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.
lives in Wales. He has been published in various places across the United Kingdom and the United States. He is part of the Shrewsbury Stanza group and ventures to many events around the Welsh/Shropshire border.
His first poetry collection is called “The Miner” and can be bought from his website http://www.gculshaw.co.uk/
His second poetry collection will be out in 2020. Again, by Futurecycle. The collection is called Shadows of Tryfan.
Twitter – https://twitter.com/CulshawPoetry
YouTube Channel – Gareth Culshaw Poetry
1. When and why did you start writing poetry?
I wrote my first poem way back in 2002. For years I wrote rhymed poetry and songs. The reason I started to write them was Oasis. Noel Gallagher’s songs, especially his b-sides, had an amazing effect on my life. I was 22, not sure what to do with my life and a bit lost. Typical young male. So I used to sit and read his lyrics from the CD album inlets. That’s when I decided to have a go and wrote a rhymed poem. A-B-A-B format, three stanzas, four lines. It was a revelation.
1.1 Why was it a revelation?
When I finished the poem, I felt a surge of energy. Similar to climbing a mountain and you see the world below. I knew right then I had found my place as a human. Unfortunately, it was many years before I settled down. A young male has other things on his mind than writing poetry, and I had no knowledge or like minded people to speak to. I wasn’t mature enough to settle into a routine. It was a good decade, 2011, when I started to take it seriously. But by then, I was in a relationship. I had moved on from being one of the lads. Back then, I used to write poems on notepads, never redrafted, just loved the enjoyment of poetry. Though none of them were any good! There was a simmering passion inside.
2. Who introduced you to rhymed poetry?
For some reason it felt like the thing to do at the time. I had never read poetry, except the stuff from school. So something must have clamped itself onto my brain at some point. And hung there until I needed it. Turning to free-verse was far harder! I really did struggle with it, and never thought I would see the mechanics of the form. The first poets I read were the Romantics. So rhymed poetry was stayer for years.
3. How aware are and were you of the dominating presence of older poets traditional and contemporary?
At the time, traditional poets were more known to me. Obviously, Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Dylan Thomas, Byron, and Blake. The first poets I read were Byron, Keats and Shelley. Contemporary poetry didn’t hit me for a couple of years. S.Heaney was the first ‘Living’ poet I read. But for some reason, I still went back to traditional poets. I bought their books first. Especially Keats, who had a big influence on me at that time. Seamus Heaney became the main poet after him as I wanted to learn contemporary poetry. But I struggled to understand his work. It seemed a million miles away from Keats.
4. What is your daily writing routine?
I believe a poet has four pillars to work off. Writing, Redrafting, Reading and Studying. I try to do two every day. Consistency is key. But also being very honest about your work. If it needs tearing up, you have to do it. Poetry is a way of life but writing is a job.
5. What motivates you to write?
I believe every person has something to give to the world. Poetry is what I live for. Work is something I have to do to pay bills, but poetry is what wakes me up. If school kids were encouraged to find themselves instead of finding a ‘Career’ then happiness would be more bountiful around the streets. If I had found poetry when I was ten my life would have been different. I feel very privileged to do it.
6. How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?
Apart from the nature aspect with some of them I don’t take too much from them now. Keats will always be a favourite, but my style has altered so much. But they gave me a start and I do thank them for that. I don’t believe you can read poetry without searching for Tennyson, Wordsworth or Coleridge. They are too important.
6.1 How has your style altered?
It is more condensed now. Also, I have a weakness for simile. I love them! Years ago I didn’t know much about metaphor and simile. Or even making sure every word deserves its place in the poem. Even the power of verbs and getting details into my work. I went to Ty Newydd in 2015 and had some comments about my metaphors/similes. It was a ‘light bulb’ moment. Today my natural instinct in poetry is the images. The hardest part is the rest! You’re only as strong as your weakest point.
7. Who of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?
Helen Mort. Her style suits my own in some ways. I hope there’s a day I can read alongside her, that would be unreal. Gillian Clarke is an immense poet. Her last collection was brilliant. Carol Ann Duffy is a Zen Master of poetry. Incredible lady, she has an aura about her. Michael Symmons Roberts has no waste in his work. Every word deserves its place, I don’t know how he does it!. I know some poets who have talent but maybe have not become nationally known, yet – Graham Attenborough, Julia Forster, Lynne Caddick, Helen Kay, Audrey Adern-Jones, Pat Edwards, Carol Caffrey – these guys are decent folk too. Jess Mookherjee, Miriam Darlington and Ken Evans might do something great one day. Forward Prize level. O! and there’s A.Oswald. WOW.
8. Why do you write, as opposed to doing anything else?
I write because I love it. I do go bird watching, walking, strength training but nothing gets me like writing. It’s amazing. I hope to leave a body of work that is worth searching through when I am long gone. I want to leave my life in a better place than where it started.
9. What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”
It’s 24/7. Someone said to me in Ty Newydd ‘You have to want it more than anything’ I didn’t realise how much at the time. Every word has to count. Read every day and find your character. If you have identity in your work, and you put your personality into it, then you are on your way. Success is measured by how many failures you are willing to go through. Some find their voice straight away, others, like me, take awhile.
10. Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.
I am currently doing an MFA at Manchester Met. So I am building a poetry collection on Anton Chekhov’s short stories. It may be crazy but you have to do something! I am also doing a form of poetry but 100 poems of it. I am on 46. I am not mentioning the form as people may think I’m crazy. Though it’s not Sistena! I am thinking of writing a book about five years we had living in a cottage. Some amazing things happened in there. My writing life took off in that place. In Manchester I have got to know a composer and we may do something with poetry and music. We have just done one piece and came second in The Rosamond Prize. A Manchester writing school and RNCM project for students.