Onto Writing Comedy Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Ian Woodrow

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 fiction writers you may know, others may be new to you. I hope you enjoy the experience as much as I do.
 
Ian Woodrow
 
I got into comedy when I lived in Manchester in the early 2000s. I was a contemporary of the likes of Jason Manford and Sarah Millican. They went on to fill stadiums while I went on to live in Wakefield. I didn’t perform onstage for a while after moving here for a new job, though I did perform comedy in the virtual world of Second Life for a while, which was quite fun. Then, about four years ago I got invited to see a mate from Manchester (Tony Kinsella, aka Bolshy Bard, who was performing with Bard Company) do Jackanory one time. Halima, who runs Jackanory, got wind I’d done comedy before so asked me to do a slot at an upcoming show which I was happy to accept. Since then I’ve done Jackanory a few more times, plus a couple of benefit gigs at The Red Shed, and some other general open mic nights around Wakey. Then, just over a year ago, I started my own comedy open mic night, Jockularity, which runs at Jolly Boys Real ale Cafe in the town and is Wakefield’s only monthly comedy night. I also do a comedy cooking blog, It’s Not Big, But It Is Clever, which is another outlet for my humour (though it is a serious cooking blog with actual recipes that work), but that’s taken a bit of a back seat of late as I’ve been not writing standup material at home of an evening instead of not writing blog updates.
During the day I’m a Clinical Scientist in the NHS, so as well as being a smart arse doing comedy in my spare time, I also pretend to be a smart arse for a living. As far as comedy goes, family commitments mean I’ve no ambition, nor have I the time, to go any further afield for gigs. I may have the odd foray somewhere not too far away, like Leeds maybe in the not too distant future. Links
My comedy night, Jockularity, is on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/JockularityWakey/ and Twitter @JockularityWfMy cooking blog can be found here: https://swearyfood.blogspot.com/This is a flyer for Jockularity
This is me performing at the Red Shed last year as part of We Shall Overcome
The Interview 
 
1. What inspired you to  start performing comedy?
 
My wife and I bought our first house in Swinton, near Manchester, and a local pub started doing a comedy night. They had some top headline acts but also some open spots on and I thought “i could do that”. I spoke to the guy running it, a comedian and actor called Toby Hadoke, and he arranged to get me an open spot at his weekly gig called XS Malarkey, which is often voted one of the best nights in the country. I largely died on my arse (to use the comedy vernacular), but the few laughs I did get were like heroin and I was hooked.
 
2. Who introduced you to comedy?

Toby, as mentioned above, and some of the other people who ran gigs around Manchester at that time. Besides that, the standup that got on TV in the 80s and 90s was a huge influence in giving me the kind of mind that comes up with one liners and wisecracks. The earliest comedians I remember that truly spoke to me were Billy Connolly and Dave Allen. Jasper Carrot’s style of satirical material from his show in the 80s had a big effect. Jo brand I always loved, Jack Dee, Ben Elton, Alexei Sayle, Joan Rivers, the list is endless. The Newton quote about shoulders of giants rings very true, except even with that greatness to stand on, I’m still fucking severely myopic.
 
3. How aware were you of the dominating presence of bigger acts?

There was a lovely camaraderie within the comedy circuit at the time. In the green room it’s quite egalitarian, so just hanging out with the bigger names was somehow calming.
 
4. What is your daily writing routine?

Dreadful. I’m incredibly lazy. I see that I’ve got a gig coming up (which mounts to the monthly open mic night I run in Wakefield at the moment) and try to produce a few minutes of topical material from recent news stories. I post one liners to Facebook when they occur to me and I try to use some of these in hammering out a routine
 
5. What motivates you to write?

It might be a bit of a cliché, but seeing what’s happening around me. The world and home political situation at the moment is so completely crazy, a lot of material  almost writes itself. In fact, there’s so much of the news that is so utterly bonkers that it wouldn’t make something like The Thick of It because it would have been deemed too ridiculous.
 
6. What is your work ethic?

Shoddy at best. I’m trying to form good habits and write more prolifically, spurred on by submitting material to radio shows like Newsjack on R4, but it’s a steep and slippery entropy slope to climb up. I’m a lazy fucker
 
7. How did the comedy you saw when you were young influence you today?

I’ve already mentioned a lot of the sort of thing that gave me my sense of humour. In terms of written work, Hitch Hikers Guide was a major milestone, showing me it was possible to use science to make people laugh. On film there was Laurel and Hardy, The Marx Brothers, Carry On films, Monty Python, The Airplane series. On TV there was Fawlty Towers, Not the Nine O’Clock News, Spitting Image and of course The Young Ones.
 
8. Who of today’s comedians do you admire the most and why?

I’ll lose my seat at the table of the liberal elite if I don’t say Stewart Lee. That he keeps getting primetime work is a testament to him, and also shows it’s possible to be intellectual, funny and (relatively) popular. I don’t get out much to see stand-up, but it does seem that TV is saturated with comics on panel shows, mostly white males, and largely interchangeable. I do like Katherine Ryan, Frankie Boyle, Kevin Bridges and even Jimmy Carr. Armando Ianucci is also a comedy genius and I’ve got a bit of a man-crush on Adam Hills. And, yes, I realise they are, bar one, white males, but only one of them is English and one of them is disabled.
 
9. Why do you do comedy?

It’s all about the laughs. I’m not crusading to change people’s minds about issues with a finely honed knob gag about Nigel Farage or Boris Johnson. Sure, they are dicks, but me saying that in a different, but more amusing, way isn’t going to change make you think differently about them.
 
10. What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a comedian?”

I’d say, to appropriate a corporate slogan, just do it. Find a local open mic night and give it a go. I’d also say don’t do it unprepared and don’t so it drunk. Write a routine, but make sure it’s original and practice it for days, if not weeks, before the show. Don’t rattle off a barrage Hicks, Kay, Lee or (God forbid) Manning material, find your own voice.

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

Well, as I said above, I’m fucking lazy. I’ve got long-standing attempts at a sitcom, a couple of novels and a few sketches that will almost certainly never see the light of day, at least not before I retire. I’m on the periphery of the Wakefield spoken word circuit (and met some utterly wonderful people as a result) and I’ve been fleetingly tempted to write some poetry, but it’s not really my style. I could turn a finely crafted piece of satirical verse on the current status of the UK political situation, or I could just call jacob Rees Mogg a wanker. I know which would get the bigger laugh.
 
