Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Jeanette Powers

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.

Jeanette Powers

is the founding editor of Stubborn Mule Press and a poet/painter with seven full length poetry books published, along with numerous gallery exhibitions and online journal publishing credits. They also are a founding member of FountainVerse: KC Small Press Poetry Fest, an annual festival celebrating the indie press poetry world and which has featured international and US based presses over three days each October. Powers has been awarded grants for the poetry fest, as well as for the POP POETRY: #12poetsin12months series which featured 36 KC based poets over three years in collaboration with Spartan Press. Their personal work focuses on feelings, avoiding the political and investigating the internal wonderscape of relationships, family and emotions in a way designed to reach beyond identity while staying fiercely personal. Their newest book, “Sparkle Princess vs Suicidal Phoenix” is available through their website at jeanettepowers.com and you can follow Jeanette at @novel_cliche .



The Interview

1. When and why did you start writing poetry?

I started writing very young. I was reading before even kindergarten and have always been a library brat. It just always felt right to be creative. I think all children probably feel this way, or at least do until they get a device in their hand. I didn’t get a phone till I was 32. Why did I start writing? I figured out that in my imagination, I am completely free. There are no hold barred, no limitations. I thrive in environments like that, and have just never stopped writing.

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

Wow, what an amazing question. I guess maybe was my fourth grade teacher, I definitely wrote my first poem in 4th grade. It was about a pegasus that I rode into the moonlight. But I wasn’t taken with poetry until high school when I was reading books from my school library. And I mean I really went through libraries as a kid, but this was the first one where I found the poetry section. I remember finding ee cummings and Sylvia Plath, but the poet that really took my breath away and whose book I stole was James Dickey. I think of that book often still, and here it is again. When I moved to the city after graduating, my education in poetry began in earnest, going to open mics and meeting lots of people who were voracious readers like me. It was a beautiful space in my life to be filled in with the classics and with a lot of the great modern Masters. The last decade though has been much more dedicated to reading living, contemporary poets.

2.1. Why did James Dickey take your breath away?

I suppose he sort of reminded me of my grandfather; the poems make sense, they have a weight of history, they have a certain amount of existential angst without it becoming pained or mewling. There’s also a joy and just a raw humanity. It’s not necessarily the poet that I would pick off my shelf today, but he sure set wheels going in my head.

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

I guess in some ways I’m not that aware of it then or now. It’s just all about what is relatable or interesting in terms of what I read or collect. I certainly see how, in many ways, older poets have more access to doing poetry because putting books out and touring are both expensive endeavors. I think many of the younger or marginalized poets just don’t have the opportunity to be read and heard due to financial restrictions. Which is why I’m always such a huge fan of the no-fee submissions. Of course it’s difficult for everyone in every way, but I very much feel that if you are going to dedicate yourself to building a press that is inclusive, then not charging fees is essential.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

I have struggled with routines my whole life, always wanting and always being too much of a being made of chaos to make it work. However, what works best most of the time is for me to wake up in the morning and not think of anything else in the world except for my own art, whatever project I’m working on at the time. I can work anywhere from an hour to three or four if I get on a roll. Then I go do my make-money work, read, socialize, drink. Sometimes, though, a project really calls for something special in terms of a routine. For instance, I wrote a novella in 2018 which required me to start writing tipsy and then just get extremely drunk to write. I couldn’t get the rage of the main character any other way. It’s a strange and very intense book. I think of it like character acting. You have to inhabit the space of your novel. Of course, poetry is only inhabiting the space of me, so that is easier to access. And I also love writing alone at bars or coffeeshops. In fact, tomorrow I’m going to a city (three hours from my country home!) just to do that! ha!

5. Method writing! What motivates you to write?

Method writing. Yes. That’s cool. I’m motivated by feelings, the most. I love the idea of the common denominator between people, things that interrupt the binaries of the world, emotion and feeling is a huge one. I’m interested in excavating those deep feelings that mostly go just felt and not put into words. I’m not interested in writing lectures or proselytizing, I’m interested in the dirty, hypocritical, angelic, joyful paradox of self and believe that is what makes us human. I have a natural deep compassion, and what my therapist once described as a penchant for dissociative identity disorder. This makes it easy to write. Also, I’m not afraid of telling the truth of my own stories, in fact, I view my own life as a subject through which I can practice writing. I can see I’m veering between my poetry and my novels a lot here … in some ways they are interchangeable in terms of motivation. I want to recreate a feeling, sometimes the poem is the right vehicle, sometimes a painting, sometimes performance art, sometimes a novel. I do so love when the world of a novel is born in my head, it’s addicting. Of course, you better be addicted because they take so damn long and so much focus to write.

