding member of Carte Blanche, a women’s writing workshop in Newcastle. She is a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Newcastle University.

The Interview

  1. When and Why did you start writing poetry?

I started writing stories and making books with drawings when I was quite young, along with my sister. I won a poetry comp when I was about 10 which set me off on poetry as a form but I also wrote short stories, song lyrics (with no music!) and three novels (one a children’s book) – but my first love is really poetry and that’s what I have stuck with for over 40 years now!

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

My father, who always loved poetry and for whom it was an important part of his bookish and thoughtful life – he used to read me poems at bedtime as a child: we began with RL Stevenson, AA Milne and later went through the work of many of his favourite poets, the ones I recall now being GM Hopkins, Edward Thomas, Hardy, Houseman…after I left home at 16 he sent me every week in the post one of a series of about 20 very small booklets he collected from the local bookshop, ranging from Thomas Wyatt to Marianne Moore – I still have them. He had been in WW2 and had lost friends, including the poet Sidney Keyes, so he also introduced me to war poets – Keith Douglas in particular. I don’t remember doing much poetry at school…but I did write my own from quite early on, and because of my father (though I never showed any of it to him!)

3. Of the poets you remember him introducing you to who were you most drawn to?

GM Hopkins – the musicality and oddness of his poetry fascinated me and I just thought it was beautiful..but one poem I remember very vividly is his ‘Felix Randal’, about this gentle giant of a blacksmith whose first line asks ‘is he dead then?’ – I really felt as if I knew him, and his world. The same with ‘Adlestrop’ by Edward Thomas – a whole world revealed mysteriously through layers of word-sounds and images.

3.1 Did you try to imitate them?

I certainly wanted to make pleasing and interesting sound patterns and to create vivid and tangible pictures but I felt quite early on that what I wanted to write wasn’t going to be in formal rhyme schemes…my father was very widely read but his taste was very much within the male-heavy ‘canon’ and once I began buying my own poetry books I wanted to try lots of different things.

3.2 Of the “male” heavy canon how aware were and are you of the dominating presence of older poets traditional and contemporary?

Well when I was about 12, 13, I was really into Sylvia Plath! She walked a vibrating line between the academy, being formally accomplished, wanting to excel and yet feeling that the established ‘canon’ she was so eager to join involved making light of a great deal of work from voices with important and difficult things to say. I know there is a huge generalisation involved here as to what might constitute a
‘canon’ as a body of work, and it wasn’t until I was 18 that I began to read feminist literary theory which deconstructed it, but I did feel there was an unacknowledged weight of expectation and ‘achieving a standard’ which came from my father’s own very serious classical education and learning! Later when I was researching for my phd I was very moved by an account Adrienne Rich gave of her relationship with her father which sounded very like mine – very loving yet with a great deal of ambivalence.

3.3 Ambivalence?

I think for Rich it was political as well as sexual, wanting to be the ‘good daughter’ and yet knowing that would mean negating or at least limiting the full free expression of herself. Maybe what I am thinking about though is just that weight of approval, and of fulfilling hopes or ambitions of a parent (a male parent).I never showed my father my poems as they seemed too personal, too revealing…I was almost ashamed of them. I felt, rightly or wrongly, that I’d taken off in a direction he wasn’t all that sure about! To be fair though I never showed work to my mother either – for years I was a closet writer, sending poems away and getting them published, even winning prizes, but not being open about them at all with my friends and family. So maybe the ambivalence goes wider than just my father and our relationship…

4. What is your daily writing routine?

I don’t have a writing routine and don’t write every day, but I think about writing every day, usually when walking with the dog I’ll mull over something and work stuff through. I write in notebooks with a very thin black pen or on to the pc. I always edit on the pc, keep drafts and print them out so I can decide about anything from commas or dashes or such to revising/­re-ordering whole chunks. At the moment I’m putting a third collection together and have lots of printed sheets in a book of clear sleeves so I can re-arrange, take out, add, etc. I go to a writing workshop on a Thursday and I love that – a group of us all concentrating around a long table, we all contribute energy to the writing and then we have a great time discussing what we’ve done! I’d like to be more organised – I have made attempts at the ‘room of my own’ thing but I really prefer to write downstairs on the sofa, with the dog, or at the pc, rather than be tucked away. Though I do like the office I have as a RLF fellow at Newcastle University. It feels good to be away from home and part of a literary community.

5. What motivates you to write?

it’s strange, I just feel a compulsion to do it.there are many reasons: it helps make sense of life, gives life some meaning; it’s a way of trying to be the best person I can be by telling my truth, being honest and open (I’m very much in awe of Carolyn Forche’s ‘poetry of witness’); of creating something pleasing, hopefully beautiful; in patterning and structuring, crafting a piece of work, honing and sleekening it (or making it edgy, disruptive); having fun; getting lots of emotions out on the page; making connections…reachi­ng others. To leave something behind. Even though I know that like so many others my writing will probably disappear without trace!

5.1 Poetry of witness’?

[Forché’s work emerges from a tradition of 20th Century European poetry in which political circumstances pervade the poem and necessarily complicate the extent to which the poet can exercise agency. Among other things, the essay offers examples from Miklos Radnóti, Paul Celan and Nazim Hikmet to introduce American readers to a kind of poetry that emerges from concerns that cannot be defined as exclusively private or public.]

