Wombwell Rainbow Interviews
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.
Rebecca Gethin’s first novel, Liar Dice, which was published in 2011. Her frst poetry collection, River is the Plural of Rain, was published by Oversteps Books in 2009. Her second novel was What the Horses Heard and her second poetry collection, A Handful of Water. She has worked as a creative writing tutor in a prison and currently works as a freelance creative writing tutor and writer.
If I don’t spend the morning fiddling with writing I need to catch up somewhere in the day so I might do that or else it’s just one of those days that gets away. An accumulation of such days may make me feel slightly unwell but I am aware that sometimes I am absorbing experience that I will use later and that’s ok.
I use a camera a lot to capture memories, images, experiences. This is how I try to operate …I don’t wait for inspiration. I write or edit or organise. I find the best poems and the most enjoyable to write are the ones where I don’t know where it’s going and my brain suddenly furnishes me with the direction…. as if the poem is writing itself. Of course, I think a poet can also know where a poem is going and it might still be perfectly ok ( crafted and neat) but the ones that surprise the writer will probably surprise the reader! Of course you will lose the surprise to yourself while you edit it or fiddle about with it…. but even fiddling and editing can also bring out the surprise. Editing to me can be as creative as the initial write.
I was the same when I wrote my novels: I had no idea what was coming on the next page and wrote the two books sentence by sentence. I edited a lot later on and enjoyed this but I had no plans or maps for the plot to start with.
Reading others. Making notes on what I see or hear. Observing whatever and whenever I can. Making small discoveries.
My two monthly poetry groups, reading and supporting their work while their critiquing of my own is immensely supportive to me.
Work ethic? Not sure I have such a thing. Ethic seems a big word! I am not writing for a living or to deadlines except my own. My family comes first and, in the spring, my garden is next. I love being outside and, on a sunny day, at any time of the year I would rather be outside than at my desk so there can be a conflict within me! I am Aries and am used to this. So although I do need to spend time writing then I don’t necessarily work that hard at it unless something is pressing me.
I am learning to cope with the downs of my self-confidence and not let it get me down when it comes over me. Just something we all have to live with.
Tony Hoagland for his compassion and rage and his discursive style, the way he melds two things together to make a greater whole.
Norman MacCaig for his astonishing imagery.
Penelope Shuttle for her making the ordinary so very extraordinary.
Susan Richardson for her distinctive voices and her great knowledge of nature.
Les Murray for his voices and for being astonishing.
George Szirtes for being so apparently effortless and so adroit.
Michael Longley for making my heart beat faster. I could go on and on….
9. Why do you write?
Because it has become part of who I am and I feel ratty and almost ill if I don’t.
Because I want to record things that may vanish otherwise.
Because I want to resurrect things that are being lost. 10. What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”I’d say give yourself permission to write and above all let yourself write rubbish. Set yourself a target time and write for that length every day even if only 15 mins until it becomes engrained in you, a habit.
Put it away and come back to it a week (or a month or a year) later and see what bits you are surprised by. Write them out again and see what connections you can make or what you now think is finished. If it surprises you now, it will surprise others. Keep going even if life gets on top of you!
11. Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.
I am about to go on a writing residency in a remote seaside cottage in SW Cornwall in Dec. This is a wee bit daunting to be honest.
I am putting together a pamphlet called Vanishings (working title) on endangered creatures but this has a way to go. I have time though because Palewell Press is going to publish it at the end of 2019. (I could happily have studied Ecology.)
And I have another up my sleeve on excavated stories because I love archaeology and finding things out , working title is Signs of Life. (I should probably have studied History. )
I was reading at Aldeburgh Poetry Festival on climate change and want to work on this.
Thank you Paul Brookes for making me think about these questions.