 

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Yvonne Ugarte

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.

https://m.facebook.com/video_redirect/?src=https%3A%2F%2Fvideo-lht6-1.xx.fbcdn.net%2Fv%2Ft42.3356-2%2F33098246_1732000920221960_3409161120316029802_n.mp4%2Fvideo-1543450508.mp4%3F_nc_cat%3D105%26vabr%3D1326201%26_nc_ht%3Dvideo-lht6-1.xx%26oh%3D1e0b24e97b099d19a2750bb8a4c2c778%26oe%3D5C012830%26dl%3D1&source=messaging&id=484616205360230&refid=12&__tn__=F

Yvonne Ugarte

I am 59 years young and work part time in a local primary school. I am a performance poet and do quite a lot of the open mic sessions in and around Leeds. I have also headlined twice …one in Pudsey and one in Wakefield.

I am one of the ‘four environmental poets’ who have performed in the Piece Hall in Halifax and also, earlier this month, in Harrogate. Been in several anthologies.

I’ve been on radio several times and am due to go on Drystone Radio in February with the host David Driver.

Plus I do main events in narrative verse for the school I work in
E.g. Fire of London and The Plague ..Plus the odd bit of ventriloquism.

‘Our journey with Emil’ was a community project from earlier this year 2018 with regards to Life, Loss, Learning and Legacy. It is about our personal journey with our son who passed away just before his second birthday. His dad..my ex husband..had never cried since we first lost him in 1998 .

At the end of the video I recite a poem that I wrote in Martin House Children’s Hospice where we were after he’d passed away.
They must’ve been HIS words, telling me that he was okay as there is absolutely no way..in the grief stricken state I was in..that I could have composed something as beautiful as it is.
One thing I do know is that love lives beyond goodbye.

The Interview

1. When and why did you start writing poetry?

I wrote my first poem at the age of five. I love words….I was brought up in care so this was a way of expressing what I was feeling.

Still use words for that reason now lol.
2. Who introduced you to poetry at age five?

Nobody. Just put words together…It was about a pixie. Lol

Little Pixie..Little pixie
Playing in the grass
The morning dew must seem to you a magic looking glass

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

I went to a grammar school where English literature piqued by interest in poetry. Wordsworth…Keats..­.Byron etc. Later, I immersed myself in the works of Oscar Wilde.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

If I feel it, I write it. Sometimes getting up at 4am to scribble something down !

4.1 What makes you feel it?

Emotion. Anger…sadness…de­spair…

Joy…hope…

4.2 At what?

Loss and pain …I lost my little boy to meningitis.
Anger and sadness..went to Auschwitz and Birkenau earlier this year. Despair and hope for the plight of our planet..the incredible creatures we share it with and the plastic pollution that’s choking our world Joy at hearing a birdsong..or see the buds of promise on the trees when Spring appears

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

Their words ignited a spark inside me…I felt their passion and emotions. I do not write in the same way as any of them but I’m sure I was I influenced greatly by them over the years since my craft was developing.

Also, I was encouraged to take my writing further by my former English teacher when I was only fifteen. She saw something in my words.

5.1 Oscar Wilde, particularly?

Definitely…his wit and quotes are legendary, even used by many today. His stories and poetry have never been rivalled in my opinion.

5.2 How do you reckon he’s influenced you today?

I do try to put wit into some of my writing…he was not afraid to step.out of the box when it came to his use of words and I like to think i do likewise. He was a literary genius who was greatly maligned. He famously said EACH MAN KILLS THE THING HE LOVES but it was love that killed him. The Ballad of Reading Jail says it all.

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

Kate Tempest
Kevin Gilday
Phil Pearce
Too many to name!

6.1 What do those three bring to you?

Grit. Reality. Human angle. Humour and anger.

7.. Why do you write, as opposed to doing anything else?

I see it as an extension of me..as essential as the air I breathe. I am also a songwriter and great admirer of the late great Bowie whose lyrics and music really inspired me too.

There are enough restraints and expectations in the every day lives we live. No flowers grow on the path of normality.

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

Wait for the emotion. Your words cannot be forced. Then let each one unfurl like a flower on your page.

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

I am being interviewed at home on the 13th December as one of my poems about the NHS has been selected for the digital archive to celebrate their 70 years ! They need to know what inspired me to write it.
Secondly, I am collating some of my poetry with a view to finding a publisher ! I self published a collection back in my twenties and sold all my copies. I used to give recitals at Townswomens’ Guilds etc.
Thirdly, I have some songs ready to be tweaked lol.
I co wrote a charity single three years ago which was launched at the White Rose to raise money for resources to send to Swaziland where the two children our school sponsors come from.
Another song I co wrote was performed at Leeds Town Hall in front of 1800 people and the Lord Mayor of Leeds.
I am 60 next year but no chance of me slowing down. Ha ha.

Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to talk about what words mean to me.

 

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Julie Irigaray

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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Julie Irigaray

My poems appeared across the UK, the US, Ireland, Canada and Mexico. I was selected as one of the 50 Best New British and Irish Poets 2018 (Eyewear Publishing) and won third prize in the 2018 Winchester Writers’ Festival Poetry Competition. I was also shortlisted for The New Poets Prize 2018, the Mairtin Crawford Award 2018 and The London Magazine Poetry Prize 2016.

The Interview

1. When and why did you start writing poetry?

I started writing poetry aged fifteen after discovering the work of Arthur Rimbaud. I had hated poetry until then as the French way to teach poetry in school is very uninspiring: you just learn poems by heart and recite them standing in front of the class. I found Rimbaud’s work still relevant a century later and his language very powerful. I only started writing poetry in English four years ago after reading a biography of Sylvia Plath. I had already considered writing in English a couple of months earlier but didn’t allow myself to do so as a non-native English speaker. Plath’s poetry was very stimulating and I finally dared writing in English just for my pleasure before considering submitting my work to publications.

1.1 In what way was Plath’s poetry stimulating?

First, as a non-native English speaker, I found her work more challenging than the other modern poets I was reading. I think this is due to her peculiar use of the language in terms of vocabulary and metaphors. I was also attracted to the rhythm of her poems – a very distinctive feature of her work. She drew my attention to pace and pattern in poetry. I also admired her ability to master fixed form and free verse with such talent. But what I love the most about Plath is that she had a voice, or “duende” as Lorca called it. No matter whether or not you like her poetry, you cannot deny that something is going on and that she did it differently. I like the idea of poets having strong distinctive personas.

