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.
1. What inspired you to write poetry?
I started writing poetry after a particularly troubling time in my life. I was working as a chef and had what the doctor called a ‘not insignificant nervous breakdown’ so had to stop working. Until that point I can honestly say, other than at school, I had never read or been interested in poetry at all. But I had a lot of spare time after I finished work and decided to write haiku as I had heard from somewhere or other that the practise was very calming. I guess that’s where the addiction started.
2. Who introduced you to poetry?
Myself I suppose. The first poet I properly fell for was Basho and his wonderful haiku. So much can be said in just three lines. For me, that is mastery of the craft. From there I picked up some of Kerouac’s books of poetry, then fell in to the Beats – Ginsberg, Burroughs etc. Nothing too in depth, I was just dabbling.
3. How aware were you of the dominating presence of older poets?
Massively aware since that was what I was reading. It is only once you scratch the surface that you realise that the majority of the quality work that is produced is coming from the younger poets. At school you only ever learn about the old white guys, maybe a bit of Maya Angelou. But poetry is so much more isn’t it?
4. What is your daily writing routine?
Honestly, I don’t have one. I can go days and weeks without writing. But then I get this feeling in my throat and my stomach and it’s telling me I need to write. That I need to create something. So I do. I have a huge, fantastic imagination and a lot of my poems are vignettes, little scenes that I have dreamt up and stories that I feel need to be told. I open Word Online, write it down and that’s it. I NEVER edit my work (unless it is a commission) so once something is out its out. I tend to post most of my work on Twitter and don’t submit much to places anymore. I used to but I realised I was looking for validation from people through submitting work. I think even if your work is good the acceptance rate is pretty low, so it can be disheartening for a lot of writers. But in reality, you are trying to get 5000 poems down to 50 and people are going to miss the cut.
5. What motivates you to write?
Because I have to. That’s the short answer. I have an awful lot inside me and if you have a lot of things turning around your mind and don’t have anywhere to put them, they can pickle and turn bad. That’s why poetry is so important.
I also love it when someone connects with my words. It’s like a neural-link. I think any poet who says they aren’t interested in validation is lying. We crave acceptance and love, especially from fellow writers. I am not going to sit here and tell you otherwise. I’m like a sponge. A good comment can see me through a bad day. And that’s why I write.
6. What is your work ethic?
Poor! I read a lot of poetry but I write very little compared to a few years back. I was churning out one or two pieces a day back then whereas now it’s one or two a month. But I feel like the quality is there with my work now. Or at least, its somewhere near where I would like it to be. I have struck a decent balance I think although I do procrastinate like an absolute champion.
7. How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?
They don’t! Because the only thing I ever read when I was young was the Doctor Who novels and as far as I know they haven’t influenced me at all. I am not a massively academic person and I only really fell for poetry/literature in general in the last few years. I got a good degree and qualifications etc but they were not to do with english/the classics/poetry. Sometimes when I sit in on a conversation and people are being overtly academic I get a bit bored to be honest. I am all about passion and grit, not what some dead guy wrote about orchards.
8. Who of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?
Andrew McMillan is my favourite living poet. He deals with some really stark issues but writes beautifully and his poetry never fails to engage with me. But I read endless poetry now and so much of it is of a good quality. I don’t think poetry has ever been in a stronger position in terms of standards. That’s a lot to do with the internet I think which has allowed writers who would otherwise not stand a chance of being read to get their work out there.
9. Why do you write, as opposed to doing anything else?
I think words are the perfect medium. You can paint with words, sculpt with words, make music with words. I want people to understand what is going on in my head and while a painting or a song could tell them half of the story, words can tell the whole sordid tale.
10. What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”
Write something! Honestly, I don’t subscribe to this ‘everyone is a poet’ aesthetic. It’s hard work to create something that is good enough to be classed as poetry. But if you start writing things then you are a writer. Then I would say read. You CANNOT possibly create good art if you don’t indulge in the art that surrounds you.
11. Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.
I have just finished recording a poetry podcast called ‘Bedtime Stories for the End of the World’ where I was asked to update a piece of ancient folklore and adapt it to the modern world.
My second book ‘Become Something Frail’ has just been reprinted as we sold out so that is wonderful. I am working on a third book but I also create visual art so some of my time is spent designing book covers etc for other people.
I sound busy but don’t worry I mainly spend my days on Twitter @stuartmbuck or playing pointless games.