Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Gary Bills

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.

Gary Bills

was born in Wordsley, in the West Midlands, and currently lives in Herefordshire.  

He has published two poetry collections, which are The Echo and the Breath (Peterloo Poets, 2001) and The Ridiculous Nests of the Heart (bluechrome, 2003).

In 2005, he edited the anthology, The Review of Contemporary Poetry for bluechrome, sold on behalf of the Stroke Association.

He has won various prizes, including Poetry on the Lake’s Bill Winter Award in 2003, for the best short poem.

Gary is a graduate of Durham University, where he studied English Language and Medieval Literature. He is married to Heather, an artist, and the couple have a teenaged daughter, Isabella.

The Interview

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

Well, I first wrote poetry as an exercise at school, and I’d have been about 11 or 12. My efforts made the school magazine, which was gratifying; but I’d been reading poetry fairly regularly from about the age of eight – in fact, I remember reading Burns at that age, and Walter de la Mare, and Yeats – and so it was probably inevitable that I would try to write poetry myself at some point.

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

I think I probably introduced myself – reading anthologies of verse at Lawnswood Primary School, in Wordsley.
3. How aware were and are you of the dominating presence of older poets?

I don’t think I ever thought like that when I was younger. These days, I often get the impression of a youthful band of poets who are very interested in prizes, and themselves and very little else. Older poets, like me – I’m 55 next birthday… well, they can feel left out in the cold at times! It’s great you gave me a nudge, Paul! I’m very grateful!.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

I write for a living, as a journalist, most days. As a poet, and as a novelist – I write when I need to get something down. I can write all day, even for several days, or just for a few hours or so.

5. What motivates you to write?

Sometimes I just hear a line, or a good idea strikes me suddenly, and then I have to write.

6. What is your work ethic?

I don’t have one. Writing is not about rules, I’d say.

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

I think I was drawn early on to poets who knew their craft and were capable of writing a musical line – such as WB Yeats. I still believe such things are rather important.

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

I saw James Fenton perform at the Ledbury Poetry Festival a few years ago – I say perform, because he really did perform, putting everything into his reading and engaging with the audience. I wish I could do that! To hear “The Ballad of the Shrieking Man” performed like that was something I shall never forget.

9. Why do you write?

I write, I think, when my subconscious has been brewing something up and finally allows it to enter my ‘normal’ thought patterns. Then I have to get the words down, you see?.

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

I think I can say no more about that, other than what I’ve said already.

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

By choice, I publish poetry these days almost exclusively in HQ – a magazine run by a friend, Kevin Bailey. I have a third full collection ready to go, but no publisher at present! My first collection, The Echo and the Breath, came out with Peterloo – and Peterloo is no more, alas! My second collection, The Ridiculous Nests of the Heart, came out with bluechrome – and bluechrome also no longer exists….I’ve been unlucky, you might say.
This said, a novella, “A Letter for Alice“, should be out with a New York-based publisher in April or May, and I’m looking forward to that!

 

 

 

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