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

I was studying English in university at the time so I had some knowledge of “the classics” of American, British and Irish poetry. But of course I hadn’t read them in school so I was less aware of any English poetic tradition. I see it as both an advantage and a disadvantage: I had to work harder to “acquire” this legacy, yet on the other hand I wasn’t burdened by it. Additionally, I was familiar with other literary traditions and had access to poetry in other languages, which is another way to improve your craft.

As for contemporary poetry, I was rather ignorant of what was going on apart from the “big names” like Seamus Heaney or Derek Mahon. I spent a whole year compensating for my lack of knowledge by subscribing to literary magazines and reading as much contemporary poetry as I could, although it wasn’t easy to access and I couldn’t attend events or workshops because I was living in Italy.

2.1 How do the “other literary traditions in other languages” differ from the “English tradition”?

In the case of French poetry, rhythm and metrics are radically different from English. I remember my American teacher in Paris trying really hard to make us understand that poetry which doesn’t rhyme is still poetry (!) and that rhythm plays a more important part in English poetry. We really struggled to get when words were stressed or unstressed, what an iambic pentameter or blank verse were. In French poetry, a line is defined by syllables instead of stresses (the alexandrine meter, an hexameter…) The natural English pattern  is difficult to spot for a foreign ear. Traditional French poetry is also rather stricter in terms of forms (no wonder why they invented the villanelle and the sestina!). There is definitely more emphasis on musicality and rhymes than in the English tradition, but I suppose it is specific to Romance languages. For example, the traditional French sonnet should be irreproachable in terms of pattern (12 syllables with ideally a caesura in the middle), rhyme scheme (and with elaborated rhymes), form, and other musical devices (assonances and alliterations).

3. What is your daily writing routine?

I try to write prose for an hour “to warm myself up” before poetry, but to be honest I’m not respecting this routine these days… I have a huge batch of poems which need to be edited so I’m focusing on this at the moment. Normally I’m not as strict about how often or for how long I should write poetry each day but I have been very late so I need to catch up now!

4. What motivates you to write?

I believe I write for the sheer pleasure it gives me. The creative process, and talking about poetry as we are doing now, give me joy. Of course I also write when I don’t want to, or about things which depress me, but the initial impulse remains selfish pleasure. It’s physical, I can’t really explain why, but I have the urge to do it because I have no other choice.

5. What is your work ethic?

I try to have a strong work ethic with habits. I dedicate at least an hour or two per day to writing, but this schedule can become flexible if I need more time to work on a piece or if I’m not at all in the mood for writing. I naturally consider reading as an integrate part of being a writer, so I allocate some time to this activity. I don’t limit myself to poetry or literature as other subjects can generate a poem – my interests span from history to visual arts, religion to languages… I’m pretty open to anything.

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

I was more influenced by novelists when I was young. My favourite novels as a teenager were those with a strong imagery, a rich vocabulary and a refined style, like Patrick Süskind’s “The Perfume”, Jeffrey Eugenides’s “Virgin Suicides” and “Middlesex”, or Carole Martinez’s “The Threads of the Heart”. Beyond the plot, these authors created a whole world thanks to their inventive use of the language and its richness. I’m very sensitive to metaphors and the use of symbols, so these influences probably found their way into my poetry.

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

Novelists I particularly admire include Zadie Smith and Elif Shafak. I like Zadie Smith’s style and the way she talks abouy human relations, especially between men and women. Elif Shafak’s novels always raise essential questions and their narratives are often close to tales. Both authors write about cultures I am not familiar with and this is also an essential part of what attracts me. I forgot to say that I’m jealous of Rachel Cusk’s prose style: I wish mine were as sophisticated! And her novels are almost philosophical.

I can only make a brief list of my favourite contemporary poets: Liz Berry, Kate Tempest, Paul Stephenson, Andrew McMillan, Malika Booker, Mary Jean Chan, Rakhshan Rizwan, to name just a few. I admire poets for their craft, the way they tackle universal subjects in a different way, their personal use of the language and imagery.

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

Don’t give up. Keep writing no matter what. Don’t hesitate to analyse and “copy” the writers you admire to understand why they are good. Be resilient: you might face rejection a hundred times being accepted somewhere, but it’s worth it. Being a successful writer is all about perseverance. Yet learn from your rejections: if editors systematically reject the same piece, work on it.

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

Right now I’m editing around thirty poems I have completely neglected these past few months and it takes a lot of time. I was shortlisted twice for a pamphlet and poetry collection competitions this year so it might be a good time to assemble a pamphlet, bit I’m not sure I have poems that are strong enough, yet.. I’ll probably attend some workshops and writers groups first to get some feedback and guidance as this project might be a bit premature!

 

 

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: p.a. morbid

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.

owl

p.a. morbid

I’m a poet, Noise/Dark ambient musician, painter, local historian, as well as Editor of The Black Light Engine Room.

The Interview

1. What inspired you to write poetry?

I wrote my first proper poem in September 1983 and it was inspired by my love of Tolkien and seeing The Stranglers playing Midnight Summer Dream on The Tube. I was a massive Tolkien fan at the time, which affected my writing ha ha. I didn’t read much poetry at the time, or much of anything but Tolkien and Sci-fi.
Obviously my writing has changed a lot since then, as have the things that inspire me.

2. Who introduced you to poetry?
No one. There was a lot of poetry in Tolkien, and I was part of a little punky-goth gang that lived in the suburbs of Middlesbrough and we were all into reading and writing poetry. I can’t remember doing poetry in school, though my early teenage years are a bit of a depressive blur…

3. How aware were you of the dominating presence of older poets?
I must say I’ve never felt any dominating presence from older poets. I mean, they’re there, some of them have influenced my writing, and historically some of them have cast very long shadows over the way we perceive the history of poetry, but as a presence in my life they’re negligible.

