Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Kushal Poddar

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.

Kushal Final Cover

Kushal Poddar

Edited the online magazine ‘Words Surfacing’.
Authored ‘The Circus Came To My Island’ (Spare Change Press, Ohio), “A Place For Your Ghost Animals” (Ripple Effect Publishing, Colorado Springs), “Understanding The Neighborhood” (BRP, Australia), “Scratches Within” (Barbara Maat, Florida), “Kleptomaniac’s Book of Unoriginal Poems”  (BRP, Australia) and “Eternity Restoration Project- Selected and New Poems” (Hawakal Publishers, India)

Author Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/KushalTheWriter/

Twitter- https://twitter.com/Kushalpoe

The Interview

1. What inspired you to write poetry?

– I began writing at the age of six; hence it was mostly about what I read, or about summertime or even about my favourite sweets. Nowadays it is my skirmish with outer reality, society, about stoicism, my daily life, my wife, our love, my daemons etc.

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

– I wish the answer were as simple as ‘my mother’, ‘school curriculum’ or ‘my uncle’. It is a mixture of them all and my curiosity. I found some poetry books in my uncle’s possession and although he would say “These you cannot understand” I went on to read those and comprehend those. They took me to an alternative reality. I realised- this is my calling.

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

– I shall not say, dominating. I shall say, inspiring. They even inspire to contradict themselves. If establishments were not present then anti-establishment was not needed.
I am grateful for the influence of O’Hara, Bishop, Ashbery, Simic, Wright, Strand, Hoagland and Doty on me.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

– I begin my day with toasted news and then further reading of books and even comic books. Reading usually sparks certain thoughts. Sometimes certain word someone used in his essay or in his fiction ignites a complete poem irrelevant to the actual reading I was meandering through.
Even a dialogue written for Batman’s Joker may have sparked a poem on the philosophy.
It happened that I am watching a movie with my wife and I had to pause it to write something. It comes urgently, and if I delay in penning down an emotion it wanes. I try to write at least one poem a day. It keeps my doctors at bay.

5. What motivates you to write?

– Nothing is too sacred to write; nothing is too low. Motivations are alive just like my mind. My old room that had a failed window was an inspiration to dark subjects. The park nearby and any body of water motivates me. A lone walk or a random conversation with any animal, injustice or an act of kindness all motivates me.

6. What is your work ethics?

– I believe that I bear the cross of writing my head out, every day, each excruciating one, and that I shall never write anything endorsing a communal violence or in favour of a religious or extremely right wing politics. I don’t write anything that will sound obscure to even a well read poetry lover. A part of any work of mine should have something for everyone.

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

– I learned rhyme, rhythm, meter and beats through reading. The writers I read framed a mind-set. I do sometimes break this frame but since I do it consciously their influence actually remains there.
From the critical essayists I learned restrain.
From the novelists I learned to open my experience. Anything is true when it is written well.

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

– Today is abstract. Amongst the living writers I admire Rae Armantrout for her clear brevity. Kevin Young and Ilya Kaminsky for their skills with the language and usage to do their wide ambit of subjects full justice. Aimee Nezhukumatathil or Melissa Studdard for their rich perspectives and metaphors.

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

– Other things, chores or jobs cage me, choke me. Writing is the key I drew from my birth pool that opens my existence.

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

– I am writing a book of poems rather experimental for me as well as a book of flash fictions. They may surprise my usual readers.

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Natalie Holborow

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.

And

Natalie Holborow

is a Swansea-born writer of poetry and fiction. In 2015, she won both the Terry Hetherington Award and the Robin Reeves Prize, and in 2016 was named as runner-up in the Wales PENCymru New Voices Award. She has been commended and shortlisted for various others including the Bridport Prize and Hippocrates Prize. Natalie’s work has recently appeared in The Stinging Fly and the New Welsh Review.

The Interview

1. What inspired you  to write poetry?

I think this began in my GCSE English Literature class, when my teacher introduced us to Seamus Heaney’s Mid-Term Break. She taught it with passion and all of a sudden, after only having been exposed to poetry that was rhyming and archaic and (in my opinion) relatively inaccessible for teenagers, I felt myself becoming totally struck by the effect poetry could have on human emotions. I remember the impact of the speaker’s mother as she held his hand and “coughed out angry tearless sighs”. So much raw grief condensed into one sharp image left me reeling. I wanted to do that then. I wanted to make people feel things through words – to create beauty out of emotion.