Carolyn Forché

Poetry of witness presents the reader with an interesting interpretive problem. We are accustomed to rather easy categories: we distinguish between “personal” and “political” poems – the former calling to mind lyrics of love and emotional loss, the latter indicating a public partisanship that is considered divisive, even when necessary. The distinction between the personal and the political gives the political realm too much and too little scope; at the same time, it renders the personal too important and not important enough. If we give up the dimension of the personal, we risk relinquishing one of the most powerful sites of resistance. The celebration of the personal, however, can indicate a myopia, an inability to see how larger structures of the economy and the state circumscribe, if not determine, the fragile realm of the individual.

We need a third term, one that can describe the space between the state and the supposedly safe havens of the personal. Let us call this space “the social.” As North Americans we have been fortunate: wars for us (provided we are not combatants) are fought elsewhere, in other countries. The cities bombed are other people’s cities. The houses destroyed are other people’s houses. We are also fortunate in that we do not live under martial law; there are nominal restrictions on state censorship; our citizens are not sent into exile. We are legally and juridically free to choose our associates, and to determine our communal lives. But perhaps we should not consider our social lives as merely the products of our choice: the social is a place of resistance and struggle, where books are published, poems read, and protest disseminated. It is the sphere in which claims against the political order are made in the name of justice.

By situating poetry in this social space, we can avoid some of our residual prejudices. A poem that calls us from the other side of a situation of extremity cannot be judged by simplistic notions of “accuracy” or “truth to life.” It will have to be judged, as Ludwig Wittgenstein said of confession, by its consequences, not by our ability to verify its truth. In fact, the poem might be our only evidence that an event has occurred: it exists for us as the sole trace of an occurrence. As such, there is nothing for us to base the poem on, no independent account that will tell us whether or not we can see a given text as being “objectively” true. Poem as trace, poem as evidence.

From Carolyn Forché, “Twentieth Century Poetry of Witness,” American Poetry Review 22:2 (March-April 1993), 17.

I got to know Carolyn when she came to Newcastle but I had admired and loved her poetry from eayrs before. She supported a group here called The Cold Boat which works with refugees and artists/poets. Another poet of witness is Ilya Kaminsky, from the Ukraine but now in US.

Her book Against Forgetting: 20th Century Poetry of Witness came out in 1993. She lived and worked and wrote in ElSalvador during the 70s. Her poem ‘The Colonel’ from that time is very haunting.

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

I go back to them – Neruda, Lorca, Basho, Wang Wei, Rumi, Hafiz…I’ve returned to reading Plath after keeping away from her for years, and I have a few anthologies of ‘old’ poems I enjoy revisiting. But I’m excited by work being written now – it feels such an urgent time where words really matter. Poets like Terrence Hayes, Jericho Brown, Natalie Diaz, Joy Harjo, Sophie Collins, Claudia Rankine. Then there are the women poets I loved and still go to – Audre Lorde, Rich, Elizabeth Bishop, Emily Dickinson, Margaret Atwood.

7. Can you expand on those of today’s writers you admire the most and why?

I admire writers who create compelling worlds which somehow illuminate and heighten the ‘real’ everyday we all live…that holds for writers not just of poetry but of prose and memoir such as Anne Tyler and Karl Ove Knaussgaard, both of whom I’m reading just now. Poets who cast spells on me include Transtromer, John Burnside, Li-Young Lee, Jean Earle, Akhmatova…off the top of my head. I’m sure I’ll kick myself for forgetting more…but writing that is big, sees far, make big joins and speaks out, even quietly, and has a sophisticated, subtle understanding of the political, the personal, the spiritual’s interweaving.

8. Why do you write?

I love words and enjoy deciding on my versions of ‘the best words in the best order’ (can’t recall whose definition this was of poetry?)

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

I’d say you become a writer by doing it, over and over again, learning and failing and sharpening your skills, and the hard part is writing what you want and need to say, and learning what that is (and how and when it changes). Quite a lonely thing but reading others’ work and being part of a wider writing community is equally important I’d say, going along to readings, joining a workshop or group, sending work out and having it rejected but keeping going…even through those sloughs of despond when you can’t see the point – they do pass. I’d also say, experiment with forms and how to craft a sonnet, villanelle, etc., even if you want to write free verse. It all helps! Develop your own voice, your own outlook, your distinctive style…

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

Mainly I’m working on my third collection which is still in an early stage but I do have a sense of what it’s ‘about’ in a very general sense and the shape it may take eventually. Other than that I have a group of poems about sea glass (where I live, the NE coast, has a long history of glass making and is a great place to find seaweathered bits on the beaches) which still has a long way to go, and a sequence of poems exploring an imaginary friendship between two ‘real’ women, one an artist of the 20th century and the other an architect of the early 19th…don’t know if this will work out. Apart from that I do reviews now and then, when asked to, and write poems when something comes to me.

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Vivien Jones

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.

Vivien Jones

Vivien writes short stories, poetry and plays. Her first poetry collection – About Time, Too – was published in September 2010 by Indigo Dreams Publishing. She also won the Poetry London Prize that year. A second collection – Short of Breath – was published in 2012 (Cultured Llama Press) She has twice performed as a Poetry Double  with Jacob Polley and Jen Hadfield. She has  two short fiction collections in print, and numerous other publication credits, nationally and internationally. She currently divides her writing time between creating award-winning plays and devising and leading writing workshops – especially in museums and historic properties.

The Interview

1. What inspired you  to write poetry?

Not so much inspired, as required to, when as a mature student at the University of Glasgow (Crichton Campus)  I took a Creative Writing course with the poet, Tom Pow, I was asked to produce a portfolio of six poems. I had written poetry as a teenager, with plenty of angst and little restraint, and
even had them read at the old Traverse Theatre when it was in the Grassmarket in Edinburgh, but I had written no poetry since. ‘Write what you know,’ everyone said, so my first pieces explored no grand themes but were about cooking and nurture, and family life. Once started I couldn’t stop and with the generous encouragement of Tom and my fellow students I began to extend my range. This was thirteen years ago and I have been writing poetry amongst other things ever since.