4. What is your daily writing routine?
I don’t have a writing routine. I have an a6 pad with me all the time I’m at home, and I carry an a6 in the side pocket of my trousers whenever I’m out, so whenever inspiration strikes I’m ready! I understand the need to push the Muse a little though, which I do mostly in my prose writing, but my poetry has a tendency to emerge if and whenever its ready. I’ll go weeks without writing any poetry (or months as was the case between April and August this year). Reading a fair bit of contemporary poetry I’m not convinced that writing to order is a good thing, as a lot of what I read is bland. Obviously this is a personal view, from a poet who’s got a very niche style, but I do see it as a problem. Not that I’d tell anyone not to write. Writing is good for the soul, and whether it’s just a record of a memory, or as a means of catharsis, it’s a brilliant tool.
I do, however, think a lot about my prose/non-fiction writing. I usually walk to town every day, and in my role as Historian of Middlesbrough, I’m constantly walking round and looking things. Walking is really good for working out the kinks in a story, or simply running through routines.
When I’m at home I like to read, when not editing, so I’m sometimes more caught up in someone else’s story.

5. What motivates you to write?
With my poetry I’ve a tendency to go with the inspiration of the moment, and this can be anything from the light on damps pavements to  birds flocking. My poetry is very precise, and usually focused on a single moment. They’re also, usually, very short, which means I can cram more into each publication than your usual poet! I also suffer from regular bouts of depression and insomnia, so I’ve tried writing about that. The poetry world is a good place to talk about these sometimes difficult subjects, not least because a good number of us have suffered from them in the past. Not sleeping well does have an effect on how I see the world, and how that comes out in my writing. At times its not particularly pleasant, while others it’s like I’m experiencing the world anew, and there’s so much more to it than when I’m feeling better.

6. What is your work ethic?
Well, I’ve been running The Black Light Engine Room as a regular live event practically every month (except Aug & Dec) since May 2010, which is also when I started publishing The Black Light Engine Room magazine for the first time. So I spend a good chunk of each year editing chapbooks, organising events and trying to get my own work out there. I’ve published 36 chapbooks and 15 issues of the magazine since 2010.
I’m a local historian too, so I spend a lot of time trying to track down relevant information, doing volunteer work and giving walks, talks etc. This aspect of my work really appeals to my obsessive streak, as I’m constantly trying to ferret out obscure titbits for future use. Middlesbrough has an interesting history – as most places do – and I’m especially interested in the artistic/literary side – which have been neglected by our local historians, who are all a bit straight-laced (though lovely). And as with the press, live night, its all part of a concentrated effort to raise Middlesbrough’s profile above it being known a shithole with nothing going on.

7. How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?
Tolkien definitely made me want to write, gave me a love of language, and I still have a massive soft spot for him. The Penguin Book of Contemporary Verse, which I discovered in 1985, had a massive effect on me, as it was where I first read Sylvia Plath & Ted Hughes, whose style of writing really impacted on mine. I still read those two, though with the exception of Birthday Letters, only early Hughes. At the time I was very into writing epics – Crow, The Hollow Men were influences, but I’ve grown out of that, thank fuck!
In the 90s I discovered a number of poets who were to have a big influence on me. Hans Favery, a Dutch writer whose poems were obscure, strange but weirdly beautiful all at once. Tu Fu, classical Chinese writer (in translation by David Hinton). Sam Hamill, an American whose poems veer between sharp description to terse political statements. He also, like his mentor Kenneth Rexroth, produced lots of books of translation, as well as essays on the art of writing etc. Lovely man & always ready to answer questions from an English Fan Boy!
Three of the biggest influences on me as a writer weren’t poets, perversely enough. These were J.G. Ballard, Angela Carter and Aleister Crowley. Crowley was a poet, but not a very good one ha ha. It was his mystical, inspired verse that really got to me at the time. Those descriptions of alternate worlds, either in the aether or the inside of his head were/are so moving.

8. Who of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?
I can’t say I admire any poets as such. Love, yes. There is one living poet I do look up to, though, and that’s Jim Burns. He writes poetry which is funny, moving, and despite its simplicity, just amazing. He’s been publishing since the early 60s, edited a few mags and is still writing and publishing in his early 80s! I’ve published him twice and had the pleasure of meeting him after a year or so of emails & not only was he exactly as he comes across in his mails & poetry he read “Easter In Stockport” one of my favourite ever poems! He’s also got an encyclopaedic knowledge of British poetry over the years and is a brilliant reviewer. We sat and talk for two hours the morning after he read at The Black Light Engine Room & it was one of the best 2 hours I’d spent ever!

http://www.pennilesspress.co.uk/poetry/ptpjim_burns.htm

The Black Light Engine Room  is on youtube, just type in the name.

9. Why do you write?
For the same reason I paint & make horrible music. I have no choice in the matter. If I don’t write – either my journal, a bit of poetry, lyrics, prose, then I don’t feel right.

10. What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”
Just write. Read. Think about what you’re writing. Write. Read more etc etc

11. Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.
At the moment I’ve just finished putting together the first book from The Black Light Engine Room, which is a split between me and Harry Gallagher. We’re looking at reading round the country to promote that from February on & if anyone reading this wants to put us on, please get in touch!
I’m also getting close to the end of my first novel, which is a gothic-psychogeographical thing set in Middlesbrough. I’m also working on a lot of flash fiction, including a collection called “down-time” which deals with alcohol abuse & obsession, both of which I’ve had problems with in the past.
I’m also working on a small Local History booklets, which I’m hoping to have out early in the New Year.

“Stream Toward Unconsciousness” . . . and other poems in response to the last Wednesday Writing Prompt

Glad to have my consciousness streamed by this prompt.

THE POET BY DAY

“Sometimes you see a man in a restaurant reading while eating — a very commn sight. He gives you the impression of being a very busy man, with no time even for eating.  You wonder whether he eats or reads. One may say that he does both. In fact, he does neither, he enjoys neither. He is strained and disturbed in mind and he does not enjoy what he does at the moment, does not live in the present moment, but unconsciously and foolsihly tries to escape from life.”  What the Buddha Taught, Walpola Rahula



These are the responses to the last Wednesday Writing Prompt, In March, Flowering, November 21, which challenges our poets to dip their pens into stream of consciousness, a narrative style that gives the impression of the mind at work. I think Buddhists might be inclined to call this “monkey mind,” a…

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Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Sarah L Dixon

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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Sarah L Dixon

lived in Chorlton for 12 years. She moved in May 2017 and is currently based in Linthwaite, Huddersfield and tours as The Quiet Compere.

