Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Michael Pettinger

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews

am honoured and privileged that the following poets, 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.


Michael Pettinger

The Interview

1. What were the circumstances under which you began to write poetry?

I’d written rants to post on Facebook but never thought of using them as poetry.
I’d gone to a meeting at Mexborough Resource Centre to get involved with a local short film around 2014.

There I met Paul Dyson, who advised me there was an open mic night at the Concertina Club across the road and that I could just listen if I wanted, but if I felt comfortable, I could say my rants.

After visiting the first “Pitman’s Poets” hosted by Tony Goodwin and being allowed up to say my rants it helped inspire me in to writing in different styles similar to the ones I’d heard at the Pitman’s as there were some brilliant poets.

I also attended Read To Write with Ian Parks and Write On Mexborough with Steve Ely which helped develop my story writing and poetry.

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

I would have to say Tony Goodwin’s “Pitman’s Poets” as everybody that attended wrote (+ spoke) what I describe/define as “local poetry”.

I’d heard academic poetry and other famous poetry at school but never understood it so it had no meaning to me and therefore no interest to me.

You could say school introduced maybe one poem to me but at the time I didn’t care to know any more about poetry.

I would say that the poets at Pitman’s introduced me to poetry because when they shared their poetry it was always a topic I could connect with or I could associate with in some way. I’ve always preferred local poetry.

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

Not even slightly aware of how far back poetry went or any of the poets from older, even ancient times.
Even today people tell me famous poets names and I haven’t a clue who they are.
Except maybe Ted Hughes (because he lived in Mexborough), Dylan Thomas, Cavafy, Keats or Yates (just because they are mentioned a lot).
So for me they haven’t got a dominating presence. At least not in my life.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

I don’t write daily.

I write sporadically when a line comes in to my head or a feeling which I need to write down on my phone.
Then when I get time and I think about the line again or the feeling I’ll sit at the laptop and write (+ edit) a poem out on “Notepad” (the computer program) which I’ll read through and edit as I see fit.

It usually takes me around an hour (depending on the length) and I just keep reading it until I feel it sounds correct when being said.

5. What motivates you to write?

When I see something that I don’t like about the world it makes me angry, which inspires the rants.
When I feel low, I put my pain in to the poem in a kind of cathartic way, so that people can understand the pain I feel for the moment that they hear it.
The same when I’m blissfully happy and I can get down on paper the happiness and try to make it so that when someone hears it they feel the same internally for a moment.

6. What is your work ethic?

I believe that no one chose to be born in to a world of competition, corruption, war, inequality, poverty, climate change and greed.

If we had the free will to choose, I can almost guarantee that no one would choose to join the world unless they were guaranteed wealthy parents.

It is through the sexual drive of parents that children are forced in to the world to live lives they might not want to live due to the suffering and social issues the world is full of. The violence that inequality drives, the behaviours that are caused by poverty and having such poor education systems is beyond traumatic.

How bad must your life be if the only way to escape it is to take spice or heroin and soil yourself in public?!

I believe that if someone wants to leave this world, has had the mental health assessments and can’t afford to survive then they should be allowed a dignified death with the chance to say goodbye to their family and friends and explain why – usually because they can’t afford to survive and/or have so much turmoil in their lives.

So my work ethic is; If work is not monotonous, if work is not repetitive, if work stimulates your brain, if work means you are directly helping the environment, helping someone or the rest of humanity to become healthier, safer, more technologically advanced, then do as much of the work as you can without hindering your emotions and becoming too tired/over-worked.

The rest of the work should be done by automation and a lot of jobs out there are useless to the benefit of humanity or the environment. It’s usually just there to make the rich richer and the poor poorer.

I am against capitalism (though the best system we have to date, it is failing clearly) and I learn about a “resource based economy” as envisioned by “The Venus Project”
( http://www.thevenusproject.com )
7. How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?
I only read children’s stories at school, I didn’t read any poems I can remember.
I would say the stories I read (I can only remember reading “The BFG” and “The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe”) helped with my imagination.

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

Gav Roberts from Rotherham.
I’ve not got any of his work in writing but as a poet he is brilliant.
He says everything in terms everybody can understand, there are no codes to break down and his poems hit everything from happiness and sorrow to peace and humour.

9. Why do you write?

I write because it’s something I’m not absolutely terrible at.
I have written plenty of poems that aren’t what I would describe as good or a decent standard but sometimes when I write something and I can see people like it, it makes me feel like I’m not worthless.
Like I have something to give to the world other than my labour.
I also like the idea that I can take words and put them in a combination that hasn’t been used before to present a topic in a different way.

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

Write down your feelings, write down characters and places. The things you like and don’t like. Write about truth, write fiction but most of all listen or read other people’s poetry, stories or scripts. Go to open mic nights and listen to the variety of individuals and the massive amount of different ways to tell one thing.
Have fun. Don’t do it as work or for money or at least not for your main supply of money.

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

I’m currently writing scripts for some sketches I hope to film and put on YouTube.
I’m not really writing much else at the moment.

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