6. What’s your work ethic?

I met a new doctor the other day and after a couple minutes, he looked at me and said “you are very self motivated, aren’t you.” That’s right, I said. I have a mantra, it goes like this: do the job completely with all of your conviction. do not lose focus on the job. do not stop until the job is done. do not stop until the job is right. do not cut a corner. measure twice, cut once. There are many verses to this mantra! I’ve been called the Energizer Bunny, Galadriel’s Light, Perpetual Motion Machine, Force of Nature on the regular, my work ethic is almost a sickness. In fact, being a workaholic is likely a coping mechanism. I’m just lucky I’ve learned to love to fail, that the perfectionist is mostly gone, that the auto-masochist in me retired, and now I mostly work in just a pure state of joy. Creation is the best playground I’ve ever found, you won’t catch me coming in from recess.

7. How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?

Not much, actually. I’ve always been a forward thinking person, and I’m voracious for what’s new, who’s new, what’s next. I go back and reread very rarely (unless it’s Dune, Neruda, Rilke, Atwood or Szymborska … or the Tao which I read daily). That’s why the indie press circuit fits my character so well, because the writers there are “the little makers of a pre-spice blast” (lol for Dune fans), contemporary writers are on the cusp of the now, their voice is my voice, this experience. It’s intoxicating. Same with painters and music and movies, I want what’s happening this moment (except for Duchamp, who was the greatest artist of all time!). I guess if I really thought about who influences me, it isn’t really another writer at all, it’s the lady pregnant with her fourth kid trying to buy a new car, it’s a tadpole turning into a frog, it’s falling in love, it’s a factory worker in January Toledo who can’t afford to heat his house, it’s how my dog can take so much pain without complaining, it’s how adopted children are really, really wanted. The list goes on and on, other writers, though? Just friends along for the ride, and bless them

7.1. Why go back and reread these authors?

Each of those authors have something distinct that touches me, they each feel like family. I suppose that’s why they stick around. You can’t get rid of family. Neruda for love, Rilke for philosophy, Wislawa for courage, Atwood for bite and range, Dune for religion. And the Tao because it’s the closest to truth I’ve ever found and I’ve searched far and wide. I once even got degrees in physics and math in the pursuit, to no avail.

8. Whom of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?

My favorite working poet is Nadia Wolnisty, she has this capacity of turning a metaphor like no one and also just this clearly raging passion and her performances are stunning. Michelle Q. Smith, is my newest favorite, I ran across her book Ariel in Black and was blown away, she had this way of accessing older works and responding to them which is intoxicating. I also love the former poet laureate, Juan Felipe Herrara, his poems are so alive they are literally dancing off the page. George Wallace has that same power. Mike James and Daniel Crocker, both poets you’ve interviewed are spectacular for their honesty and imagination … and humor. I love humor.

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

I feel in some ways this is the same question as “how do you become a queer person?” … I just am. Bukowski once said “if it doesn’t come bursting forth, don’t do it.” I would add “find what comes bursting forth for you.” That’s the really difficult thing in the world, finding what you want. Do that, try everything, when it bursts forth, you’ll know that is what you should be doing.

10. Tell me about writing projects you are involved in at the moment.

Thanks so much for taking the time to interview me, Paul! It’s been fun chatting with you. I’m currently working on a screenplay called “Southern White Democrat” which tells the story of a white boy growing up in the Jim Crow south in a wealthy, politically connected family. It’s fascinating and dark. The research exposed so much of the deep trauma of American race relationships that I was unaware of, in fact, that many people are unaware of. It was intense and disappointing and I’m glad to have learned. It makes one want to learn everything, and proves “fake news” has been around a long time. I’m also writing poems as always, but no new plans to put out a book this year. I’ll be touring 2019 on my new and selected from Spartan Press, “Sparkle Princess vs. Suicidal Phoenix”. I’m writing a new novel, my sixth now, and what else … OH. Editing. I need to edit all those novels. It’s way more fun to write them than it is to edit them, ha!

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Gregory Luce

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.


Gregory Luce

is the author of Signs of Small Grace (Pudding House Publications), Drinking Weather (Finishing Line Press), Memory and Desire (Sweatshoppe Publications), and Tile (Finishing Line). His poems have appeared in numerous print and online journals, and in the anthologies Living in Storms (Eastern Washington University Press), Bigger Than They Appear (Accents Publishing), and Unrequited and Candlesticks and Daggers (ed. Kelly Ann Jacobson). In 2014 he was awarded the Larry Neal Award for adult poetry by the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities. Retired from the National Geographic Society, he lives in Arlington, VA, and works as a volunteer writing tutor/mentor for 826DC. He blogs at https://dctexpoet.wordpress.com.