Sarah has most recently been published in Marble, Confluence, The Interpreter’s House, The Lake, Obsessed with Pipework, Troubadour and Curlew. She had a poem published on a beer-mat and her pamphlet, The sky is cracked was released by the same press in November 2017 (Half Moon). Sarah’s second book, ‘Adding was patterns to Wednesday’ is due out late in 2018 with Three Drops Press

Sarah’s inspiration comes from many places, including pubs and music, being by and in water and adventures with her eight-year-old, Frank. She is still attempting to write better poetry than Frank did aged 4!

Frank’s line, aged 4, was “Is your heart in a cage so it doesn’t fly away?”

http://­thequietcompere.co.uk­/

The Quiet Compere | is Sarah L Dixon
thequietcompere.co.uk

The Interview

When did you start writing poetry?

Hi Paul, I wrote poetry as a teenager to make sense of the world. I left it for a bit and came back after failing the first year of a science degree, getting lab assistant job in NHS and completing OU degree while working full time. Degree was in social science and economics. Last two years was economics diploma and lots of hand-drawn graphs and tables. After this tight way of writing and proving I wanted to go back to freer creative writing and found a ten week subsidised course with the NHS run by Philip Davenport. I then found a Writing for Pleasure Course at Cheadle Library hosted by librarian, Mary Bland. When I wanted more constructive feedback I moved on to Wordsmiths run by copland smith

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

I worked with medical and surgical consultants in PA roles and was often picked on at school. I got used to letting things go over my head. I treat everyone as equal and in a way that means you also judge yourself as equal so do not get intimidated. One of the reasons I decided to tour as The Quiet Compere was to give people who might not get guest spots a chance to read. One of my first decisions was that every performer would get the same length set and the same fee. This was important to me.

3. What is your daily writing routine?

Honestly, I don’t have one. I occasionally challenge myself with month long daily prompt workshops. I enrolled on Wendy Pratt’s online Wild Within workshop in August and am joining this group again for Season of Mists in October. I run a writing workshop at a local pub on a Monday which gives me time to write (and we alternate between prompts and critique). I find I am more likely write poems in snatched minutes or they wake me up at 6am demanding to be written. If I have hours stretching out where I could write it doesn’t usually happen. I had a time after my first book came out where I was occasionally writing but hardly liked anything I wrote for about nine months. Wendy’s workshop and a week in Whitby by myself helped me get back to somewhere where I liked my writing. I have an eight year old and we use the mile walk to school and back to play with words and ideas. The other day we were inventing words and sometimes Frank asks me questions like ‘where do the shadows go at night?’ that prompt me to write poetry later. Always have notebook with me.

4. What motivates you to write?

Anger, sadness, reminscence, nature, being in and by water, my son, Frank (by the way he sees the world and the questions he asks me about things.)Writing is one way to make sense of things or tie them down to make them easier to face and process.

5. What is your work ethic?

Work ethic? Not sure. Try to keep enough time and space to not suffer from recurrent tonsillitis. Between school runs and day job and freelance things. I run on adrenaline so I suppose the question should really be Do you stop enough? I write when the words wake me or come and don’t worry too much when they don’t for a while. Not sure I have answered this question…

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

James Herbert, Dean Koontz, Stephen King, Richard Layman. Short sentences to build tension. Darkness and seventeen years in NHS admin roles including Oncology and Post Mortem secretary all feeds into this. Magical realism too. When something just doesn’t feel quite right. Roald Dahl, Dr Seuss, Wind in the Willows, Alice in wonderland, (Quentin Blake illustrations) – all darkness but with a sense of play too. I read The Iron Man and The Hobbit voraciously in my reading space on the top stair. Poetry wise we had to read Larkin at school and it took me a long time to come back to an appreciation of him. First few poets I remember reading and enjoying: Shakespeare, Christina Rossetti, Roger McGough. Brian Patten is a more recent and happy discovery.

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

Clare Shaw – just everything about her. She is the only person who makes me go fan girl. Her words, her accent, her delivery, her height, the way she is with the audience – everything, really. Ciaran Hodgers – such understated, gentle delivery of important issues delivered in a way that convinces. Wendy Pratt, poetry of nature and loss and hope. Loving her online workshops too. Angela Readman and Joanne Key for their explorations of darknesses. I could list hundreds but will leave it at these.

8. Why do you write?

To make sense of people, places, situations. Because my mind makes me notice and record the details, to communicate. To explain how I feel, how I see. To play.

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

I would say to get feedback and listen to critique, explore things you might not usually write about, accept challenges (I recently wrote a poem for an endangered bird – birds had only been incidental in my poems until then) and challenge yourself. Find people you trust to tell you if you can do better and be honest about what doesn’t work. Online groups are good if you can’t always get to workshops in the real world. Know there will be writer’s block and the words will probably come back, just live so you have things to write about. Read a lot. Listen to poets tell you their poems online or at readings. Work out what you like and don’t like and why.

10. And finally, Sarah, tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.

I was a volunteer manager and helper for six days at Poetry Swindon. I had a guest spot and hosted there on National Poetry Day. I have a book coming out, ‘Adding wax patterns to Wednesday’ with Three Drops Press with a launch on 30th November. I have a vague theme of inbetweens for my next book and have enrolled on Wendy Pratt course ‘Season of Mists’ with the theme of change and a prompt a say for October. I also have poems coming out in Endangered birds, Play and Outsiders anthologies in the next month.

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Katie Doherty

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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Katie Doherty

Katie is a writer and poet. You can find her in a cafe drinking tea, perusing bookshops or furiously writing in her notebook.

Website: patchoulitea.net

The Interview

1. What inspired you to write poetry?

I believe I was inspired by the poems I read as a child. I enjoyed how the economy of words could make me feel something so grand, I felt the need to replicate this and I did so outside of the classroom. Of course my poems have evolved and with all artists, when we first begin we may emulate our heroes but as we proceed, we begin to shape our own voices quite unknowingly.

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

My teachers. We read many poems in school but the poet that led me to sit down and try out my own was Dylan Thomas. His ability to use words was absolutely wonderful, the way the words jingle jangled and tripped off your tongue – it was a lyrical party in my mouth, I was captured.