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

At Plympton Grammar School in Devon, two of my English teachers, the intimidating ‘spinster’ (that’s how she proudly described herself) Miss Blake and the rebellious Jack Bevan put books my way – the classics of English poetry from Miss Blake; the mischievous questing of comtemporary poets
from Jack. So I learnt respect for form from one and the fact that anything and everything is fit subject of poetry from the other.

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

I didn’t know any actual poets at that time – once I did in 1960s Edinburgh the ones I met were all men and pretty egotistical. They would flirt but not engage in conversation about literature with someone so young and female.
I have always remembered my astonishment at reading the verse of Gerard Manley Hopkins and the warmth of recognition in the poetry of DH Lawrence.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

I’m very fortunate in having ‘a room of my own’.   My husband and I are both self-employed and work at home so I can write at will. I do a lot of writing project leading so much of my work is planning and organising. reviewing and editing. I’m also one of three editors of our regional arts magazine called
‘Southlight’. I’m more likely to write for myself in the mornings after a prolonged shared breakfast when he heads for his workshop and I head to my room.

5. What motivates you to write?

The non-stop picture show in my head. It was only when I resumed writing at university that I realised that not everyone has this experience. When a particular idea strikes me I seem able to pause the action and examine it – thus when I write about my childhood I’m seeing it with sound and colour.
I feel I have to do something with such vivid stimulus.

6. What is your work ethic?

I’m a fast worker – too fast sometimes, I have to make myself work at review  and re-drafting, but I’m also a hard worker and like the projects I lead to be well-planned and structured. I like to work in peer groups and spend time in making sure that everyone has a voice and equal speaking time. This is very important with new writers who need to work from where they are. For my own work I have a couple of trusted writing friends who are also good, honest critics.
7. How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today ?Reading and drawing were such important parts of my childhood, much of my playtime spent in one of the other, so my reading was absorbed into my growing self very deeply. I don’t really know that I can identify what influence they were except to say I loved the writers who wrote of real life rather than talking animals (eg though I have come to admire the later Mrs Heelis, I couldn’t stand the tweeness of Beatrix Potter or many of the children’s classics  – I think the fame of such books often reflect the love of adults looking back) and it’s been a strong thread in my own writing. So it was probably the feisty books I found to read to my sons that pleased me more

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

Toni Morrison – for ‘Beloved’ especially, in which she explores each corner of the human heart in all its complexity. I re-read it, at least in part, most years. Alice Walker for similar reasons.

John Le Carré – for the eloquence of his prose and the fine detail in the ideas he pursues.

Jackie Kay – especially her poetry which looks at difference in ways which broaden understanding. She is one of very few writers who can write about music and its intoxication.

Philip Pullman – for his fresh, unsentimental imagination used to create a fabled world for children (and adults) and for his fierce defence of the need for children to read quality literature.

Not many truly of ‘today’, not because I don’t read them but because it takes me time to take them in and I realise there are few poets in my list. That’s because I find it hard to measure poetry against itself. In no special order I also like :

Ian Banks, Sebastion Faulks, Alice Munro, William Boyd

9. Why do you write?

I want to leave something behind. Being a young woman in the 1970s first wave of feminism had a deep and lasting effect on my desire to write of women’s experience where it differed hugely from men’s, and was largely unvoiced. I felt there were gentle things to say, subtle negotiations to be made and I wanted to make a plea for equality between genders rather than
replacing the dominance of one over the other. I think we need to learn to love each other from a stance of respect which makes demands of both, and teach our children those values. So I write to persuade.

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

Write. Read. Listen. Join a writing group, preferably in person but there are lots online. Construct a writer’s CV by sending work to a steadily expanding list of publications. Not sure about entering competitions which can be expensive and are totally unpredictable but if that’s something that appeals then try that. There are lots of pamphlet competitions which could be a first step, and can be added to that CV. Once you have some history of publication apply to be on your national equivalent of the Scottish Book Trust Live Literature scheme, which will allow you financial support to go to writing groups and schools as a leader.  My advice would be don’t self-publish – I know many people do and there’s less stigma about it these days but it remains unedited, and can disqualify the work from counting when making funding applications. But above all, write.

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

Drama : ‘Transgressions’ – two short plays in performance in November 2018

Poetry : ‘Finding a Voice’ – working with other writers giving voice to the women subjects of 19th/20th century photgraphs for display in the Ewart Library, Dumfries. November 2019, and development as a theatre piece.

‘Records of War’ – an 18th month project in Annan and Dumfries with writers
in response to an exhibition at both museums on WW1. Also an associated reading event – ‘Little is known….’ based on the centena I wrote for the Imperial War Museum/26 Writers Collective Armistace event. November 2018.

Title TBC : writing project with Gracefield Art Gallery, responding to 19th/20th century paintings by women. March 2019.

‘ Embedded’ Putting together a third poetry collection – have a potential publisher interested. 2019/20
Details :

http://www.vivienjones.info
https://www.facebook.com/vivien.jones1?fref=ts&ref=br_tf
http://www.southlight.ukwriters.net
e-mail : vivien@freeola.com

Publications :

Poetry – collections
‘Hare’ erbacce press 2008
‘Something in the Blood’ Lapwing Press 2008
‘About Time, Too’  Indigo Dreams 2010
‘Short of Breath’ Cultured Llama 2014
Short Stories – collections

‘Perfect 10’  Pewter Rose Press* 2009
‘White Poppies’  Pewter Rose Press 2012

*Pewter Rose Press closed down in 2017
I still have some copies of both collections.

