Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Dominic Berry

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.

Dominic Berry

is an internationally award-winning performance poet. He is 2017 Glastonbury Festival Poet in Residence, winner of 2017 Saboteur ‘Best Spoken Word Artist’ award and has toured his verse across USA, Canada, India, New Zealand, Australia, South America and Europe.

His other awards include winning New York’s Nuyorican Poetry Cafe Slam, UK Superheroes of Slam and, as of 2017, seven Arts Council England Grants for the Arts awards.

He is currently touring three shows, his adult verse ‘No Tigers’, ‘The Boy Who Cried Wolf’, in collaboration with Big Imaginations, Action Transport Theatre and Arts Council England, and ‘Aaaaaaaaaaaaagh! Dinosaurs!’, voted by Fest as one of the Top 7 shows for families at Edinburgh Fringe.

The Interview

  1. When and why did you  start to write poetry?

Experiencing the work of other poets. Going to live literature events. Live literature events are, at their best, for me, so full of immediate connection. There can be such power, empathy, comedy, fire and useful emotion is people coming together and sharing thoughts, ideas, feelings, jokes, imagination and politics. It’s that coming together of people that really excites me. No phones, no internet, people gathered together speaking and listening. Poetry is the most concise way of communicating with literature and it’s a form which encourages imaginative wordplay and alternative viewpoints. Different is interesting. I remember my first live lit experience and knowing that was what I wanted to be doing with my time – listening, and also making my own stuff, speaking my truth, sharing what I had to offer on stage

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

Gerry Potter, as Chloe Poems, the gingham clad socialist transvestite in the much missed greenroom theatre, 1999.

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

Gerry Potter was, for all intense and purposes, my Dad, for about 10 years. He taught me the ways of the poet on the page and stage. Other older poets; Rosie Garland, Lemn Sissay, and James Quinn, had a huge positive effect with their work, encouragement and kindness

4. What is your daily writing routine?

As a performance poet, I don’t write everyday, much of my time is spent on the road touring the work I have already written to new places. I travel this country and others and very very rarely write on the road. When I do sit down to dedicate some time to writing the main goal is first draft first draft first draft, don’t overthink, just get the first draft down, then tear it to bits and not be previous be prepared to rewrite rewrite rewrite, find what works and deeper explore,elaborate and edit, with the help of experienced artists whose views I respect. Writing one short poem can take months or years, but of course I usually have several half finished poems in a draw waiting for their next draft. I’m about to enter a long length of time touring so no new writing will be happening for a bit. Unless the muse strikes me very hard on tour, which sometimes happens, but I try to keep performing and penning very separate activities, to give the full attention needed to both.

5. What motivates you to write?

It’s horrible to be horrible and lovely to be lovely. Our power and money obsessed society sees profit over kindness ever and ever increasingly, and any art which can generate compassion and understanding, with some humour and fun and imaginative wordplay, is where I hope to be.

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

There are so many writers today whose work I adore. Tez Illyas, Sophie Willan, Jackie Hagan, Rob Auton, Kate Fox, Anna Percy, Gen Walsh, Keisha Thompson, Dave Viney, Thick Richard, The AntiPoet and Scroobius Pip come to mind. There are some amazing young poets coming up where I live in Manchester – Rosie Fleeshman, Alex Slater, Jack Nicholls and Robert Steventon are fantastic

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

My advice to anyone wanting to get into art is that you are not an island, none of ya are islands, we are less informed and less skilful if we isolate ourselves from the knowledge and experience of others, so carefully choose people you consider excellent at what they do and actively seek their critique, opinions and, whenever possible, immerse yourself in their work. Be part of a scene.

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

I have loads of touring coming up, and it’s always ace to see people at gigs. Please check my website – Dominicberry.net – and if I’m performing near you, please do come see what I do!

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