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

When I started to gain my own voice in my writing, I was asked by people that didn’t necessarily read poetry why it didn’t rhyme  – things like that have been instilled in people that the rules have already been written by poets that have come before us. From my perspective this may be something that haunts a few of us, poetry can have form of course, for me, I appreciate a well-crafted formulaic poem but I also love the free form poetry that can go anywhere. Be anything it wants to be.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

There is no routine. I am sporadic in my work due to many different factors. I do tend to write better in the evenings, I am not a morning person and never have been. My mornings consist of me getting dressed and gulping down tea to unveil my human form which usually happens around 11.30am.

My evenings may consist of writing in my notebook, this can be a journal entry, a few lines I may use one day or a poem. I do try to write something every single day but there is no routine as such.

5. What motivates you to write?

I have to. It is as simple as that and it isn’t an easy task at times although it does come with the highest of rewards.

6. What is your work ethic?

Work hard, love what you do, be curious and don’t let anyone tell you how to write.

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

I had completed my film degree and I was lost creatively, for reasons I still cannot fathom, I am guessing it was the transition from student into the world of work. I picked up the book Henry and June by Anais Nin and a wave of inspiration washed over me and I knew that I wanted to pick up my writing again – I never looked back.

I held on tight to Dylan Thomas, Charles Bukowski, Emily Bronte, Mina Loy, Sylvia Plath, the lyrics of Nick Cave and Anne Sexton.

I have so much gratitude for each and every one of these people for helping me to realise that writing is a path that I must always walk down, no matter what may come along and try to divert me.

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

The poetic and storytelling aspect of Patti Smith’s work is very addictive. She has held my head above water when I have felt like my inspiration has fallen by the wayside.

There are so many fantastic writers that have been published by indie presses, too many to name, however, I love the writers that have been published alongside myself at presses such as Paper and Ink and Analog Submission Press.

9. Why do you write?

Why do I breathe? Because I have to. This is also true of writing.

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

I would say, buy a notebook and a pen, sit down and just write. Write journal entries, stream of consciousness pages, lines of dialogue, lines of words that may one day make it into a poem. Take that notebook everywhere. Write in cafes, write in libraries, write on your way to work. Be very curious, dissect and enjoy the monotony of normal life because it certainly does like to throw material at you. The final thing that I think is very important is read as much as you can. Join the library, wander around bookshops’ the more you read, the more you will learn about the craft.

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

Over the past few years I have had many projects on the go, spinning plates if you like to the point I smashed a few and thought – I need to slow down. So, I am currently writing a novella with no other distractions

 

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Greg Santos

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.

Black-Birds by Greg Santos

Greg Santos
 
is the author of Blackbirds (Eyewear Publishing, 2018), Rabbit Punch! (DC Books, 2014) and The Emperor’s Sofa (DC Books, 2010). He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from The New School. His writing has been featured in publications such as The Walrus, Queen’s Quarterly, Geist, Vallum, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, The Best American Poetry Blog, and World Literature Today. He regularly works with at-risk communities and teaches at the Thomas More Institute. He is the poetry editor of carte blanche and lives with his family in Montreal.My website is: https://gregsantos.me/
I can be followed on social media on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/gspoet/) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/moondoggyspad).

The Interview

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews
 
1. What inspired you to write poetry?
 
I started writing poetry when I was a teenager, long before I even really knew what I was doing. I would jot stuff down into a journal when I was traveling with my parents. I liked the idea of capturing moments in time. Eventually I kept a journal more regularly and those scribbled thoughts, ideas, and song lyrics became my first poems.
 
2. Who introduced you to poetry?
 
I can’t specifically recall who introduced me to poetry or what age I was. I do remember learning about poets in high school, like Emily Dickinson and e.e. cummings. One of the first songs/poems I wrote in high school was inspired by cummings’ poem “anyone lived in a pretty how town” and I even wrote a blues-inspired song after Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying.
 
3. How aware were you of the dominating presence of older poets?
 
In college, I devoured writing by The Beat Generation and at one point I remember (embarrassingly) trying to emulate Dylan Thomas when reciting a poem out loud. I was starting to experiment with incorporating popular culture and humour in my writing and a professor of mine encouraged me to read Frank O’Hara’s poetry, which lead me to discover The New York School’s works and my mind was blown! I particularly owe a great debt to the writing of Kenneth Koch and his approach to teaching creative writing to youth, as I regularly work with diverse communities, including at-risk youth. I am very aware of the voices of poets that came before me and always feel that my writing is in conversation with them.
 
4. What is your daily writing routine?
 
I didn’t always keep a regular writing routine and would write whenever I had a free moment, often at night when my wife and kids were asleep. This fall, I’ve set aside my afternoons for writing and editing. It’s been relatively successful and I’m quite happy with the change and the results.
 
5. What motivates you to write?
 
The world around me motives my writing. The daily wonder in my children’s eyes. My wife’s thirst for learning and her joy spending time in nature is contagious. There’s a motto that I have added to my own business cards, which is “Live a Life Poetic.” I try to live with that saying in mind on a daily basis. I’ve always been a sensitive person, and so I try to be open to the magic of the world around us. Of course, poetry itself is one of my main inspirations. I’m unabashedly a poetry nerd: I love reading other people’s poetry, reading about poetry, discussing poetics, and spreading my enthusiasm about the art form to whoever will listen. Poetry is my vocation.
 
6. What is your work ethic?
 
Like I mentioned in one of your previous questions, I have recently scheduled regular time in the afternoons to work on my own writing projects. This doesn’t mean writing exclusively. I feel that editing is just as important as writing. So is reading and researching. Even when I’m not writing, I’m soaking everything in like a human sponge. I’m constantly in awe of other writers and I love to see what my peers are working on. Once I digest it all, I still find myself surprised by what comes out in my own work. It’s all very exciting to me!
 
7. How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?
 
When I’m stuck, I still like to go back to the many writers who have influenced me. It’s like visiting with old friends. There are some that I’m not as close to as I once was, but it’s still nice to catch up. Then there are those friendships that pick up again from right where we left off. I love going back to Kenneth Koch, Frank O’Hara, John Ashbery, Paul Violi, Michael Ondaatje, James Tate, Elizabeth Bishop, Lydia Davis, Mary Ruefle, Dean Young, Stuart Ross, Mark Strand, A.R. Ammons, Jorge Luis Borges, and Italo Calvino, among many others.
 