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Carolyn Srygley-Moore

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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Carolyn Srygley-Moore

is the author of 5 books of poetry, to include Miracles of the Blog and Reading Backwards Through The Yellow. Her interests include photography, visual art; and advocacy for dogs, especially breeds whose survival is threatened by BSL. Breed specific legislation targets, largely, Pitbulls and Pitbull type dogs. She is a graduate of Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins University, where she won awards for her poetry.
She is a best of the Web and pushcart nominee. She is a mom, a wife, she loves to swim. Her upcoming book, Ode to Horatio and other saviors, crisis Chronicles Press, will be available soon!

The Interview

1. When and why did you start writing poetry?

i started writing poetry when i was rather young, six or seven; very bad nursery rhyme like creatures i would read aloud to my family on Christmas Eve, as each family member played a purpose. in 6th grade i was actually given a best poet “award” and had a couple pieces published in the local paper. however i inclined to the visual arts in junior high and high school, and really only fell in love, truly with language one night my Freshman year at Hopkins. I was hanging out with two friends and their dog, listening to saxophone spiraling Joni Mitchell, i may have been high? — & i fell in love, hard, with sound & cadence & significance etc that connoted true poetry, not Mitchell’s version, but a glimpse of what i could, myself, engage. i believe poetry, true, the why of it: initially was a safe place in an uncertain home, and still is a safe place, in an uncertain world. there is nothing more wonderful to me, than having the opportunity to write, fully, to my greatest capacity. not only fun, it is or can be meaningful, if and when received by those who engage the piece, in time.

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

Poetry was of course introduced to me by the schools, my mother, and one of my brothers (who encouraged my writing and my visual arts). i always found that schools were rigid and limiting in the question “what does a poem mean” where the question should be “what does a poem mean to you?” I recall in 9th grade being turned off of poetry, for i received a poor grade for turning in my interpretation of a poem, which differed from the teacher’s interpretation. i found it, not upsetting, but terribly annoying. when readers ask me what one of my poems mean, i say let it wash over you, the sounds, the syllables, imbue you outside in; what do you endure, what do you perceive? it is really a whole lot more fun, that way!

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

interesting question/ the dominating presence of other voices. well, i am in constant rebellion against that domination. i want my voice to be unique, with integrity that it ensue from me, directly, Harold Bloom’s book The Anxiety of Influence struck me, when i read it one summer, 19. As Nietzsche killed off Wagner, don’t we writers kill off those who influence us most, that we might own our own voice? I killed off Elliot, Joyce. Even in high school. in a conversation with my teacher, i said i was afraid to read, i wanted my voice to be pure. this mindset of course makes me smile. i am well read, but mostly of the dead: being imbued by contemporary writers annoys me. i am terrible. the strong voices, i think, or the ones who kill nobody off in the search for originality. they are the brave souls. i have my days, moments, years — of this, of being brave.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

I write all day. I write whenever i can. it’s pretty simple.

5. What motivates you to write?

The significance of writing is, to me, finding voice: voice for myself, an articulation that cannot be formed through the spoken word // voice for others, the underdog, the victim. i was raised in a home touched by domestic violence and alcoholism (i am myself a recovering alcoholic, 23 years), i saw the victim role, i saw the role and example of my mom, a strong woman only recently passed, stand up for her dignity and the dignity of her children. this inspires me. animals disparaged, made the underdog, fighting for the survival of their breed, inspire me to voice. any occasion that seems unfair, erroneous…i am heavily influenced by poets of the second world war, pre, during, and post; surrealism too propelled me through my creative boundaries. a word, a situation, a sound — motivate, inspire. they say a writer must be constantly vigilant, for that spark, and i think that is a penultimate truth.

6. What is your work ethic?

i guess, in terms of work ethic, I believe if you work very, very hard, and maintain both your passion and your discipline, something good will come of it. i’ve been fortunate. i have 5 books, publishers have taken interest in my work; my weakness lies in ignorance regarding how to promote my books. i haven’t accomplished a reading since my child was born — 19 years ago.

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

As i mentioned above, my boundaries in terms of beauty and theme were destroyed by classical writers — Proust, WIlde, Joyce — and later works by the first generation of the Surrealist movement, and by poets of the second world war, especially Milosz. i am constantly in reference to his plaid bathrobe, which he wore while seated by a window overlooking the seas  these writers stay with me. Neruda, Lorca — of course, one must laud these — but, perhaps because of my exposure to indecency and violence, most moved me, into understanding even the unfairness (ie., how the migrant workers and immigrants have been treated by this administration) of our current affairs.

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

i took French throughout high schools and college, and i regret it. the literature a poetry being propagated by the Spanish speaking countries is phenomenal. t hey invented Magical Realism, as far as i know, and as its mother, they have forged paths never before seen. Isabelle Allende, for example, is the name that sticks with me. facebook also, is a miracle of wonderful artistry. my favorite poets there are Donna Snyder, Aad de Gids, and David Mclean

9.  Why do you write?

I write in search of Voice and articulation — of my own world, of the world endured and enjoyed by others. i write to make sense of chaos, to name, in naming to make tidy, the chaos that lies within myself, and in the world around me. i am full of disorder, and disorder needs a placemat, a place to lay the morning headlines, the bowl, the knife and spoon. perhaps it serves for me, as religion might serve for others. once, i was writing a poem in the middle of a party held by a rriend; a friend walked up and put his hand on my shoulder: “And Carolyn,” he said, “you say you are not religious?”