The Interview

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

I don’t remember exactly when, but it was some time in my childhood. I know that like nearly all elementary school students, I would have written poems as assignments on occasion. I must have enjoyed it enough to write on my own. As to why, who can say?

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

Before I could read, I of course was read and sung nursery rhymes, Mother Goose and the like. But my most significant exposure to poetry came when my grandmother would read to me from A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson. Later when I could read myself, I went back to that book over and over. I learned that Stevenson as a child was often ill and confined to bed, as reflected in his poem “The Land of Counterpane” (my favorite in the book). Without being conscious of it at the time, I felt a connection to the boy in the poem. I wasn’t a sickly child, but when I was forced by illness to stay in bed, I too would create battles with my own toy soldiers. it was an early lesson in the power of poetry to communicate across distances, cultures, and time.

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

I wouldn’t say older (or no longer living) poets ever had a “dominating” presence. Certainly as I began to write poetry seriously in the latter years of high school. I read a great deal of poetry, especially the English Romantics and a few randomly selected modern poets like T.S. Eliot, Robert Frost, and Marianne Moore. I can’t say that any modern poets had much influence on my own writing; on the other hand the Romantics had a powerful and deadly influence. Most of my juvenilia was…well, calling it a pastiche of Keats, Shelley, et al. would be too kind. Later, in college, grad school, and after, I read widely in the work of major modern American poets like W.C. Williams, Robert Creeley, Wallace Stevens, Frank O’Hara (all of whom continue to have a strong influence on my poetry), and many others. But I wouldn’t call their presence dominating.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

If you mean specifically relating to poetry, I don’t have one. I start writing a poem when some kind of inspiration—a word, a line, an image—strikes me and provides enough fuel to keep me going. But I do keep a (more or less) daily journal that I occasionally mine for possible poem starters.

5. What motivates you to write?

The perhaps egotistical notion that I can create something that will communicate or give pleasure to other people. The joy in finishing a poem that I believe to be good, or at least the best I can make it. The sheer bliss of being in the flow of composition and not noticing time passing or external distractions.

6. What is your work ethic?

I try to be diligent in noting the sorts of inspiration I mentioned above. I do the best I can to keep up with my journal just to keep my pen limber if nothing else. When inspiration does occur I try not to let too much time pass before sitting down to write. The rest of the time I endeavor to stay alert to the phenomenal world, to conversations around me, to my own emotions, all of which provide rich material for poems.

7. How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?

The question of influence is always fraught. W.C. Williams and Creeley taught me the value of concision. O’Hara taught and continues to teach me that the stuff of mundane daily life can be made into poetry by the use of the right language. Robert Lowell reminds me that my inner life of emotion is a valid source as well as possible common ground with the reader, provided I find the proper language. Many others have no direct influence on my style but serve as exemplars of the power of and need for poetry.

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

My answers to this shift as I discover new (to me) writers, but at the moment I most admire younger writers of color like Ada Limón, Erica Dawson, Morgan Parker, Rachel Eliza Griffiths, Terrance Hayes—these are just a few of many (and I notice most of them are also women). They write honestly and fiercely about their experiences in dealing with the special challenges of American life for non-white and/or non-male citizens yet also find time and words to praise. They have enriched American poetry by introducing the rhythms and charged language of hip hop and other Black vernaculars, by infusing American English with Spanish, by exposing the double-edged experience of being both female and of color. My impression is that most of the best and most powerful work in American poetry today is being done by writers who in the past would have been marginalized or unheard.

9. Why do you write?

Why do I breathe? Not to be flippant, I can’t not. The drive to write is too strong to disregard. Plus it brings enormous joy and has brought me into a community of poets and poetry lovers that I cherish both for the social enrichment and for the inspiration and motivation to write that it gives me.

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

Read a lot, poetry and other literature, of course, but also newspapers, advertising, whatever uses words that draw you in. Pay attention to your surroundings. Look hard at everything and don’t be afraid to eavesdrop. Then pick up your pen (or pencil) and write.

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

I have one chapbook manuscript under consideration at a small press. I am also gathering the poems I have written about music and musicians into a chapbook ms., though by the time I’m done it could become a full-length book since I keep returning to that subject. Otherwise it’s just writing, writing, writing.

In Memoriam: Albert Finney (1936-2018)

A worthy tribute

Funk's House of Geekery

It is my sad duty to report that five time Oscar nominee Albert Finney has passed away at the age of eighty-two after a battle with cancer.