8. Who of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?
 
Oh my goodness, there are so many writers that I respect for so many different reasons. Sometimes it’s their hustle and commitment to their art. Others, I admire for their encouragement and support of one another. Of course, there are my peers who are just killing it out there and writing amazing pieces of literature. Some of these writers that immediately come to mind include Leah Umansky, Phoebe Wang, Cora Siré, Heather O’Neill, Tara Skurtu, Gillian Sze, Stuart Ross, Ashley Opheim, Tess Liem, Joshua Levy, Gabino Iglesias, Larissa Andrusyshyn, Sarah Kay, Najwa Zebian, Branka Petrovic, Harriet Alida Lye, Matt Haig, Guillaume Morissette, Marcela Huerta, Klara du Plessis, Faisal Mohyuddin, Lauren Turner, and Robin Richardson.
 
9. Why do you write?
 
Some like to say “publish or perish.” Yes, the publishing part is nice, of course. I, however, prefer to say “create or croak.” I am interested in the process of writing. The joy of the act of writing and of play is very important to me. When I was younger, I always said that I would be in a creative field and I often started working on screenplays, stories, and comics, but would often leave those projects unfinished. On the other hand, I was able to finish my poems. Once that happened regularly, I couldn’t stop. It was and continues to be a compulsion. When I completed my first book, The Emperor’s Sofa, I was amazed. I made this work of art – with plenty of help along the way – but it was out there in the world. I still feel very grateful to have had a book published, let alone more than one, and to have the opportunity to move others with words. We always tell our daughter that when she plays a song on the piano for her friends and family, it is a gift that she is sharing and something to be proud of. I feel that poetry is my gift and I have a deep sense of satisfaction and pride for that creative accomplishment.
 
10. What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”
 
Read. Write. Re-read. Re-write. Be persistent. Reach out for help. Let others help you. Help others along the way. Always believe in your writing.
 
11. Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.
 
I’m currently working on a couple of projects at the same time. One of my manuscripts-in-progress is inspired by the life and art of Canadian modernist painter, Anne Savage. She was a member of the Beaver Hall Group, who were Montreal-based contemporaries of the iconic Canadian landscape painters, The Group of Seven. My childhood home was the same home that Savage lived in for the majority of her life and I’ve been writing persona poems and ekphrastic poems from her and some of her family members’ point of view.My other project is somewhat of a continuation of the writing found in my newest Eyewear Publishing poetry pamphlet, Blackbirds. The themes in Blackbirds touch on parenthood, identity, and ancestry much more so than in my previous books. It put me in a much more vulnerable space and I wasn’t sure how it would be received. But seeing how positively readers have been responding to Blackbirds, I’m in the process of putting together a manuscript that builds on these themes in greater depth and I’m hoping for it to become a new full-length collection. 
 

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Mark Fiddes

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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Mark Fiddes
 
Mark’s first full collection ‘The Rainbow Factory’ was launched at Keats House by Templar (publishers of his award-winning pamphlet ‘The Chelsea Flower Show Massacre’).
He’s won the Ruskin Poetry Prize, Ireland’s Dromineer Festival Prize and was runner up in the Bridport Poetry Prize and Poetry Society Stanza Prize. His work been published in The Irish Times, London Magazine, Magma, The Independent and POEM International among many others. Normally resident in London, he’s working temporarily in the UAE.
 
The Interview
 
Wombwell Rainbow Interviews
 
1. What inspired you  to write poetry?

Growing up near a slow, dirty river – The Nene in Northamptonshire. As a lad I’d go out for day-long walks and want to return with something more in my head than a memory. So poetry at first was a way of putting together the pieces. I then left poetry writing (not reading) alone for many years until a number of jarring events meant I needed to piece together the fragments once again – a Weltanschauung that reflected more connection to the world.
 
2. Who introduced you to poetry?

My Dad used to illustrate pocket sized poetry samplers for the novelist JR Carr who had his own mini-press in Kettering which published Clare, Blake and Keats. I think you can still get them. Anyway, I’d read these and wonder at the worlds they created. I was also lucky enough to have that inspirational teacher who figures in the lives of so many of us. Mine was called Danny Hickling. He made Chaucer a riot, Shakespeare a visionary and even Dryden turned into a philosopher.

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

Aside from a few dour and pin-striped men on the TV, not really aware. Then punk came along and changed everything. I started reading Rimbaud and Verlaine and the Beats. It was that sort of tatterdemalion Romanticism, I guess, that all revolutions need. Then at college at actually got to meet a few of them, like Ginsberg. Although I was supposed to be studying Philosophy, I spent most of my book money on Heaney and Hughes. Later, I got to work in Washington, DC as a journalist which introduced me to wonders of the American poets like Bishop and Sexton. They seemed to write with such directness and clarity.
 
4. What is your daily writing routine?

Wake at 6.30. Coffee. Write for an hour and a half. Go to work. Reserve half a day at the weekend for consolidation.
 
5. What motivates you to write?

Wonder sometimes, if I’m lucky. Other times, it’s the need to explain something to myself or to find out what I really think. Poetry is like a tool that I hope gets sharper with use. Poems I write out of anger – and I must have written 100 about Trump – end up in the bin. Poems I write to please other people always sound like birthday cards.
 
6. What is your work ethic?

I’m pretty disciplined. In my other life I work as a creative director with deadlines every day. This helps. Although I’m as distracted by coffee and cake as the next poet.
 
7. How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?

They feel more like friends than writers. I sometimes feel my own poems are conversations with them. But if we’re talking children’s writing, there’s an equally strong influence from the illustrators too. For me Edward Ardizzone was able to conjour up private worlds with a few cross-hatches of his pen, whether accompanying the poems of Walter de la Mare or Dylan Thomas.
 
8. Who of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?
 
John Glenday has a special appeal for me, not just because most of my family are Scots!
There’s a warmth in his work and a power in his economy. Like Heaney, he’s a writer who’s always “reaching out” if that makes sense. I’m a big fan of Ada Limon and the fluidity of her imagery, her mysterious truth-telling. I’ve recently discovered the stark sensuality of Louise Glück. Could have done with her earlier on. Another poet who deserves a much wider audience in the UK is Zeina Hashem Beck from Lebanon with whom I’ve read several times over the past year. She’s fierce and tender and her new style of duets in English and Arabic are the best way to understand some of the issues of identity and memory in the Middle East at this troubled time.

9. Why do you write?

I’ve tried to answer that in 5 above.
 
