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 contemporary poet and filmmaker currently residing in London, England. From her travels around the world, she has gained a unique voice and uses it to write her poems. Elisa has been writing since she could hold a pen and, with her mother’s encouragement, has made sure always to keep creating. With the publication of her first book, Elisa hopes to continue making more of both beautiful words and films. In her free time, she enjoys films, wine, and cuddling small animals.
She’s on Instagram as: @elisa.matvejeva
- When and why did you begin to write poetry?
I have an obsession with words. I always have. I love painting pictures with words that leave you hanging on even past the end of the poem. I was six when I wrote my first poem about the pains of getting a flu jab. The next poem I wrote when I was 16 and I was in English class in high school. Both of these were nothing special – I dismissed poetry. I didn’t even read much of it until I entered university. Then I came across several books and thought to myself “hey, I can do that”. And so I did. I told all of my friends that I am going to write a full collection and I did. Partly, it was something that I had to prove to myself that I could do. Another part found solace in poetry – the concise and beautiful words and painting pictures.
- Who introduced you to poetry?
My mom did. I was born in a small town in Latvia and my mom had always been a bookworm, so she passed it on to me. I remember reading poems by Latvian poet Vilis Pludonis with her when I was about five years old. I loved the rhymes.
Then, when I was about 14, I discovered Whitman and T.S. Eliot, which opened me up to a whole new world. I remember being amazed at their craftsmanship with words. Thank you, mom.
- How aware were and are you of the dominating presence of older poets?
I’m definitely very aware of it! Ever since discovering twitter, I’ve noticed that most poets are a lot older than me, making me feel as if I don’t really fit into the community that well. I’m lovely, I promise! It’s just difficult to try and break through the assumptions those older and more established poets might have about me, a young woman who writes poetry.
- What is your daily writing routine?
I’m ashamed to say that currently I do not have one. I wake up whenever, rush to university or the odd freelance photography job, and then come home exhausted. I’m looking to change this routine very soon to get some time for the coming poetry collection. On days that I do manage to have a daily writing routine, it’s a lot different. I wake up around eight, make some coffee, and browse social media for some inspiration. That usually makes me very productive for the day.
- What motivates you to write?
I think to write, to create, is the most important thing. To express yourself. We all long to be understood and loved for that understanding. My greatest goal in life is to inspire others. I want someone to look at my photography, or poetry, or my films and just say to themselves (and hopefully others) “hey, I really want to make something now”. That, and the need to understand myself. My entire adult life has been spent in search for a certain degree of self sufficiency. I believe the way to self sufficiency is paved in gold and introspection. You have everything you could ever need – you just need to learn how to get it. That motivates me to write and be introspective.
- What is your work ethic?
I’m an extremely hard worker. If you give me a task, I will do it efficiently. That’s for writing as much as it is for doing laundry. I’ll do it! That being said, I do like to take my time when it comes to creative outlets, such as writing. I like to search for moments when I could be at my ultimate level of efficiency, which is usually on inspired days. There are often times where I don’t write for two weeks at a time and then suddenly churn out five poems in one sitting. I’m still learning how to manage that.
- How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?
One book that 100% influenced me and my writing was The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Her writing is so visual and vivid, it made me want to explore visuals through my writing as well. Later it was definitely The Second Coming by W.B. Yeats and Howl by Allen Ginsberg. I think the angsty voice that has now emerged in my later writing has definitely come from the likes of Ginsberg.
- Who of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?
I cannot shout about this book enough, but Ocean Vuong’s Night Sky With Exit Wounds has been such an inspiration to me and my work that I cannot express it enough. He’s just a wizard with words, I cannot help but be inspired by the way his mind works and paints pictures. Another writer I admire is Deborah Levy. Her book Hot Milk changed my life in so many ways! After reading Hot Milk, I discovered that I really wanted to write a novel someday. An honourable mention is Rachel Cusk’s Outline. What all of these people have in common is that they are excellent with their visuals. They focus on details that catch you off guard. I cannot get enough of that!
- Why do you write?
I think I addressed it earlier, but to write is the same as breathing to me. I cannot imagine myself as anything other than a writer. I started my first novel, at the age of five, about a witch. Let’s keep in mind, this was pre-Harry Potter, as I was too scared to watch it. It was late at night and way past my bedtime, but I got out of bed as if struck by lightning and just began to write. It was the most therapeutic thing, I decided to continue this further. And here I am. It’s just second nature.
- What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”
You are your own biggest enemy. There is nothing your mind cannot do, yet you keep yourself on the shore instead of sailing out into the ocean of opportunities. If you want something, go fucking get it, because no one’s going to give you anything for nothing. Be kind to yourself, but also be harsh. Don’t let your mind hold you back! That’s how you become a writer. You wrestle with yourself in the belly of the beast and emerge victorious. Only then do you sit down and write about the scars you earned and how they have healed.
- Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.
Currently, I’m working on my second poetry collection! Yay! I’m beyond excited to share this with the world, as it’s completely different from my poetry in Flowers I Should Have Thrown Away Yesterday. My voice is a lot clearer and almost determined to make things right. I’m not vulnerable and soft anymore – I’m ready to debate the ills of this world, such as human suffering and the meaning of love. It’s a lot darker, but also precise. I’m thinking about calling it Nursing Sin. It’s about the horrible things we each hold on to, despite their toxicity. Hence, we nurse the sin of holding on. We enjoy our own suffering; we thrive off it. I’m also shooting a film called Chasing and doing various photography for musicians, actors, models, and fellow writers!