Born into a lower middle class family in Salford, England, Finney, the son of a bookmaker, got a chance to study at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, where his fellow students included acting greats Peter O’Toole and Alan Bates. Finney’s acting career began in the theater where after graduating RADA, he joined the Royal Shakespeare company, starring in numerous plays. Albert Finney was part of the new wave of British cinema of the 1960s, receiving his first screen role in 1960’s The Entertainer alongside Laurence Olivier. Later that year his breakout role would come in Saturday Night and SundayMorning.

Albert Finney would go on to star in dozens of films over the next seven decades receiving four Academy Award nominations…

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100 days: an idea worth spreading

Excellent post from Thom.

Thom Sullivan

Thom Sullivan  Poet Poetry NaPoWriMo 08

When I speak to school students about poetry, I often tell them about an exercise or challenge I’ve used to help me write. The idea of 30 or 100-day projects began for me with a TEDx Auckland talk, called Inspiration Wherever You Are, The 100 Days Project, by New Zealand graphic designer Emma Rogan:

As Emma Rogan explains in her talk, it’s an idea she’s adapted from Michael Beirut, a graphic designer and design critic at the Yale School of Art. Each year he asks his students to undertake a project where they repeat one simple creative exercise of their choice every day for 100 days.

I’ve used the practice for periods of 100 days, or 30 days, and it’s the latter I usually recommend to students. For example, in the past, my daily exercise was as simple as writing a 12 line draft of a poem, perhaps…

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A celebration of black culture.



“I’m not going to die, I’m going home like a shooting star.” The Narrative of Sojourner Truth Sojourner Truth and Olive Gilbert

Ain’t I a Woman is posted here today in honor of Black History Month  (February) and International Women’s Day (IWD), coming up on March 8.

One of the many guises in which poetry presents itself:  American actress Alfrie Woodard delivers New Yorker Sojourner Truth‘s spontaneous speech, Ain’t I a Woman. Sojourner gave this speech at the Women’s Convention in Akron, Ohio in May of 1851.


African-American Abolitionist and Women’s Rights Activist

Black History Month is an opportunity to remember and celebrate the people and events of the African Diaspora.

Two recommended sites to visit for this celebration:

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Wombwell Rainbow Interviews Author Updates: Isabelle Kenyon and Planet In Peril

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews Author Updates

An occasional series focussing on an author’s progress. Any author already interviewed is welcome  to contact me about any developments in their career, new publications or events.

My Post


Isabelle Kenyon

  1. Tell me about your latest project.

Planet in Peril is a national competition to get people writing in creating artwork on the theme of global warming and climate change. The competition offers cash prizes and publication in the future gorgeous hardback, glossy anthology: ‘ Planet in Peril’.  This anthology will combine the latest scientific research, as annotated by Dr Michelle Cain, Oxford University, with stunning photography and artwork and talented poets. This competition has a massive outreach program, getting schools and especially young people writing and engaged with global warming. The book will fundraise for my partners WWF and The Climate Coalition.

2. How do you believe anthologies will help charities?

The anthologies help my links charities in two ways. Firstly, the fundraising is an obvious bonus for them! Also, their profile is raised and connected to the arts. I believe that projects such as those of Fly on the Wall Press, increase positive activism through the arts.

3. Why a competition?

As other publishers realise, Charity anthology projects are almost impossible to offer free copies or payment to the artists and poets involved. In order to be able to reward my prize-winners with a prize fund in each category and free copies to everyone involved, the competition came about. It also means that under 18’s can enter the competition for free and that the outreach program can take place. I believe that where the arts meets education, such as in this project, great things can be achieved, and this is a massive part of what ‘ Planet in Peril’ represents.

4. How did this project come about?

I wanted to do something which type of the most important issue in society today, and to me this is clearly global warming.

5. Can writers contribute outside the competition?

It is just submission by the competition but there are a limited number of unwaged applications, which have been kindly sponsored.

6. Are any other writer involved in the project?

There will be a large number of poets and artists involved, however my featured artist is Helen Mort, the former Derbyshire Poet Laureate!

7. Why is it important to include schools and young people in this?

It is important that creative projects are accessible to young people for free and that schools are able to inspire them through both science and art. Sometimes in education the two are separated but this project will encourage schools and young people to look at both together.



Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Miss Kiane

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.

syncopated hearts kiane

Miss Kiane

Author, performer, facilitator, coach and entrepreneur, Miss Kiane loves all things artsy. She has extensive experience writing, directing, and performing in theatrical productions. Miss Kiane has shared her poetry in several venues including Busboys and Poets, Mayorga Coffee House, Storytellers, Organic Soul and the Synergy Center. As a published poet, she was honored as the Poetry Society’s Who’s Who in Poetry. Miss Kiane also served as the Chief Organizer for the DC Poetry Spot, a DC Meetup Group for writers, poets and creative scribblers for four years.

