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.
is a poet, spoken word artist, and student activist currently studying Creative Writing at ASU. Austin’s writing has been widely published in dozens of literary journals and magazines including Pif Magazine, After the Pause, Soft Cartel, Philosophical Idiot, and Collective Unrest. Austin’s first two books, Cloudy Days, Still Nights and Second Civil War were both published by Moran Press in 2018.
1. When and why did you begin to write?
I’ve been writing for a good majority of my life. When I was a little kid I used to write stories and make my own chapbooks out of construction paper and staple them together and hand them out to my family. When I was around 13, I started to get more serious about my work, and I began to write poetry every day. I wrote so much shitty poetry in my early years, but I’m glad I started when I did.
I’m a very emotional person, and I think that’s the biggest reason I started writing poetry. I feel things very deeply and I’ve been told I can be overly empathetic. I think I was really drawn to poetry because it was the only way I could cope with being so sensitive in a world that teaches us we shouldn’t feel things so deeply.
2. Who introduced you to poetry?
My Dad is a filmmaker, and although he didn’t technically introduce me to poetry, he definitely introduced me to the arts and writing and books which was what allowed my love for reading and writing to begin and grow. I also had many amazing teachers throughout my childhood and into high school who completely supported my dreams and passion for poetry and encouraged me to pursue writing.
3. How aware were and are you of the dominating presence of older poets?
I think I’ve always been pretty aware of the dominating presence of older poets, although, now I believe many of my peers who are regarded as younger poets are beginning to receive more attention. My biggest problem with the dominance of older poets is how they’re usually the only poets kids encounter in school. Sure, the older poets are fantastic to study, but there are also so many more amazing writers out there that kids would definitely be able to connect with.
4. What is your daily writing routine?
I try to follow a daily writing routine that’s relatively consistent. I keep my journal with me throughout the day, and when inspiration strikes I stop to write. Everyday I try to read as much as I can. I read in the morning, at lunch, before bed, and whenever I can throughout the day. I’m a college student at ASU, and although it’s probably not the best routine, I usually write poetry during my classes, when it doesn’t affect my schoolwork. I also always take time at night to write and edit poetry before going to sleep. That’s probably the most consistent part of my writing routine.
5. What motivates you to write?
I really want to help people with my writing. I’ve always been motivated by the idea that my writing might be able to make a difference in people’s lives. I want to write something that makes someone see the world a little differently, something that makes someone know they aren’t alone in what they’re feeling, something that helps change the world.
6. What is your work ethic?
As I’ve gotten older and more mature, my work ethic has become more and more solidified. Besides my family, my friends, and my girlfriend, I try to make my writing my highest priority.
7. How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?
I read a lot of Billy Collins’ writing when I was younger. I think the biggest stylistic tactic I learned from Collins’ writing was how to incorporate a surprise into the end of my poems. My favorite writer is Ray Bradbury, who taught me numerous things about the art of writing, but above all, he showed me that writing should be joyous.
8. Who of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?
I try to read a lot of writers from the indie scene, along with many writers who are more recognized. I really admire all my of the authors at Moran Press, including Stephen Moran, Gabriel Ricard, Scott Wozniak, Shelby Kent-Stewart, and L.M. Bryski, because of how dedicated they are to their craft. I also think Kaveh Akbar is a genius and I love to read work by Hanif Abdurraqib, Terrance Hayes, and Natalie Diaz, among many others.
9. Why do you write?
Writing is something I have to do, like eating or sleeping. I’m always observing the world around me and making connections, and that’s really what poetry is all about. I get really obsessed with ideas and images and I have to put them down on paper. I think it’s also very therapeutic for me, and I believe it’s my responsibility an artist as to use my writing to try and make a difference in the world.
10. What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”
In my opinion, everyone has the ability to become a writer. You don’t have to have a college degree or years of training, although it’s definitely helpful to never stop trying to learn more. You really just have to be an observer of the world around you, passionate about your art, and extremely dedicated. You have to bring out the creative child everyone has inside them somewhere and read as much as you can. Hand that child the pen and see what happens.
11. Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.
I recently finished a new chapbook of poetry and I’m currently working on my next full length collection. I’m also working on an album of spoken word poetry and I’m looking for jazz musicians to collaborate with me on it.