Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Lavonne Westbrooks

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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Lavonne Westbrooks

Editor at scribblecamp.com

The Interview

1. What were the circumstances under which you began to write poetry?

Like most writers, I began to write in high school. I was lucky enough to have a creative writing teacher who encouraged my efforts. Her name was Willifred Johnson.

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

My earliest memory is of my mother reciting Wordsworth to me. Before I knew what the words meant, I knew the emotion because I heard it in my mother’s voice.

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

By older, do you mean earlier? I cut my poetry teeth on Tennyson, Shakespeare, and Coleridge, Byron, Shelley. Then came Yeats, Eliot, Frost, Dickinson, W C Williams, Plath, Neruda, Lorca, Pound. So many more.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

Most often, I write before my husband or any other family members wake. However, I have given my grandchildren journals, and we often spend time writing together. Of course, the three year old only practices his letters and numbers but the six year old began her journal three years ago and her stories are becoming more and more creative. I keep a notebook with me all the time and use the notes I make to flesh out into poetry later when I am alone.

5. What motivates you to write?

Interactions I observe between people, animals, the natural world, emotion that stirs inside me. I find inspiration in everything! Often, the empathy I have for others turns to words on paper.

6. What is your work ethic?

Whether I am writing, caring for family, or working at my ‘day job’, I believe that the most important thing a person can do is keep their commitments.

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

One writer I admire and am proud to call my friend, is Milner Place. You can read about him in Wikipedia. He began writing late in life. He is from my mother’s generation and uses the great experience of his adventurous life to connect his readers to each other and the world at large. I also greatly admire Sherman Alexie. A Native American author who writes movingly about his life in today’s society while drawing from the collective wisdom of the past.

8. Why do you write?

Because I want to remember. I want those who read what I write to remember.

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

Pick up a pen, put your fingers on a keyboard. Writing must be practised. The first 500 thousand words you write won’t be worth spit, but that 501 thousandth word will be gold. Listen to all advice. You don’t have to take it – just listen to it.

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

I am working on a collection of southern colloquial poems. I have several hundred and weeding through them is time consuming! Lots of rewriting and editing. I want this to be a memorable collection.

Thanks so much for giving me a chance to talk with you!

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