Miss Kiane is the owner and president of Kiane Ink Healing in the Pen, LLC, a creative arts company that uses poetry and creative expression as a platform for hope, healing and social change. Kiane Ink has expanded to include spoken word performances, reflective writing workshops, individual coaching and charitable open mic events. Miss Kiane is the author of two chapbooks; Think on These Things and Syncopated Hearts. Lastly, Kiane Ink recently established a non-profit called The InkWELL whereby individuals contending with grief, loss and/or trauma may benefit from cathartic writing programs in places like schools, juvenile centers, churches, community centers and more.

As a Licensed Graduate Social Worker, Miss Kiane enjoys melding her profession with her passion by helping others to access levels of personal healing, empowerment and growth through the power of poetry and creative expression. In her own words, “Poetry is my friend, my catharsis…my gift to the world.”

Her chapbook Syncopated Hearts was released in 2016 and will be relaunched on Amazon March 2019!

Her website is: www.kianeink.com

The Interview

  1. When and why did you start writing poetry?

Hi Paul! Thanks for promoting poetry and allowing me to be a part of your efforts.

I started writing poetry according to my mother at the tender age of 3…smile. My mother is deceased but I found a hand written scribble in her hand writing that stated Dinahsta’s first poem age 3:

Little flea had wings but never learned to fly.

Pretty deep huh?

My personal first recollection of writing was in the 2nd grade. I attended elementary school in the Midwest in the early seventies and during that time the arts were highly encouraged and infused into the regular curriculum. My teacher asked us to write something about a topic that we liked. I wrote about love and used my mother as my inspiration. I did not know all of the in’s and out’s of metaphors and inspiration, but it seemed quite natural to me. My ppe. Was entitled, What is the Meaning of Love? The city had a city-wide school magazine whereby teachers would submit their student’s writings, paintings even musical scores to this magazine for publication. My first published poem was when I was in the 2nd grade i. The city-wide Totem magazine.

Later, however, I wrote quite often. Specifically after the passing of my mother when I was 12. Poetry became my therapy. ….literally. I used it as a place to emote and express all of the painful feelings that I felt no one else could understand.

I continue to use poetry as a therapeutic measure. I also help others use it as such. But now it is not only an outlet for my painful feelings but a wherewithall to express joy, faith and give voice to stories both mine and others .

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

In school we did study traditional poets and to be quite honest poetry was never really presented in an exciting way to me until much later in my life. I remember the first time I heard Maya Angelou’s poem Phenomenal Woman someone recited it and the words on the page came alive to me. At that point I became interested in not only reading poetry but also hearing it or experiencing it. So writers such as Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, Maya Angelou and Gwendolyn Brooks were the Genesis of my awareness to established poets and writers. If I were to reflect on poets that may have in their own way influenced my writing I would probably have a very eclectic list. For example, Shel Silverstein- my favorite poetic story teller. He is clever, humorous and deep. I may not be as clever and many may not chuckle at my humor, but I took away from him the intentionality of telling what seemed to be a simple story while weaving in weighty truths. Edgar Allen Poe. He was a very dark writer; however, there was this prophetc rhythm he excelled at conveying. He did not shy away from the darkness. Sometimes I try to capture Poe’s spirit by Painting the picture as it is even the darkness so that others can see it, sense it and definitely not ignore it. Gwendolyn Brooks. A legend in her own right….known for poetically speaking to the black experience. I can say without much reservation that many of my pieces are intentional in painting a visual of circumstances, situations, people, or stories that have been silenced or that need to be placed on the front row of our minds even if it be for just the length of the poem.

3. What is your daily writing routine?

I think a weekly writing routine is probably more accurate…smile. I have a weekly writing challenge called Words on Wednesdays whereby a random word is chosen from words collected from followers on social media. The challenge is to write something with the word in it, write something about that word or use that word to inspire something you write. This exercise is extremely helpful in ensuring that I write something regularly. In addition, my personal process includes journaling and building on one liners or refrains that I hear in my head and think…I think this is a poem or This is a performance peace. When I have a special project (writing a customized piece for a customer or for an occasion), I write more methodically, researching, reading and analyzing.

4. What motivates you to write?

Motivation for me is fluid. I am motivated by various things. As I mentioned before….pain, loss or injustice may motivate me to write. Of late, I’ve probably written more about injustices or societal issues that really bother me more often than not. I am also motivated by my faith in God. To encourage others poetically to have hope, believe, trust the process etc. is very much a part of my poetic purpose.

