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.
John D Robinson
is a UK poet: hundreds of his poems have appeared in small press zines and online literary journals including : Rusty Truck: Outlaw Poetry: North Of Oxford: Tuck Magazine: Misfits Magazine: The Sunflower Collective: Winamop: Bear Creek Haiku: Chicago Record: The Legendary: Paper and Ink Zine: Algebra Of Owls: Full Of Crow: The Beatnik Cowboy: The Clockwise Cat: The Scum Gentry: Message In A Bottle: Horror Sleaze ,Trash: Your One Phone Call: In Between Hangovers: Rasputin: Revolution John: Vox Poetica: Hand Job Zine: 48th Street Press: Poems-For-All: Philosophical Idiot:
His published chapbooks are
‘Cowboy Hats & Railways’ (Scars Press 2016)
‘When You Hear The Bell, There’s Nowhere To Hide’ (Holy&intoxicated Publications 2016)
‘An Outlaw In The Making’ (Scars Publications 2017)
‘These Poems Stole Your Lunch Money’ with Bradley Mason Hamlin (Holy&intoxicated Publications 2017)
‘Looking Down Both Barrels’ with Adrian Manning (Holy&intoxicated Publications 2017)
‘Hitting Home’ (Iron Lung Press 2018)
‘In Pursuit Of Shadows’ (Analog Submission Press 2018)
‘In Between The Curves’ with Charles Joseph (Holy&intoxicated Publications 2018)
‘Echoes Of Diablo’ (Concrete Meat Press 2018)
Too Many Drinks Ago’ (Paper & Ink Zine Publication 2018)
‘Romance, Renegades & Riots’ with James Gwill Thomas (Analog Submission Press 2018)
1. What inspired you to write poetry?
Aged 14 I began to learn to play the guitar: punk rock was about to crash its way into the world and it swooped me up: I was a lousy and lazy awful guitarist for sure and I was encouraged to give it up but I enjoyed writing lyrics: It was a wise decision that I put aside the guitar and take up the pen: my first poem was published when I was 17: it was a lonely and isolated place to be as I never shared the fact with anyone that I was writing poetry, I couldn’t do, it would have been dangerous to do so: I didn’t know anybody that wrote poetry or even read poetry or gave a shit about poetry: it was all about booze, drugs and music and girls, it certainly wasn’t about poetry: I think the punk rock ethic of DIY has stayed with me to this day and although I don’t listen to this music anymore and haven’t done so for decades, the energy and the passion that initially set it on fire is still there for me and I hope this carries through into my work: so I guess punk rock initially inspired me to write poetry and later, to become a publisher: Holy&intoxicated Publications:
2. Who introduced you to poetry?
I found poetry myself: but it was the UK poet Josephine Austin (1934 – 2014)
Who introduced into the wider world of poetry and poets: Josephine had been published by the big UK publishers of the 1960’s and into the 1970’s: I’m not too sure what happened, but during the 1980’s she began publishing her own work and began a quarterly magazine ‘First Time’ which ran for 30 years or so: She was a beautiful person and became a good friend of mine: she was friend’s with Robert Graves and would visit him at his Spanish home: Josephine also organized an annual ‘Poetry Festival’ and small press poets would come from across the world to attend and through this I began publishing my work in magazines: Josephine was a huge influence and was always, endlessly encouraging me to write and to become a publisher:
At 17 years old and on the recommendation of a codeine swallowing , booze swilling lost lady of this world, I read ‘On The Road’ and this book has had a lasting and significant impact upon me, most of what I read will have a Kerouac connection of some kind: it opened up a searching and seeking sense within, a spiritual adventure that is unafraid to wander and experience: Kerouac broke down the intellectual restraints, broke free from the accepted formula of prose writing: he had self-belief and an enduring sense and commitment to his art:
3. How aware were you of the dominating presence of older poets?
I think I was probably ignorant of this fact: I saw these poets as so far removed from where I was coming from that they ultimately faded from view and I began discovering more localised poetry outlets and began engaging in regular readings and poetry workshops which I held in schools and colleges, which was a fun thing to do, particularly with the 7 – 9 year olds, imagination and sense of wonder and awe is still very much within them:
4. What is your daily writing routine?
A routine is exactly what I have: for 3 hours in the early evening I will work in my shed/studio on the computer: answering / sending emails: submitting poems: gathering poems for various projects from numerous poets : formatting chapbooks, broadsides, typing up some of my own work: afterwards, I retire in doors with wine and notebook and pen and I will write until the wine has gone: mostly I discard what I write, but every now and then it happens: I’ll make changes/revisions if needed: I like to submit work every three or four months to online journals and small press zines: as Bukowski said ‘Publish or perish’
5. What motivates you to write?
Everything motivates me: waking up in the morning is a good start: In my work I encounter a great deal of people who have lost their way in the world in one way or another: here there is sadness and loss: success and hope: despair and regret: love and beauty: the blood of poetry: I love life, I didn’t always love life and gave it a good beating for many years with alcohol and drugs: self destructive: these days are very different for me: I have made friends with my demons: drugs and alcohol: I keep them at a safe distance and do not use to destroy but rather to celebrate and enhance my time and to tempt the muse: Life is precious and fragile, sad and blissful, cruel and embracing and every chance I have to write of it, I do.