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

i don’t know. discover your own cadence of creation, find a way to fit it, into the turmoil, and Just do it, as both Nike and Emerson say. respect language, for she is a tigress, and she will respect you. read. read but be careful, for you own voice might be eaten alive!  No. but make sure you return from that place to which your reading transports you, with your own voice, if richer, still intact.
11. Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.

i have a bunch of projects going on at the moment! I still try to get my favorite books i authored out there (Miracles of the Blog; Reading backward through the yellow.) I have two private projects going on, one primarily for mom, inspired by her love, her illness and her release. they are hybrid pieces, and will be indented by my photographs. most important however, the book to be published shortly (delayed due to my spell of grief) called Ode to Horatio and Other Saviors. I am an animal rights advocate / when i can afford to take a day off work, i go to the rallies in NYC, where the killing of adoptable dogs is outrageous and inhumane. On facebook we do fight to save these dogs, and sometimes manage to do so! BSL (breed specific legislation) is something i fight, we, figiht. my book has to do with euthanasia, of dogs: the death of Horatio was the first unfair euthanasia i witnessed; the euthanasia of our dog Evy, in 2012, was another death I had a hard time contending with. The book is a month in the poet’s life:, demonstration the emotional and creative compression, surrounding the before, during, and after of Evy’s death. it is not a book entirely of grief, there is beauty and joy, and will not i imagine be received with neutral arms. Crisis Chronicles Press will be its publisher: it is a book that has morphed often, and has been a long time in the making.

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Terry McDonagh

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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Terry McDonagh

taught creative writing at Hamburg University and was Drama Director at the International School Hamburg. He’s published ten poetry collections as well as letters, drama, prose and poetry for young people. His work has been translated into German and Indonesian (Arts Council funded). 2015: shortlisted for Poetry Society National Poetry award and Gregory O’Donoghue poetry prize. 2016: poetry collection, Lady Cassie Peregrina – Arlen House. 2017: included in Fire and Ice 2, Gill Education for Junior Cycle. 2017: poem, UCG by Degrees, included in Galway Poetry Trail on Galway University Campus. 2017: Director of WestWords, Irish literature festival in Hamburg. 2018: latest poetry collection, Fourth Floor Flat – 44 Cantos, published in September by Arlen House.

The Interview

1. What inspired you to write poetry?

I grew up in Cill Aodain, Co Mayo and was always very conscious of the presence of the blind poet, Anthony Raftery (1778 – 1835). My great grandfather, Thady Conlon, who had translated Raftery’s poem, Cill Aodain, was somewhere in the background as well. Then there were the ballad singers and storytellers. I didn’t like school very much but I had an uncle that kept Raftery, Thady Conlon and fairy stories alive. Later I became aware of poets like Michael Hartnet, Matthew Sweeney, Philip Casey, Beat Poetry and many others and it went from there.
In short, there were many inputs and reasons why I chose poetry. I’d go so far as to say that we are chosen by life or genetics or inheritance to carry on a tradition. Who knows?

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

As I’ve already said, my background and my uncle played a major role in my life as a poet. I studied in UCG (Now NUIG) and came in contact with poets and dramatists. And when I went to live in Hamburg I was lucky enough to come in contact with like minds. This led to Olaf Hille Verlag (publishing house) and to my first poetry collection, THE ROAD OUT in the early nineties.

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

As I’ve already said, I was conscious of Raftery and my great grandfather who had translated Raftery’s great poem Cill Aodain. Yeats and all the rest were very vague.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

I like to write in the mornings for a few hours when I’m not doing workshops or traveling. I suppose writing is always in my head. It is not just a conscious act.

5. What motivates you to write?

Hard to say. I like it and I enjoy the community of poets. They’re an odd lot and that is how I like it.

6. What is your work ethic?

Writing poetry is hard work and you can only have a degree of success if you are dedicated and prepared for rejection. It is not romantic.

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

Like all children I liked stories and tales…and I loved cowboy books and comics. That’s about it.

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

There are many. These are a few of them:

Moya Cannon is a writer I really admire. She is a quiet voice who creates wonderful pictures.

Matthew Sweeney (RIP) is the Kafka of Irish poetry. Quirky, exciting and precise.

American poet, Billy Collins, because of his humour and unusual way of looking at his world. Very accessible as well.

Paul Durcan because he has challenged the structure of poetry…he turns language upside down and he is very amusing and truthful.

9. Why do you write?

Because I enjoy it. I have had some success to help keep me going when I doubted myself.

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

Write. Get to know other writers and writing groups. Don’t stop.

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

I have written 15 books in all. My latest poetry collection, FOURTH FLOOR FLAT, had just been published – publisher Arlen House. At the moment I am working on some drama scripts. My website: http://www.terry-mcdonagh.com

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Michael Lee Johnson

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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Michael Lee-Johnson

lived 10 years in Canada during the Vietnam era and is a dual citizen of the United States and Canada.  Today he is a poet, freelance writer, amateur photographer, and small business owner in Itasca, Illinois.  Mr. Johnson published in more than 1042 new publications, his poems have appeared in 38 countries, he edits, publishes 10 poetry sites.  Michael Lee Johnson, has been nominated for 2 Pushcart Prize awards poetry 2015/1 Best of the Net 2016/2 Best of the Net 2017, 1 Best of the Net 2018.  170 poetry videos are now on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/user/poetrymanusa/videos.  Editor-in-chief poetry anthology, Moonlight Dreamers of Yellow Haze:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/1530456762; editor-in-chief poetry anthology, Dandelion in a Vase of Roses available here   https://www.amazon.com/dp/1545352089.  Editor-in-chief Warriors with Wings:  the Best in Contemporary Poetry, http://www.amazon.com/dp/1722130717.