5. What is your work ethic?

Miss Kiane: May you elaborate or specify?

The idea that the work you do is virtuous in itself. So, for example trying to get as much done in an hour as possible. Or, it is important to achieve deadlines. Other writers may not be so diligent, preferring to wait for inspiration, and feel that once it becomes a chore it is not worth doing.

Miss Kiane: Hmmmmm…..As it pertains to my writing, I never want it to become a chore….it is often a challenge but once it becomes laborious or obligatory, the quality or the authenticity of what I produce suffers. Deadlines are necessary for projects and assignments but even within that period, I work through inspiration and meditation. So for example, if I have an assignment to write a poem for a screenplay and I have 45 days to do so, I appreciate and NEED that deadline to give me boundaries; however, how i work within those boundaries, I prefer to be given autonomy. I am not likely to hold myself to things like ‘write an hour each day’. My process involves deep contemplation, internal reflection (what message do I want or that needs to be conveyed, what emotion do I want to evoke, is it rhythmic or melodic etc.) This mental rumination may go on several days before I even write anything down. I prefer to work through inspiration, authenticity vs. the rigidity of a hardcore writing schedule. As far as ‘waiting’ for inspiration…I used to depend solely on such and at the time inspiration was unhampered by work, mortgages, dogs that need walking and life’s responsibilities..smile. So now that adulting is my fulltime job, I’ve learned how to employ a balance for my style of writing – when inspiration hits, write it down go with it, but don’t be too proud to come back rearrange, tweak or often in my case finish. Engaging in writing workshops and/or clubs that utilize prompts to help stir creativity outside of inspiration has been extremely helpful to me as I now can exercise the creative muscle without the initiation of external inspiration.

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

Wow..after thinking hard about this, I realized that most of my highly admired poets have passed…even recently. For example, Delores Kendrick, DC’s Poet Laureate, passed 2017 but is one that I admire not just for her poetry but also for advocacy for poetry programs for emerging young writers. I had the privilege of taking a workshop with her and her dissection and instruction of how to wield the poetic pen was eye opening. Her work is powerful and concise. Poignant…. Adjectives I would like to be ascribed to my work one day.

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

Miss Kiane: Professionally?


Miss Kiane: I would 1st ask them to do an internal assessment of why they want to write, what message do they feel they are the conduit for, what’s their personal motivation…is it money, fame or passion, enjoyment, higher purpose etc. (Both are fine but the approach may differ). Secondly, write…then write some more. Seek the professional guidance to perfect your craft, find your niche, voice and audience. One thing that I have not done as frequently as perhaps I should is submit my work to journals and things of that nature. My dislike of competition as a relates to my writing has often inhibited my submission but submitting your work particularly where there may be Room for constructive criticism can only improve your work as well as help you to network to move forward in the professional realm of writing. Lastly, I would say educate yourself on the industry. This is to include classes, workshops, retreats, reading materials…in other words INVEST in you.. We cannot expect others like publishers to invest in us if we are unable or unwilling to do so for ourselves.

8. Final question: Tell me about a writing project you are involved in at the moment.

I am currently a part of a writing collective that was summoned together by a poet and author friend because of our different styles and poetic voices. Those differences make us no less talented but the intersection of our gifts make for a dynamic team to say the least. We are embarking on a poetry collection publication whereby I have contributed several poems. This collection has several purposes but one of the main purposes I think is to showcase what great things can manifest when diversity is embraced and used as a unifying factor versus a separating one. We are hoping to release the book no later than April 2019.

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Ella Frears

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.

Passivity, Electricity, Acclivity

Ella Frears

is a poet, visual artist and curator living and working in south-east London. She has had poetry published in various publications including Poetry London, Ambit, The Rialto, Poetry Daily, POEM, and the Moth among othersHer debut pamphlet Passivity, Electricity, Acclivity is out with Goldsmiths Press (available via Burley Fisher Books). Ella was shortlisted for the Manchester Poetry Prize 2017.

Ella is a trustee and editor for Magma Poetry. She was awarded a fully funded scholarship for the MA in Creative Writing at Royal Holloway University 2016 and was awarded a place on the prestigious Jerwood/Arvon mentoring scheme.

In 2014, she was shortlisted for Young Poet Laureate for London with Spread the Word. She was also shortlisted twice for the Jane Martin Poetry Prize from Cambridge University and for the Bridport Poetry Prize 2015.

