Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Kerry Darbishire

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.

Kerry Darbishire

songwriter and poet grew up in the Lake District where she continues to live and write in a remote area of Cumbria. Her poems have appeared in many anthologies and magazines and have won competition prizes including shortlist Bridport 2017. Her first full poetry collection, A Lift of Wings 2014. Her second collection, Distance Sweet on my Tongue 2018, both with Indigo Dreams Publishing. A biography, Kay’s Ark published 2016 by Handstand Press. Kerry is a co-editor of the new Cumbrian poetry anthology, This Place I know 2019 – Handstand Press. She is a member of The Brewery Poets, Write on the Farm and Dove Cottage Poets.

Follow her on Twitter: @kerrydarbishire

Find her two poetry collections: A Lift of Wings and Distance Sweet on my Tongue


Find her biography: Kay’s Ark


Future talks/readings up to date:

Manchester Central Library – Vaster than Empires, Grey Hen Press – October 26th

Kendal Mountain Festival: Further Than it Looks, Grey Hen Press November 16th

Both 2019


Settle Sessions – November 15th 2019


Dentdale WI – biography/memoir, Kay’s Ark – April 20th 2020

Garsdale Retreat – October 7th 2020


The Interview

When and why did you start writing poetry?

I’ve always written songs or poetry, but only began writing poetry seriously through the grief of my mother’s death in 2005. I attended a local workshop which eventually lead to my first collection, A Lift of Wings (Indigo Dreams Publishing) in 2014, a biography, the story of my mother’s life, Kay’s Ark in 2016 (Handstand Press) then a second poetry collection: Distance Sweet on my Tongue (IDP) in 2018. I’ve always found inspiration in people and landscape present and past.

Who introduced you to poetry?

I don’t have a definite introducer of poetry, I wasn’t very attentive at school and learned more at home amongst books, art, verse and music – they were my childhood companions, our house was always full of musicians, artists and writers so I guess my home environment introduced me to poetry. The real turning point was when I was mentored by the poet in residence Judy Brown at the Wordsworth Trust in 2013. It was like being given the right fuel for this journey

How aware are and were you of the dominating presence of older poets traditional and contemporary?

I became aware of the Lakeland poets – Wordsworth, Coleridge, and others: Yeats, Frost, Thomas Hardy etc. briefly at school and writers like the vagabond Jim Phelan who often stayed in our house, but at the time I never thought I was absorbing or being influenced by them.

What is your daily writing routine?

I like to write in the mornings after I’ve walked my dogs, but I can spend a whole day working on poems, to the extent I forget the time. Then again, if I get an urgent idea in the evening, I’ll go back into my room until I’ve made some sense of it

What motivates you to write?

If I’m suddenly grabbed by something I’ve heard or seen about people’s lives. I love responding to art works. Music can often also trigger a memory, a time or a place. Reading beautiful writing also inspires me.

What is your work ethic?

I don’t write about politics, religion or conflict of any kind as I find this too upsetting. I’m very involved with my wild surroundings, this ever-changing beautiful landscape and the River Brathay I grew up alongside and mostly up to my neck every day finding fossils and fish. If readers of my work find my poetry uplifting, then I’ve done something good

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

It’s hard to know how much sunk in and remained from reading as a child. I loved simple books such as Lassie, Heidi, Black Beauty and nursery rhymes. I was very in love with Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. I married young and spent many years with little time to read but I guess everything I have ever read has affected my writing in some way.

Whom of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?

There are so many brilliant writers today, my bookshelf overflows with broad styles of poetry and it’s very difficult to choose a few, but ones that spring out particularly for their accessibility: Seamus Heaney, Dylan Thomas, Ted Hughes, and Sylvia Plath, for their rich conjuring of nature and transportation to other eras; Billy Collins, for his flowing voice, detail and humour; Jack Gilbert, Norman Nicholson and James Sheard for their memories and evocation of precious times. And even more modern poets: Helen Mort, Kim Moore, Judy Brown, Esther Morgan, Carola Luther, Ocean Vuong, and many more for their brave strong evocative voices.

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

Because I love it, because I have to – writing is my addiction, if I didn’t write I’d be lost and miserable.

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

I would say sit down and start writing, allow yourself time and let your pen flow freely. Surprising things can happen on the page, go wherever it takes you, let your imagination take flight, don’t worry about the initial quality, that comes later. Join writing workshops with accomplished tutors, either face to face or online, there are wonderful courses to be had on the Poetry School and other websites. And read, read, read, novels, poetry, ‘how to write’ books, listen to interviews with writers, there is always something more to learn. I never thought I would eventually be doing this, so, always carry a notebook, be brave and do it!

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

I’m building up another possible full poetry collection, I’ve got two pamphlets I’m considering sending out. I like the challenge of submitting to anthologies and poetry competitions. I’m loving this ‘new’ life, this supportive world of poets, reading at events, and enjoying writing as though I’m running out of time



One thought on “Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Kerry Darbishire

  1. Pingback: Celebrate Wombwell Rainbow Interviews with me over 26 Days. Today is Letter D. One letter a day displaying all the links to those interviews. We dig into those surnames. Discover their inspirations, how they write, how did they begin. Would you love to ha

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