The Interview

1.  What inspired you to write poetry?

A better question would be to ask me why I was born or choice to live or die.  I don’t know if anyone really knows why or what inspires them to write poetry.  Do you?  I’m not sure if it is gift or a cure.  When younger and emotional unstable, dipping into crime, exile to Canada Vietnam War, it was a curse and a release to stay alive; now more mature, stable it’s a blessing, a legacy, something to share.

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

My emotions introduced me to poetry in 1968.  The oppressive feeling of being drafted on my back into the Vietnam worthless war, leaving a first wife and child, losing a student deferment also created an introduction to poetry.

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

My introduction to older poets (now that I’m old 71 years’ days passing) wasn’t thinking about their age or past but what I was reading at the time over coffee, laid back, I was more engulfed in the words I saw in print the present living picture of their lives, the emotional imagery they left behind.  If you are referring to who my older poets I admired and took on unknowingly me as their mentors, Carl Sandburg, Leonard Cohen, and Margret Atwood, Canada, in her early days, Sylvia Plath, and Sara Teasdale.  I will hide in the corner but yes, even Rod McKuen.  As of the last 5 years I would add, Charles Bukowski whom I have been compared with though street oriented I think I’m milder than the rough beard of Bukowski.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

I don’t have a daily writing routine, if I did I couldn’t continue to be a rebel, and trust me, in the beginning I was, and now with and elderly approach, a touch of conservatism have drawn back slightly.  Routines, I don’t do that; routines are for people who work 9 to-5 as Dolly Parton reminds us of.  9 to 5 I don’t do that anymore, I’m self-employed follow my own script within these chains of freedom.  My life isn’t on a fixed schedule, I write many beginner poems and save them but they’re not on a schedule-they pop up when they feel like it though I try to monitor them.

5. What motivates you to write?

This is simple answer for me, I want to leave a legacy behind my backdoor beyond my cremated bones in an urn.  With age I have learned “whatever success is”, it’s helped along with helping others.  Besides, I prefer to be buried with some of my poems in the hope of rising with Christ, if eaten by worms while I wait is my destiny ‘worm’ on.

6. What is your work ethic?

Traditionally speaking, I don’t have a work ethic as most refer to it.  My personal work ethic, though it may layer over others, my work ethic if I have one it to help others since I know it helps me, to be as honest as possible without inflicting undue hurt or brutal honest.  To hope many of my present and left poems have an impact, hit a sensitive spot in the heart of my readers and listening audience-since I do many audio poems.

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

Simple, the same way they did then only I have their pictures on a bulletin board in front of my computer to look at as a reminder.

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

This is the most difficult question in this interview, what do you have to refer to?  It is in the present?  I run multi Facebook poetry groups with some of the absolute best contemporary poets I know in this world today, I have published many of them.  To list them would be to leave someone special out and I refuse to do that.

9. Why do you write?

A better question is how I resist writing.  My language choices are common; I don’t have the huge IQ, however, thoughts and images come to my mind constantly.  They seem very simple to me and come freely of their own choice.

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

How do you distinguish desire from flame, emotions messed up into words, how do you explain a belief and turn it into a legacy?  You work your ass-off and have enough confidence to tell editors you’re for real whether they want to believe in your or not.  If not, expressed with a bad tone of voice, delete them and add 5 more poetry publications to take their place and move on.  It’s not like we are getting rich as poets…just some remembered when we/they/I are gone.

11. Tell me about writing projects you are involved in now or resent past?

I’m always buried in projects lucky to get to one, lucky to get one done.  I’m forever coming up with new ideas.  I have published 3 Facebook group poetry anthologies along with Co-Editor Ken Allan Dronsfield:

I have several Facebook poetry groups I administer:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/807679459328998/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1782986578682087/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/298159804125145/

I have over 6 poetry chapbooks of my own poems that have been neglected and I’m hoping to bring them to live and publication before I pass.  I’m also considering a 4th poetry group anthology in the starter stage.  I have over 170 YouTube poetry videos up and running here:  https://www.youtube.com/user/poetrymanusa/videos.

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Anthony Gorman

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 Gormsn

introduces himself On his WordPress site:
I am a Social Worker by day and an artist/writer by night. I use the written word in an attempt to make sense of the secret worlds and dysfunctional dynamics that lurk beneath the facades of our daily interactions. I am not sure how my writing styles are characterized, nor am I overly concerned about it. I am immensely enthusiastic about music and often connect better with songs than I do people. I also have an intense appreciation for quality wines and whiskies, frequently consuming them in excess. I like things that smell good and struggle to manage the symptoms of a life-long relationship with depression. So, why “grumpygorman”? Spend some time here and find out…

The Interview

1. When and why did you start writing poetry?

I started when I was hospitalized during an episode of psychosis..and have since. It’s better therapy than any formalized incarnation of it has ever been. I write now because it’s my lifeblood..and it’s one tangible thing I have to share with the world that will outlast me. The value of my poetry will be fully realized long after I am dead and gone. Right now it’s just poems

1.1 How did poetry help?

It allowed me to take my ugly and difficult feelings and process them in a way that didn’t lead to judgment of others and was less likely to land me in trouble or concern others (I didn’t share my poetry back then. It was just for my own processing)

You can be as extreme as you want in poetry.. no rules..