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

As mentioned above, this was my GCSE English teacher Mrs Gill and A level lecturer Judith. A lot of my teachers have been huge positive influences for me just through their passion for poetry and support of my writing. Lecturers such as Nigel Jenkins and John Goodby also inspired me with their own work and their valuable feedback. A good teacher really can open doors to exciting worlds – and the world I was drawn to was poetry.

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

I don’t think it was ‘dominating’ as such – that has negative connotations. In fact, the Terry Hetherington Award for young writers, the Swansea poetry community (which has a total mix of ages and backgrounds), as well as unfailing support from teachers and peers meant I never felt like I was “too young” to try seriously in getting my work out there. I think the Welsh writing community in particular is very supportive and encouraging of young writers, and is overall genuinely excited by new talent.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

Daydream. Lots. Try and talk to me when I’m in that beautiful half-dreaming, half-awake state at five in the morning when I’m off for a run and you’ll be met with a glare only Medusa could muster for pulling me out of my most creative time of day. I sometimes get to work extra-early so that I can get some notes down before I start my content-writing job at 9; that way I’ve got something to work on later and it won’t be eating away at me while I’m trying to focus on work. Then I’ll take my notebook out at lunchtime, read, write, and then if I’m feeling creative after I leave the office I’ll get to my writing desk and work on the ideas I thought about earlier in the day.

5. What motivates you to write?

I work best under pressure. It’s why I keep myself so busy. I’m also driven by my need to connect with others through my writing in the same way I get so much joy myself from reading poetry.

6. What is your work ethic?

The busier I am with other things, the more I see working on my poetry manuscript as a reward rather than a chore. My idea of hell is to be a full-time writer only working on my creative work; without my other career in writing for learning and development, my creativity would fizzle out. The two complement each other perfectly and I love them both. I also volunteer and do freelance writing and editing, so I’ve always got a varied workload to keep me inspired. Whenever anyone asks me if I’m a full-time poet (try asking about that one at the job centre…), I get this image of myself weeping into a glass of bourbon and covered in cats, surrounded by unpaid bills and hopeless manuscripts. Not for me.

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

They’ll always have an influence, as it’s how I first found my ‘voice’ in writing. It’s how we learn to do things as children, such as learning to speak; we mimic others first before we’re fully able to do it autonomously. Seamus Heaney, Dylan Thomas and Sylvia Plath (Plath especially) will always make their echoes known when I’m putting the words to paper. Those who influenced you can almost leave a sort of palimpsest – a ghost of their style forever subtly layered behind your own.

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

Oh, I hate this question! I have too many to possibly pick one. I adore Anne Carson’s Autobiography of Red and Red Doc> in particular; she has an unbelievably sharp eye for detail and is incredible at her craft. As for local writers, we’re spoilt for choice in Wales. More recently, Rhian Elizabeth, Rhys Owain Williams, Mari Ellis Dunning and Jonathan Edwards have released some truly brilliant collections worth looking at. As for ones to watch in the future, keep your eye out for Lee Prosser, Rhea Seren Philips and Emily Vanderploeg.

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

Be authentic, first and foremost. Don’t try and be someone you’re not; you’ll fail to connect with your readers. We already have Dylan Thomas and Tolkien, Maya Angelou and JK Rowling; what the world needs is the only you there is. Enter competitions as well as sending submissions to good journals. Get yourself a copy of The Writer’s and Artist’s Yearbook to find a comprehensive list of where to send your work. Read those journals too. In fact, never stop reading. Go to spoken word and open mic nights; we’re all (usually) drunk and all (forever) supportive so take a deep breath and get up there. The feedback can be invaluable. Form writing groups. Give honest and constructive feedback and receive it graciously. EDIT. And don’t reward yourself with a cat video for writing the title of a poem; do it at the end. I don’t care if it’s fluffy and eating a strawberry ice cream.

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

I tried to do more fiction at the start of the year, so I have a terrible novella I need to look at again but can’t bear to. It’s like tugging a plaster off a disgusting wound to see how bad it is underneath. I also have a comedy novel in the works, but at the moment that’s on the back burner while I finish my second poetry manuscript. It’s about 75% done – it’s something different to the last and I’m excited about it. I’m also collaborating with writers and artists on various poetry and arts projects, so watch this space!