‘If you Love life, then do not waste time, for time is what life is made of’
Lee Jun-fan (Bruce Lee)
6. What is your work ethic?
To write everyday, no matter what: it is a big part of my everyday: I feel uncomfortable without a notebook and pen: If I haven’t written anything of worth for 3 or 4 days I begin to feel miserable and unsettled: but I keep on writing, of putting words down: the USA poet Frank Lima, (1939 – 2013 ) in the latter part of his life, would write a poem a day, always quality poems, despite his failing health and alcohol addiction he continued writing: I couldn’t/can’t manage a quality poem a day but I give it my best shot.
7. How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?
As a young man of 15 or 16 I read everything that I could: The UK poet: Lee Harwood (1939 – 2015) : advised me to read, read, read: and I did: Shelley: Byron: Keats: Whitman: Dylan Thomas: W H Auden: John Berryman: Robert Lowell: Rimbaud: Verlaine: Pessoa: Andre Breton: Paul Eluard: Villon: : Basho: Tristan Tzara: Ezra Pound: Lorca: Georg Trakl: Owens: Sassoon: Frost: Elliot: Li Po: Pushkin: the ancient Greeks and Romans,
I read everything I could do , except , for some reason, I missed out Willy Shakespeare!!!!
I would spend hours in the local library, with a notebook and pen, making notes of the poets, sketches of biographies and books available:
And then the Beat’s came into my life and kicked my ass good:
I think that most of what I have read has had some kind of influence, varying in degrees and from moments to years.
8. Who of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?
The legend that is Catfish McDaris: Adrian Manning: Ryan Quinn Flanagan: Scott Wozniak: Bradley Mason Hamlin: Martin Appleby: Dennis Gulling: Marc Bruseke: Casey Renee Kiser: Arthur J Willhelm: India LaPlace: Gwil James Thomas: Joseph Ridgwell: Janne Karlsson: A D Winans: Pete Donohue: George Anderson: Wolfgang Carstens: John Grochalski: Rob Plath: Alan Catlin: Ally Malinenko: Hosho McCreesh: John Dorsey:
Because they are quality poets, find out for yourself:
9. Why do you write?
I don’t know anything else: don’t want to do anything else: couldn’t do anything else: it may be an obsession, an addiction: it may be one of my demons: I love poetry: it is who and what I am: I can add no more.
10. What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”
I would say that this is a dumb ass question to ask: writers write so write: sitting around thinking of becoming a writer is no more than the space between your fingers: Dan Fante said something like ‘keep writing, no matter what, even if you know its crap, keep writing, write your way out of it, write through the walls: but keep writing’: I think a distinction can be made between writers and poets: I rarely write prose these days: I have written a couple of un-publishable poorly composed novels and a couple of dozen short stories that have appeared in online journals: But prose is a different kind of beast and I find it can be very intense and demanding in a very different way to the writing of poetry: so I would not call myself a writer but rather, poet.
My advice would be just be honest and have faith in yourself, believe in yourself, write without question or hesitation, write what you feel no matter how raw and harsh or beautiful, write it down, express yourself: don’t be afraid to write your life, your time: don’t try and emulate others: sure, naturally accept influences but don’t replicate: it can take time to find your home, to find a style, a voice that is your own: I took the long way around, but I don’t have any regrets:
11. Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.
Holy&intoxicated Publications have projects planned for the next 12 -18 months: including Chapbooks: Broadsides and the Poetry Card Series:
I have planned split Chapbooks with: Catfish McDaris: Janne Karlsson: Joseph Ridgwell: Ryan Quinn Flanagan: Arthur J Willhelm: Casey Renee Kiser/India LaPlace: Martin Appleby: Marc Bruseke:
Solo collections from
:Adrian Manning: Ally Malinenko: Pete Donohue: India LaPlace: Casey Renee Kiser: Janne Karlsson: James Gwil Thomas:
My chapbook: ‘Pushing Away The Hours’ will shortly appear courtesy of the wonderful and adventurous ass-kicking: Alien Buddha Press.
I would like to offer my sincere thanks to Catfish McDaris and Paul Brookes for the opportunity to be a part of this wonderful interview series.