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

It was probably music and song lyrics. I had a loose knowledge of poets like Poe, Plath and Cummings but it was lyricists like Robert Smith of the Cure, David Bowie, Leonard Cohen and Tori Amos that demonstrated how well crafted and dramatic poetic language can lift you and transport you to somewhere otherworldly..

I am embarrassingly poorly read for someone who considers themself a poet..by most typical standards

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

I have a basic knowledge of classical poets and find that I have done more exploration of formal poetry over the last couple of years. I would say that most of my favourite posts are obscure writers I’ve stumbled upon online. Sometimes I am floored by how many relatively unknown talented poets are out there. I guess it isn’t that surprising when you consider the introvert, reclusive nature of many artists or writers. I find that it’s the loudest and most driven that makes print these days but certainly not necessarily the best. I think that my lack of exposure to poetry actually helped my own writing because I wasn’t guided by the influence of others’ works. I believe it allowed me to find my own distinct style quicker than I might have otherwise.. for better or for worse..

4. What is your daily writing routine?

I write mainly in the evening, overnight..I try writing during the day but my output is disappointing. I always write with music playing, in the same recliner chair on my laptop. I have two lamps I have replaced bulbs with blue ones and I most often burn wood scented candles.. so I write by blue light with woody fire smell. It sounds pretentious and specific, but it’s how I like it. Then I usually write a poem in barebones skeletal format.. then I nuance it with more dramatic or cryptic language.. to make it more interesting and visual to read.. I often overwork my writing, by my own admission..but I like cramming a lot of visual and language into small spaces. My poems require more than an initial read.. and those without the patience, or interest, will simply move on.. I have such an appreciation for those who read and share their thoughts about my writing because I know they’ve had to truly engage with it…and that’s humbling.

5. What is your daily writing routine?

I write mainly in the evening, overnight..I try writing during the day but my output is disappointing. I always write with music playing, in the same recliner chair on my laptop. I have two lamps I e replaced bulbs with blue ones and I most often burn wood scented candles.. so I write by blue light with woody fire smell. It sounds pretentious and specific, but it’s how I like it. Then I usually write a poem in barebones skeletal format.. then I nuance it with more dramatic or cryptic language.. to make it more interesting and visual to read.. I often overwork my writing, by my own admission..but I like cramming a lot of visual and language into small spaces. My poems require more than an initial read.. and those without the patience, or interest, will simply move on.. I have such an appreciation for those who read and share their thoughts about my writing because I know they’ve had to truly engage with it…and that’s humbling

6. What motivates you to write?

I wouldn’t say in motivated to write as much as it feels like necessity. I do feel like putting art into the world is a beneficial thing as it does open minds, makes people think and adds colour and challenge to a world built so much on rules and homogeny. Perhaps someone can relate to the emotions being expressed and can feel less alone…the way I did with music when I was young but those are wishes. I am not under any belief or assumption that my poetry does anything beyond help me process my complex emotions. Regarding poetry topics…I am inspired my people and their complex good and evil natures…how good people do bad things and how bad people are capable of good..the grey areas of personal interaction..pain, loss, loneliness, love,joy..universal emotions.

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

I didn’t really read writers much when I was young like I stated previously, but my favourite lyricists inspired me to try to find different ways of trying to craft or express how I feel, beyond the obvious. Seeing how others were able to create magical escapes simply through words and images…prompted me to try to think of things in different ways.. bend the rules on regular thoughts.

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

I would say it’s many of the obscure indie poets hidden in the books if WordPress that gave my respect. The ones that write because they have passion for it, share it because they wish to…but don’t try to step over other poets or become a walking self promotion add in order to have a piece considered for a poetry magazine. There’s a poet that goes by the name erroneous choices, another that writes for Sudden Denouement poetry collective that I would consider my favourites. Women poets, often with lived experience with trauma’s work seems to resonate with me.. I’ve developed. Greater appreciation for Oscar Wilde and Lou Reed as of late..

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

You just write..and write what’s true to you..the second to try to write like someone or attempt to “be something” is the moment you cease to succeed. This isn’t to say you don’t try different things and push yourself to improve and grow ..but it’s gotta come from you, to be worth something to the world (in my opinion). What the world lacks is unique voices, not competent recreations of what’s already there..Practice, force yourself to writer even when you don’t want to. Develop self-discipline. Write to learn and for the process, not the product. If you write authentically, the poems will come. Ask other writers for feedback and be open to what they have to say. This isn’t to say that you incorporate all feedback into your writing..but listen.. ask questions and learn from others that do. Be generous, help promote and elevate other writers you appreciate. Be real, be humble and be grateful.

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

You just write..and write what’s true to you..the second to try to write like someone or attempt to “be something” is the moment you cease to succeed. This isn’t to say you don’t try different things and push yourself to improve and grow ..but it’s gotta come from you, to be worth something to the world (in my opinion). What the world lacks is unique voices, not competent recreations of what’s already there..Practice, force yourself to writer even when you don’t want to. Develop self-discipline. Write to learn and for the process, not the product. If you write authentically, the poems will come. Ask other writers for feedback and be open to what they have to say. This isn’t to say that you encoporate all feedback into your writing..but listen.. ask questions and learn from others that do. Be generous, help promote and elevate other writers you appreciate. Be real, be humble and be grateful.