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Patrick Chapman

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.

Open Season On The Moon

PATRICK CHAPMAN

is an Irish poet. His latest collection is Open Season on the Moon, published by Salmon. He has published seven previous poetry collections since 1991, as well as a novel and three volumes of stories. His other work includes a short film, television for children, and audio dramas for Doctor Who and Dan Dare. He produced B7’s dramatisation of Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles for BBC Radio 4. With Dimitra Xidous he edits The Pickled Body.

Link to Open Season on the Moon at Salmon Poetry:

https://www.salmonpoetry.com/details.php?ID=486&a=93

Link to Anhedonia at BlazeVOX Books:

http://www.blazevox.org/index.php/Shop/fiction/anhedonia-by-patrick-chapman-526/

The Interview

1. What inspired you to write poetry?

The facile answer is that I started writing poetry because I thought it would take less time than fiction. Also, I was attracted to poetry in school. Kubla Khan made me dream. The fact that it was interrupted, gave it the quality of a fragment from some widescreen adventure. A poem was a window into a larger world. Shelly’s withered statue in the desert, too. That one felt like a movie.

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

Poetry was on the school curriculum of course, but our teacher went off-piste to teach us basic form – metre, rhyming, types of sonnet. As well as introducing the poems of Dylan Thomas, Yeats, Kinsella, Dickinson, per the schedule, he read to us The Ballad of Reading Gaol simply because he thought we should hear it. When I asked him why Oscar had been imprisoned, he replied “tax reasons”. In the quasi-theocratic Ireland of the day, some things were more unspeakable than others, not to mention illegal. That teacher also read us Edmund’s ‘bastards’ speech, which had been excised from our texts of King Lear. A few years later at Eavan Boland’s workshop in Dublin, I discovered Life Studies. That was a turning point.

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

Not at all. I never wanted to be the next Kavanagh, as that job had been taken. Besides, it didn’t seem to be the thing to try and work in anyone’s shadow. Neil Jordan, when he published Night in Tunisia, was asked how he avoided the influence of Joyce. His reply that he’d “never read him” is a legitimate response, even if it sounds like Jordan was kidding. There’s everything to be learned from what has gone before but growing your own voice is what matters.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

I don’t have a daily writing routine. Poetry happens when it happens. That can mean slipping away for a moment to note some new thought, or it might mean stealing hours from a perfectly good afternoon, especially when there’s a book on the go. In olden times, I used to compose for days on end; I’d write until I dropped. Nowadays that sort of epic self-harm is neither possible nor polite.

5. What motivates you to write?

Anxiety plus an idea. That usually does it. Even without an idea, when the urge to write comes, I get tense if I don’t act on it. At the moment, after this last book, my poetry has entered a latency period. If I never write another poem, that would be fine. If I do, I hope it will be fine.

6. What is your work ethic?

My work ethic is to write when I’m writing but not to bang my head against a wall, so to speak, if a poem is frustrating me. Martin Amis’s advice seems good: walk away if a piece is not working, come back to it later. When you return, your subconscious will probably have solved the problem. To me, every poem I receive is a windfall for which I’m grateful; at its best the process is playful and possessive of my consciousness. When I’m working, it seems that the trick is to chisel away at the letters until all that’s left is a poem. The other trick is to know when that has happened.

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

Early influences that still resonate: J. G. Ballard gave me an outsider’s perspective on humanity. Douglas Adams taught me the value of absurdity. Bishop, Moore and Lowell showed how poetry could be personal as well as political. Eavan Boland revealed the domestic and the intimate as proper subjects for poems. E. E. Cummings opened my thinking on messing about with form and flow. Rilke, in Stephen Mitchell’s translation, has stayed with me. To anyone starting out, I’d recommend his Letters to a Young Poet.

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

Aside from those with whom I’ve worked, or who have reviewed my stuff… I admire Bret Easton Ellis for American Psycho. What a book, hilarious and still relevant. Iain Banks’s The Wasp Factory and The Bridge are favourites. Julian Barnes I admire for his non-fiction as much as his novels. Levels of Life is humane and beautifully written. Doireann Ní Ghríofa is an outstanding poet in Ireland. Her collection, Clasp, is recommended. I enjoyed Tara Bergin’s This is Yarrow. Kate Clanchy’s Newborn is raw and powerful.

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

It seems to have always been with me.

