Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Jeremy 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.
 
 
In Retail cover
 
 
Jeremy Dixon
 
lives outside Cardiff making Artist’s Books that combine poetry, photography, queerness, individuality, compassion and humour. His poems have appeared in Found Poetry Review, HIV Here & Now, Liberty Tales, Lighthouse Journal, Really System, Roundyhouse and other magazines both online and in print. He was commended in the Cafe Writers Competition 2016. For more information visit; http://www.hazardpress.co.uk, or follow him on Twitter; @HazardPressUK   
 
The Interview
 
1. What inspired you to write poetry?
 
I am incredibly grateful to two people who both inspired me in different ways and without them in my life I doubt that I would be writing as I am now. The first was my English teacher at Radyr Comprehensive School, Mr ‘Gus’ Williams who would have all the class recite Chaucer and Shakespeare and Dylan Thomas and then ask us what these combinations of words actually made us feel. He also took us to an open air performance of the Mabinogion in the grounds of Cardiff Castle where there were real horses, jousting, a medieval fair, and even a representation of gay sex, all of which I remember vividly! Secondly, there is the wonderful Sarah Williams, who back in the 1990s after many months of having to listen to me moan that I wished I could write poetry, that I’m sure I could write poetry, that I should be writing poetry, entered my name (without telling me) for a ¬Bristol Poetry Slam competition, which gave me just over a week to compose and perform my first ever complete poem (and I made it through to the second round).
 
2. How aware were you of the dominating presence of older poets?
 
I’m slanting this question to acknowledge those poets of the past who have influenced both my life and my writing just by them being part of the world, they are my creative possibilities of how you live and write in societies that are constantly threatening and manipulating the ‘other’ to conform or to face erasure. There is an alternate queer history of modern poetry and writing that is never quite acknowledged, one that begins with Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman and runs through many, many lives including: Oscar Wilde, Hart Crane, Countee Cullen, H.D., Federico Garcia Lorca, Gertrude Stein, Allen Ginsberg, Joe Orton, Audre Lorde, Frank O’Hara, Elizabeth Bishop, Thom Gunn and John Ashbery. These are just some my dominating presences and I can only hope to try and live up their varied examples.
 
3. What is your daily writing routine?
4. What is your work ethic?
 
I have gradually shaped for myself a portfolio career where I undertake a collage of different jobs such as shop work, Yoga teaching, dog walking and freelance design in order to carve out enough time to create. This means that every day is split differently and so my creative routine will vary. As well as writing poetry I make artist’s books, which I describe as ‘poetic queer artist’s books’, and as such both writing and making are pretty much of equal importance to me. I only have so much creative energy, so one day I may draft poems, the next I might photocopy and stitch pamphlets, I see it as all part of a whole. All I ask myself of a day is that I spend at least some part of it on a creative project.
 
5. Why do you write?
6. What motivates you to write?
 
Time is what motivates me! How much longer can I afford to create, how much time do I have left on the planet, how much longer will the earth exist, am I using my time to my full creative potential, am I writing and making poetry and books that need to exist, can I lead through example, can I inspire others to be creative, and by unlocking the collective’s creativity can the world be saved?
 
7. Who of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?
 
Listing and mosting feels rather too excluding and subjective for me, any list of names would change and grow from day to day, moment by moment, but here they would be frozen on the page and I would soon regret who wasn’t there. However I must say that I find this fantastic new generation of queer poets worldwide incredibly inspiring to me. As I mentioned earlier, the history and example of any kind of queer poetry was deliberately hidden from me as I grew up, and now that no longer has to be the case. These new poets are enabling and showing us different ways of how poetry can be done, of how we can live our lives now. There is hope for change and for the future because they are creating in this world.
 
8. What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”
 
Here’s a secret that I wish I had known earlier, that you don’t really ‘become’ a poet or writer, if you write then you are already a poet and a writer and you don’t have to hang around waiting for someone to bestow a title upon you, you should just get on with the job of creating. You must be a writer to yourself, you must write, and redraft, and edit and write more. You should read and read and read and actively support the work of other poets and writers and presses. Join Twitter, follow everyone. Join a writing group. Join a tribe. Join as many libraries as you can. Enter competitions, pamphlet call outs, submit to magazines, submit to publishers, go to book fairs. Or then again, don’t do any of this if you don’t want to. Don’t denigrate, judge or bitch about the work of others. Don’t compare yourself to others, let them be them, let you be you. Do the WORK. Own your WORK. Be prepared for it all to take time. Remember that only you have the power to be the means of your own ‘becoming’.
 
9. Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment. .

I am very excited that in February 2019 my first poetry collection will appear in the world, just one month ahead of my 55th birthday (please seeyuupûyoo second from last line in the question above). The book is called IN RETAIL and is being published by the wonderful Arachne Press. I am very lucky that my editor, Cherry Potts, has been incredibly supportive in terms of pushing the envelope of how poetry can be presented in book form and the collection incorporates influences from my parallel world of artists’ book. The poems contained within IN RETAIL are the result of my part-time job in a well-known high street chain of chemists, which rather unexpectedly turned out to be a great source of inspiration. Most of the poems began life as hurried lines scribbled on the back of a length of till roll in the lull between sales. I’m in the process of working out how to perform these poems and also arranging a reading tour (which is all completely new to me, so if any of your readers have any ideas or suggestions that would be fantastic!). IN RETAIL is available for pre-order now from Arachne Press (with free UK p&p and a free limited-edition IN RETAIL badge). Order link:
 

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