10. What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”

I would first ask if they were a reader.
 
11. Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.

I’m working on my second collection. At the moment. It’s called ‘How to be Quiet’ as much as a reaction to social media as the populist frenzy which has supplanted what we knew of as democracy. These are poems about friendships and love and belonging. Nobody dies, except me – almost – and my Mum who as a teacher and book lover all her life was a huge influence. There’s more on celebrity, work and the issues that bamboozle us daily. And an Ode just to keep my hand in.My job has taken me overseas so I’m Brexiled for the moment. But it’s brought me into contact with a number of poets exiled from real conflict zones like Palestine and Syria. Run by Zeina Hashem Beck, we have a monthly open mic called Punch Poetry that brings together voices from all over the Middle East and Asia. I’m still learning so much.
 
 
 
 

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Joe Williams

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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Joe Williams

is a former starving musician who transformed into a starving writer and poet in 2015, entirely by mistake. He lives in Leeds and appears regularly at events in Yorkshire and beyond. He has been published in numerous anthologies, and in magazines online and in print. His debut poetry pamphlet, ‘Killing the Piano’, was published by Half Moon Books in 2017, followed by the verse novella ‘An Otley Run’ in 2018. He won the prestigious Open Mic Competition at Ilkley Literature Festival in 2017 and was runner-up the following year.

The Interview

1. When and why did you start writing poetry?

It was very much an accident. Back in 2014 I decided, for no particular reason, to try writing a haiku every day, and posted them on Facebook. I got quite into it and ended up doing 50 haiku in 50 days. I stopped doing them daily then, but still did them in bursts, and set up a Facebook page called Haiku Hole where I could share them. Early in 2015 I saw a poster in the Chemic Tavern in Leeds, advertising Word Club, their monthly poetry night with open mic, so I decided to give that a go. I really enjoyed it, and discovered a whole world of local poets and poetry events that I hadn’t known about before. From there I got the bug and started performing more regularly, and writing different types of poetry, inspired by the wonderful poets I saw at those nights. It all spiralled from there.

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

I don’t think I really was introduced to it until I started going to all the events. I’d done the usual stuff in school, and I have a background in music so I was used to songwriting, but I feel that’s quite a different discipline, and poetry wasn’t really on my radar as either a writer or a reader. That first time I went to Word Club – and I didn’t get up on stage that time, I just watched – was a huge moment of discovery for me, seeing what contemporary poetry was really about, and what could be done with it. I’ll always remember the line-up of guests from that night – Joanna Sedgwick, Winston Plowes, and Gaia Holmes. Three fantastic but very different writers. The quality of the open mic was very inspiring too.

2.1 How did you know about Haiku?

I remember that from school, the 5-7-5 Westernised version of haiku. I didn’t particularly think about it as being poetry.
2.2 Inspired by the poets you heard what different kinds of poetry did you write?

Some of the earliest poems I did still used the haiku form, but I strung them together in a longer sequence. I wrote a few rhythmic rhyming pieces too. That felt natural to me because of my music work. After that I started doing some pieces that used a fixed syllable structure – not necessarily a recognised form, just patterns I’d created and worked within. I learnt a lot from those techniques, which helped me to then go on to writing free verse without over-writing or rambling, keeping things tight and quite minimal. I still tend to write with a rhythm or a beat in my head, though it might not always be obvious to a reader.
3. How aware are and were you of the dominating presence of older poets traditional and contemporary?

I don’t pay much attention to them, and know little about them. I’m more interested in the local and grass roots scene. I don’t dismiss the older or more well-known poets, but I don’t seek them out either.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

I’m very bad at routine, and not just with writing. I try to do something related to writing every day, but that isn’t necessarily writing, or editing, it might be submitting work for publication, promoting events, getting work out on social media, that type of thing. When I have a specific piece of writing I want to work on I usually get away from my computer to avoid distractions. Usually that means going to the pub, but it’s just for work of course!

5. What motivates you to write?

I’m mainly motivated by ideas. Something might pop into my head, a thought or a line, or I might thank of a “what if” scenario based on something I’ve heard or observed. Sometimes I write to prompts or themes, but then it’s still usually about finding the interesting idea, trying to dig into the prompt and find an angle that isn’t the obvious one. Original and creative ideas are often under-rated and under-used in poetry, in my opinion.

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

The very best, for me, are those who can combine strong writing, which works on the page, with the ability to deliver it live in a performance. It doesn’t have to be an overtly performance-orientat­ed poet, and in most cases it isn’t, it’s someone who can deliver their lines in a way that gets to your heart or soul. I can think of dozens, and especially in Leeds and Yorkshire we’re blessed with many of them, but here are a few examples: Gill Lambert, Louise Fazackerley, Toria Garbutt, Sandra Burnett, Steve Pottinger, Cecilia Knapp, Vicky Foster… that’s just the tip of the iceberg

7. Why do you write, as opposed to doing anything else?

When I started doing the haiku I’d been away from the music business for a few years. I think one of the reasons I got into it was because I was missing having a creative outlet, and probably didn’t realise how much that had been lacking in my life. I’ve always written bits and pieces but it was only the absence of the music that made me start taking it seriously. I’m not sure if that really answers the question, but it’s the only explanation I have!

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

For poets especially, I’d strongly recommend getting out to open mic nights and other events, get to know the other writers in your area. For prose writers it can be a bit more difficult because the open mics tend to be poetry-focused, or sometimes poetry-only, but there are lots of different events around and you’re bound to be able to find out that you like and that suits you. It’s good to be part of the writing community, which in my experience is very supportive. Learn from other people, read their work, read a wide variety of published writers, literary magazines. Absorb as much as you can, and keep writing, keep editing, keep improving.
9.  Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.

My second book ‘An Otley Run’ – a verse novella about a pub crawl – has just been published by Half Moon Books, and we’ll be launching it at the Original Oak in Leeds on 2 December, so at the moment I’m mainly focused on that and arranging gigs and promo stuff for next year. If anyone has events they’d like me to read at, please get in touch! Beyond that, I’m working on a collection of short stories, and have a long-running idea about doing a poetry pamphlet themed around sport, so I expect one of those will be my next book. Who knows what the future will bring though? One thing I’ve learned as a writer is that you can never be entirely sure what’s going to come up next.

http://www.joewilliams.co.u­k and http://www.anotleyrun.com