Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Laura McKee

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.


Laura McKee

started writing by mistake. Her poems can be found on postcards to friends, a patio when it rains, once on a bus, and in various poetry journals in print and online: Crannog, Pouch, Obsessed With Pipework, The Rialto, And Other Poems, Frogmore Papers, Poetry Salzburg Review, Molly Bloom, Butcher’s Dog, The Interpreter’s House, Prole. Also in anthologies including Mildly Erotic Verse (Emma Press) and forthcoming in The Result is What You See Today (Smith Doorstop). She was a winner in the Guernsey International Poetry Competition, shortlisted for three years running in the Bridport Prize, and nominated for Best Single Poem in the Forward Prizes.

Twitter:@Estlinin https://twitter.com/Estlinin
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pretendpoet1/?hl=en

The Interview

1. What inspired you  to write poetry?

In my forties I started listening to The Verb on Radio 3 and hearing poets read and perform their work seemed to bring it to life for me; particularly a performance by the poet, Ira Lightman, because I loved it and wanted to understand. In time I learned you can get a lot from a poem without demanding that it explains itself.

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

My mum had heard her dad, a bus conductor, recite poems, and she would recite bits to me. My Dad showed me poems by Spike Milligan, Hilaire Belloc, Tennyson. I went to a Secondary Modern school and didn’t have any formal education in poetry.

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

I think this has been changing for some time now. My feeling is we can learn from each other, I hate cliques of any kind.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

I’m not a prolific writer, and I don’t have a daily writing routine as such. I do read poetry every day. I always use my notes app on my phone to record ideas while I’m out and about. Then one day I’ll think of something that ties perhaps two ideas together, then that’s the beginnings of a poem. Either that or an idea seems to spring almost fully formed and the poem flows all at once, I love those moments. Strange fact: that’s happened a couple of times when I’ve been on antibiotics.

5. What motivates you to write?

Antibiotics apparently. Otherwise, to express myself in a way I find difficult sometimes in everyday speech, to communicate, and to calm myself the hecking heck down.

6. What is your work ethic?

Always wear a bowler hat.

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

From Milligan and Belloc I learned that I can use humour in poetry. From Tennyson and rap and hip hop artists I have a pretty good ear for the rhythm, pace, and musicality of a poem.

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

Those who are resolutely themselves, and so bring something of themselves to poetry, and are also geniuses, eg. Carole Bromley, Briony Littlefair, Ali Whitelock, Mark Waldron, Hannah Lowe, Denise Riley.

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

Perhaps to leave something else behind to embarrass the children. When I started to write, I was pushing a pushchair, the poem arrived in my head as an escape I think. It feels like something I have to do now, so lord knows how I didn’t for so long, though my friends say I always wrote good letters and postcards.

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

Read widely, and listen, first. Keep doing that actually, it will inspire you to find your own words.

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

I have a poem due in an anthology of poems on running, ‘The Result is What you See Today’, from Smith Doorstop. I have applied to do an MA in Writing Poetry, and will also need a scholarship award to afford the fees. I should hear before the end of this month, so, wish me luck!

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