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

Remember the Field of Dreams principle. “If you build it…” My main advice would be to show up, give yourself permission to write, and know that early drafts are supposed to be bad. Perfection is a mirage. Messy is good. Consider how a cake is made versus how it is served. Look up John Cleese’s theory of the ‘open’ and ‘closed’ mode. Find where the words are and be there. Woolf’s ‘money and a room of one’s own’ would be ideal but not everyone has that luxury, so do what you can to get time, space and energy to write. Your library is your friend. In an ideal world, a writing space can be like a Quaker meeting for one.

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

Late last year BlazeVOX published my collection of stories, Anhedonia. That was the original title for Annie Hall. My new poetry collection, Open Season on the Moon, is just out from Salmon. It skates into the arena of concrete but is very readable. It’s about love and pornography (the old stuff); space travel and death; religion and politics. All the subjects you shouldn’t bring up in company unless you have a napkin to hand.

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Juliette van der Molen

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.

Anatomy-of-a-Dress-Cover-Art

Juliette Van Der Molen

Juliette van der Molen is a writer and poet living in the Greater NYC area. She is an intersectional feminist and a member of the LGBTQIA community.

She is the poetry editor for Mookychick Magazine. Her books include: Death Library: The Exquisite Corpse Collection and Mother, May I?.

Her poem Mother, May I? is a nominee for the Pushcart Prize

Her work has also appeared in Burning House Press, Kissing Dynamite, Memoir Mixtapes, Collective Unrest and several other publications.

Forthcoming books include: Anatomy of A Dress (The Hedgehog Poetry Press, December 2019) and Little Ordinary Things (Publisher TBA, February 2020).

You can connect with her on Twitter via @j_vandermolen.

The Interview

1. What inspired you to write poetry?

The subjects that I write about are inspired from my experiences as a survivor of trauma and as a woman in a male dominated society.

I want other people experiencing trauma to know that there is hope on the other side of it and that it is possible to navigate a better life. It’s not easy and my poetry reflects that, but I think the more survivors we have telling their stories the benefit is two-fold. One, we bring even more awareness to things like sexual assault and domestic abuse and call for action to combat them. Two, we create a community where others can join together to find strength and solidarity as they work to escape bad situations or build a new future.

As a woman disenfranchised beneath a patriarchal society I feel it is important to lift my voice in dissent. As an intersectional feminist, I realize that women have layers of struggles that are more complex. These layers can include class, race, sexuality and many other complications. I feel that I have been given privileges due to my access to education and the colour of my skin. These privileges should not entitle me to preferential treatment, but in the world as it exists today, they do. It is my responsibility to use those privileges in a way that can lift others up and demand change. I seek to do that for women in my poetry.

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

At the risk of sounding completely silly, I will say my grandmother. She introduced me to the idea that words could be music through my very first book of nursery rhymes. She was a patron of the arts and really expanded my horizons at a young age. I’ve read poetry off and on throughout my life, but always considered myself a prose writer. I thought poetry was for ‘other people’ and struggled to understand a lot of it for a long time. Poetry felt inaccessible to me and it has only been since I have been brave enough to deconstruct my prose and develop it into poetry that I have come to understand that poetry is vital to my self-expression.

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

I don’t think about this dominating presence much. They exist and I have a respect for the work that has come before me. I also recognize that outside of the classical poetry canon there are many under-represented poets that deserve recognition. I look to the past to understand context and craft as it was created during the space and time of that particular poet. I look to my contemporaries and poets younger than myself to help me understand the possibilities of where poetry can go and how it can impact our society through unique expression.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

This is the part where I’m supposed to tell you that I write every day, right? That’s not the case for me, at all. I write a lot. I scribble down words in a notebook that I carry with me when I ‘feel it’. When I have the energy and the time I sit down at my desk and I dedicate time to writing. I’ve spent my entire adult life, since I was 18, raising children and working to make ends meet. I haven’t been able to devote myself as I would have liked during that time. Some of that has to do with circumstance and some to do with my own self-confidence as a writer, but that is changing.

This fall, I am giving up my career, now that my kids are finished with college and digging in as a writer. This is my time and I’m excited for that. I’m certain that some kind of routine will develop for me, but what I never want is to have a routine that cages me in and creates an atmosphere where I can only write or create under certain conditions. Writing has become like breathing for me now. It seems to happen even without me realizing it at times.