11. And finally, Anthony, tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.

I’ve had a longstanding idea to release a poetry book combined with my visual art. Unfortunately in a big idea person and get bogged down in details and have trouble getting organized to follow through. The unpredictable nature of my mental health can also make it a challenge. I’ve been chatting with some fellow poets about the creation of a new poetry collective but it’s in the very beginning stages. For the most part, I continue to write on my WordPress page. I have a modest, but very engaged and loyal group of readers who are undying in their support. I am a small scale poet and due to my introverted nature and the “eccentricity” and the unusual topic/theme and mood jumping my writing does, I don’t think I’ll ever likely gain a mass or mainstream following, and I am mostly ok with that.  (Though my bank account might disagree with that statement.) Thanks for taking the time to ask me questions. It was a pleasure sharing thoughts with you. All the best, Paul.

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.

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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
http://www.beckynuttall.com
https://www.facebook.com/becky.artist/
https://www.facebook.com/stanzaextravaganza/

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

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Mike Zone

F WORD WARNING

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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Mike Zone

Mike Zone is the author of Void Beneath the Skin, Better than the Movie: 4 Screenplays and Fellow Passengers: Public Transit Poetry, Meditations and Musings. A contributing poet to Mad Swirl and contributing writer to the graphic novel series American Anti-hero by Alien Buddha Press. His poetry and stories have appeared in: Horror Sleaze Trash, The Daily Dope Fiend, Outlaw Poetry, The Rye Whiskey Review, Synchronized Chaos and Triadæ Magazine.

links to my books.

https://www.amazon.com/Mike-Zone/e/B079GHYC1C/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1540400318&sr=8-1

https://www.amazon.com/American-Antihero-First-Red-Focks/dp/1717172717/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1540400437&sr=1-1&keywords=american+anti-hero+first+canon&dpID=51eWntQXrpL&preST=_SY291_BO1,204,203,200_QL40_&dpSrc=srch

http://www.lulu.com/shop/various-artists/tales-from-the-alien-buddha-3/paperback/product-23839126.html?fbclid=IwAR1-CO3PrdB_q53vgTQHSiTmX98-DYEBuPxK67qbKHtIQQyqXpePDVQ21q8

The Interview

1. What inspired you  to write poetry?

Isolation, frustration, a yearning to express myself without fistacuffs seeing as how it was damn near impossible to halt the multitude of situations and emotions I was feeling all at once at alarming sporadic rates at the worst of times. It’s either that or go somewhere I should not be and get stabbed. Jim Morrison was also a major inspiration when I was younger and thought myself an aspiring film-maker, I was attracted  by the music of The Doors of course the lyricism of Morrison and picked up  ​The American Night which showcased his short script “The Hitchhiker” , somehow I stumbled beyond that and the songs and became enthralled. 2. Who introduced you to poetry? To be honest, I was bullied by the same kid since first grade all the way through high school, when he started writing poetry, I had to get on the action in order to out do him in some manner. It’s something I dabbled in slightly before that for class assignment, then became a reckless teenage passion ridden with an agenda of rage that bordered on obsession.

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

I wasn’t really aware of the dominating presence of the older poets but once I got out of school and dropped out of college for a while I stumbled across more of Jack Kerouac’s work and went ga-ga over The Beats, looking at their influences and eventually came to find my own path.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

I try to write something everyday. Whether an entry in my journal or a random phrase or image. I tend to work ten to fourteen hour days, it gets hard sometimes but when I look at something fully composed there’s a sense of relief like “I can go do this” and I’m proud of it until something else is completed and then everything that came before is just shit.

5. What motivates you to write?

Discontent with the current mode of social engineering. My own shortcomings, I love science and comic books and that has played a big role in the imagery I’ve used in the past. Really anything I feel the need to draw attention to that accentuates the link between the micro and macro aspect to any situation.

6. What is your work ethic?

It used to be sporadic, going through spurts of nearly nonstop writing to hardly anything, things are steadier as I’ve learned to reconcile the biggest mistake in my life, which was working hard and being practical. Let’s be honest, if I hadn’t done that and stayed working in bars, travelling, screwing off more and paying attention more to my writing than anything I’d have been better off but a long time ago like a lot of people in Gen X, someone sold me a dream…

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

It used to be sheer admiration followed by a rueful envy and now, it’s like…that’s some good shit. I still think Bukowski , Whitman and Rumi are topnotch and sometimes to my chagrin I like to callback to Morrison for helping start it all.

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

As of late, I’ve been corresponding with so many, I feel I may be leaving someone out but here it goes: Frank Reardon, Ryan Quinn Flanagan, Ben John Smith, Amber Decker and James Casey IV…damn I know I’ve left people out…except for Scott Thomas Outlar.

9. Why do you write?

I write because I am a trite silly bastard. I’m not a pseudo intellectual prick. I’m just some fucked up thing that wants to survive and it’s a coping mechanism for me.

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

Stay out of the court system and don’t listen to anyone that tries to sell you on that work hard and be practical bullshit.

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

I’m currently writing a poem about Incredible Hulk living in the apartment below Donkey Kong…really,  I’m currently a contributing writer with Red Focks on Alien Buddha’s illustrated novel series ​American Anti-hero
​ , just finished a short story called ​Aqua-Shoes
​ and currently composing an entry to my ​Mona in Amerika
​ and Man in the Yellow Hat (​Fugitive
​ ) cycle of poems that I’d like to turn into a novel at some point.  I still dream about screenwriting too. There’s a stream of consciousness scene a day experiment. I’ve been toying around with…too many demons in my brain and so little time with Donkey Kong living above me.