Ella has completed residencies for the National Trust, Tate Britain, SPUD (the Observatory) and most recently was poet in residence at Royal Holloway University physics department writing about the Cassini Space Mission for which she curated a multi-media ‘funeral’ event at Bold Tendencies, Peckham, on the night the spacecraft tumbled out of orbit (15th Sept 2017).

In April 2017, Ella curated an eight-day exhibition at Newlyn Art Gallery: RESISTANCE – A Short Guide to Self-Improvement as part of their Palace of Culture season which, alongside works commissioned from female filmmakers and poets, included a programme of live events, readings, workshops and talks.
She performs regularly across London and further afield including Kings Place, the Free Word Centre and the RSL. Ella was also guest speaker/poet on a panel at WoW (Women of the World) Festival at the South Bank Centre. She guest lectures at Falmouth University and University East London in Fine Art, and Creative Writing.

Her collaborative installation with artist Ben Sanderson, The Six Pillars of Modernism, was on show at Tate St.Ives, Oct 2017 – July 2018. She is currently one of four poets shortlisted for an Arts Foundation Fellowship 2019.


The Interview

  1. What inspired you to write poetry?

In my second year of my BA at Goldsmiths we had to choose between poetry and prose. I chose poetry. The class was taught by Eva Salzman who swore a lot, was passionate and fierce. She showed us lots of brilliant poems by contemporary poets then beat us at pool in the pub after. We wrote strange, raw (probably not very good) poems that year and I fell in love with it.

  1. Who introduced you to poetry?

My parents were never that interested in poetry, but they did get me to memorise the Jabberwocky aged 4 (it’s still the only poem I can recite). I had a very bad English teacher in secondary school who almost turned me off language entirely. At sixth form college however the teaching was great. Our A level English Lit teacher, Jackie, read us Plath’s ‘Daddy’ at the beginning of every class – she was brilliant.

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

I’ve had a lot of support and encouragement from older poets. I never felt shut out or intimidated – although I’m aware that’s not the case for everyone. Grants, scholarships and mentoring were so vital while I was waitressing full time – they helped me keep writing. With the poetry community being so small, you end up meeting – or at least being in the same room as – your heroes quite early on. I only have positive feelings about these encounters.

  1. What is your daily writing routine?

I’m self employed and work from home so it’s a bit erratic. I don’t tend to get dressed – it feels like a waste of clothes. I’m pretty sure my neighbours/postman think I’m either depressed or a prostitute – maybe both. I drink a lot of tea.

I read until I feel ready to write. On good writing days I’ll write through lunch until the evening without stopping. On bad days I’ll tidy, make elaborate lunches that take ages to prepare and scroll endlessly through twitter.

If I’m working on a particular project or residency things tend to get a bit chaotic about a week before the deadline. I have to remember to leave the house occasionally.

  1. What motivates you to write?

I guess I feel compelled to write and I’m not totally sure why. I’m less good at finishing poems though – so I need regular deadlines to motivate me to finish.

  1. What is your work ethic?

I enjoy my work. I also need a certain amount of projects, residencies etc to make rent. So I work hard and sometimes it feels great and sometimes it’s a bit of a struggle. Mostly I love it.

  1. How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?

I was deeply affected by the women writers I read when I was younger – Sylvia Plath, Toni Morrison, Jean Rhys… I think there were ideas or phrases that stuck in my head and that reappear in my work again and again in various guises.

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

There are so many! I’m really excited by the things being written today. If I listed as many as I could now, I’d almost certainly miss someone vital, so I wont. But contemporary poetry is in a great place at the moment with more marginalised voices being recognised and celebrated than before- and that’s never a bad thing. More of that please!

I also edit Magma Poetry magazine so I get to see a lot of work by new, often unpublished writers all the time. There’s so, so much good stuff going on.

  1. Why do you write, as opposed to doing anything else?

I’m also a visual artist – although my visual arts practice often involves text.

I don’t know why writing is my thing – maybe it won’t always be. Right now, I love it.

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


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

I’m just finishing a year-long project with Tate St Ives writing poems about the St Ives Modernists (Hepworth, Nicholson, Heron, et al.). They’ll be on display in the galleries this year.

I’m also writing some poems and planning an event about Cornish Path Moss (an at risk species endemic to Cornwall) for conservation organisation Back from the Brink.

There’s an exciting project in its early stages with Photographer Toby Glanville, who I worked with last year during a residency for K6 Gallery in Southampton.

I’m co-editing the current issue of Magma (on the theme of ‘Changeling’) with brilliant poet Richard Scott which will be launched in March/April this year.

And alongside these, very slowly, I’m finishing my first collection.

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: EM STRANG

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.