5. What motivates you to write?

My experiences and the world around me motivate me to write. I think it’s important that we have art for current and future generations so they can understand the times that we live in and how we feel about issues. The art we make now will become history and we can either choose to be part of that conversation or be silent. My way of participating is to write poetry.

I’m also motivated because I believe that I have a responsibility to help re-write narratives for women. Sometimes this means taking a critical look at what has come before me and questioning it or stating why I’m not okay with it. Sometimes it means making a statement about the world I would like to live in or see in the future. Today’s social issues and my response to them will be part of the future that I and others live in, so I’m constantly motivated to be part of that forward motion.

6. What is your work ethic?

I do what I have to do to get things done. And while I can be competitive (usually with myself) and put my nose to the grindstone, I also take more care now than ever to aim for a balanced life. That means taking time for self care. But, in the case of writing I’m always working in one way or another. It’s impossible for me to still my mind completely and I don’t mind that. One day I’ll learn to meditate, then we’ll see how things change.

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

I read a lot of men growing up. Everything from Shakespeare to Faulkner to Hemingway and in between. They influenced me tremendously, as far as shaping my writing. I was introduced to female writers but mostly as an aside. The experience of my education focused on a male canon of writers influences me today because I have the confidence and life experience to question why that was the best way to learn. I go back and read again the things that I considered great literature as a young woman and I look for the small messages that exist through the construction of male language. I look for why those things bother me and how I want to change old stereotypes and expectations.

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

This is a tough one, there’s so much great writing out there, but I’m convinced a lot of it we never see. There are still so many people with incredible voices and stories to tell that will change the face of the future that don’t have access or the platform they need.

That being said, I’m a huge fan of Kai Naima Williams (He Tried to Drown The Ocean, I Waved) and Carla Cherry (These Pearls Are Real). These women are absolute forces with their powerful voices. They write unflinching poetry that uncovers layers of struggle wrapped in the psyche of women who are disenfranchised and demanding a voice. I couldn’t ever write from their perspective and they do me a service by putting their words out in the world so I can learn about the struggles of others.

Ask me tomorrow, and I’ll give you two more writers. This is the way it goes for me. I’m constantly discovering and re-reading authors I find powerful.

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

Wait. There are other options? Honestly, I didn’t write for almost seven years of my adult life and I completely lost myself. This is the best and most honest way I have of expressing and connecting to myself. Without that, I’m only a shadow self.

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

Just write. There’s no ‘becoming’. You’re doing it or you’re not doing it. I cringe when I see people calling themselves aspiring writers. I don’t think they give themselves credits. If you want to be a writer— you have to write. That’s all you have to do.

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

I’m launching a poetry pamphlet in the UK this December with The Hedgehog Poetry Press called “Anatomy of A Dress”. I’m actually going on tour in the north of England starting in November with this book and I couldn’t be more excited. This book challenges a lot of pre-conceived notions about how women dress and what that all means in society.

As far as what I’m currently writing, I have a few manuscripts in progress. “Confess” is about the youngest accused witch involved in the Salem Witch Trials, Dorothy Good. I’m really working to tell a story with this poetry and connect an overarching narrative throughout the book in the vein of what I’ve done with prose. Instead of the poems all being themed around Dorothy and her event, I want to take the reader on a journey through her life from beginning to end. There’s a lot of conjecture, since there isn’t a lot of information to go on in historical records, but I keep digging.

I’m also writing a currently untitled poetry collection about the Swedish artist Hilma af Klint, which involves a lot of research and travel. I’ll be spending some time in Stockholm, which is where she spent most of her life, to try and forge a deeper connection with the poetry. She fascinates me in that she predated Mondriaan and Kandinsky and only now is beginning to emerge as one of the forerunners of abstraction so many years after her death. She was an intense figure and deeply devoted to her spiritual practice of art. Writing this book is a way of honouring her and I look forward to continuing the process.

Finally, I’m at work on my poetry collection called “Patriarchy for Sale”, which is just pretty much what it sounds like. I’m a feminist and I’m mad as hell. I am willing to sell off the patriarchy to the highest bidder, though I doubt anyone wants it. These poems are heavily influenced by current politics, historical struggles and the false idea that we’ve come so far there is no need for feminism. Every day I see evidence that women need to fight for their place in this world and I will continue to do that for myself and on behalf of those who cannot.