Em is a poet and Open Book lead reader. She also facilitates workshops in Embodied Poetry, looking at the relationship between psychology, somatic experience and creative practice. Her writing preoccupations are with ‘nature’, spirituality and the relationship between the human and nonhuman. Em’s work has been published widely in anthologies and journals, was shortlisted for the 2014 Bridport Prize and selected for the Forward Anthology 2017. Bird-Woman, her first full collection, was published by Shearsman in October 2016. Bird-Woman was shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Best First Collection Prize and won the 2017 Saltire Poetry Book of the Year Award. Her second collection, Horse-Man, will be published in September 2019.

The Interview

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

I began writing poetry age 16. At least, that’s when I began writing ‘in earnest’, and oh boy, some of it was really earnest! At the time, it was a refuge for me; a way of processing stuff with words and images; and a means (along with other intoxicants) of escaping reality. It was also a gateway into the minds and lives of others – reading other poets’ work made me feel part of a community of people who thought and felt like I did. To the outside world, though, poetry was my own private realm. I almost never shared what I wrote – that wasn’t important to me at the time. I got hooked quickly and haven’t stopped making poems since.

  1. Who introduced you to poetry?

School teachers. In particular, an English teacher called Mr Craddock in secondary school. He lit the fire of poetry in me and then derided my attempts to write it. I’ve never forgotten the ascerbic remarks he made about my first batch of poems. It took me years to pluck up the courage to share my work after that.

  1. How aware were and are you of the dominating presence of older poets?

When I began writing poetry, I suppose I was aware, in that I looked up to older (and dead) poets and admired their work. I remember feeling glad that they’d written such great poems and it inspired me to keep going. I did pedestal them, though, for sure, and sometimes I’d whine that there was no way I was ever going to write like them. Nowadays, I’m glad I don’t write like anyone else. I don’t experience older poets (or dead ones) as dominating; I’m just getting on and doing what I do. The comparison game is one of endless suffering.

  1. What is your daily writing routine?

I don’t have a daily writing practice. Actually, that’s not strictly true. I write in my journal every morning, but it’s generally not poetry and it’s only for 5 minutes. The only daily practice I have which I’m incredibly disciplined about is meditation, prayer, journaling and yoga. If poems come, that’s a bonus.

However, not having a daily writing practice is a new development in my creative life: from about age twenty until my early forties, I got up at 6am every morning without fail and wrote for an hour and a half. Once children came along, that was sometimes interrupted, but I stuck to this routine like glue for more than two decades.

  1. What motivates you to write?
  • A desire to dig beneath the surface of everyday life.
  • An utter delight in the feel and sound and imagery of words.
  • A search for the sacred and the divine.
  • A poem’s ‘demand’ to be written down.
  1. What is your work ethic?

Never force a poem. Write when you’re inspired to write. Commit to your work wholeheartedly. Show up at the page when you know you have to. Never beat yourself up about ‘not writing enough’. Never over-congratulate yourself on producing multiple, award-winning tomes. Just write, but only if you love it, not because you’ve got tangled up in the identity trap of ‘I am a poet’. Having said that, I had to go through that, so maybe it’s a kind of rite of passage?

  1. How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?

I think they influence me enormously. I still love the poets I loved as a young woman – Walt Whitman, R.S. Thomas, Tomas Tranströmer, Raymond Carver, Elizabeth Bishop, Rumi – and I think their diverse mixture of pared back clarity, spiritual exuberance and psychological insight are all evident in my work.

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

Alice Oswald because her poems are alive in a somatic sense – I receive them bodily. I love her risk-taking and playfulness, her incredible ear and the way in which she uses myth to explore the human condition.

Mourid Barghouti because of the powerful simplicity, poignancy and directness of his writing, and the fact that he has never given up.

Nikola Madzirov because I adore the unmistakable flavour of Eastern European writing – a kind of pure, hardcore plum brandy. Again, it’s the ‘cleanness’ of the language that I’m drawn to; nothing is extraneous.

  1. Why do you write?

To thrive.

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

I’d say forget about ‘becoming a writer’ and become a human being who writes and reads a lot. I’d say read books that make you come alive and write stuff for fun. I’d say play and allow yourself to say whatever you want, no holds barred.

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

I’m currently in the final editing phase of my second poetry collection, Horse-Man, which is coming out with Shearsman in September 2019.

I’m also punting my first, very short novel, Quinn, around various publishing houses.

I’m working on a new, long, narrative poem about identity, which I think has quite a lot to do with the Divine Mother.

I’ve a non-fiction book on the backburner, The Contemplative Mind: Poetry in the Making, as I don’t have time for it at the moment.