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.
Jane Sharp has been called a surreal writer. She freely admits to inhabiting other worlds from time to time. When she is not writing she enjoys playing the piano and the cello. Her home is in Yorkshire where her roots run deep. She also has a passion for dark chocolate.
Jane’s Blog: https://www.janesharp.org
Higgs Bottom: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07WLVTQP6
- What inspired you to write poetry?
I began wanting to write verse as a young child, by entering competitions in the comic I took every week. I never won anything, but I was inspired by the fact that somebody did. Add imagination and a competitive spirit, plus a great deal of parental praise, and like a rosebud my passion for poetry began to blossom.
- Who introduced you to poetry?
Moving past the nursery rhymes of my childhood, I was first introduced to verse by the elders of the Methodist Chapel in Long Preston. As a part of the annual anniversary service I had to learn a few lines to recite along with other children of the Sunday school. At junior school I moved through the nonsense poetry of Edward Lear, The Owl and The Pussycat, A. A. Milne ‘Where the Wind Comes From… ‘ etc into the realms of Walter de la Mare, and I found myself in the throws of GCSE exams, being taught by a young, just out of college teacher, Mr Jackson, who, in his first teaching position, turned up at school with a Beatle haircut and a snazzy jacket. I thought he was the ‘bees knees,’ and consequently went all out to impress him. He encouraged me to let my imagination go wild, and seemed to appreciate my efforts at story telling and writing poetry. I even wrote a play, ‘Oedipus,’ which I have kept to this day. I would say, he was the one person who cultivated the opening rosebud with his enthusiasm for literature, and his praise of my immature efforts.
- How aware were you of the dominating presence of older poets?
By older poets, I take you to mean poets of past times, such as Wordsworth, Keats, Byron, etc. Having a general education, I was introduced to these poets at an early age. I still have my copy of The Golden Treasury, from my school days. As far as being aware of their dominance, I did not think of them in that way. I did not have a choice in the matter and was simply fed whatever the curriculum deemed appropriate. Fast forward to the present day, and I am happy to have been introduced to those heavyweights, just as I am happy to have been able to study the works of the war poets, and in more recent times, Ted Hughes, Sylvia Plath, Matthew Sweeney, Yevgeny Yevtushenko, and so many more excellent poets.
- What is your daily writing routine?
The words, ‘daily routine,’ imply that I do something at the same time every day. For me, writing poetry is not like that. I sometimes wake up with a poem in my head, or at least a couple of lines, in which case I jot it down straight away. I always have a pen and notebook on my bedside table. I have been known to catch a line or two whilst swinging the vacuum around, or pegging the washing on the line, or even whilst waiting for a bus, but there is no daily routine. I do, however, make sure that I read at least one poem every day, and this can be first thing in the morning, or last thing at night. Of course the novel writing is more like a nine to five job when it is in full swing.
When I am in writing mode I can sit and work on a poem for days until it is finished, and even then come back to it a week later and make revisions, and that might not be the end of it. Unless I have a deadline there can be constant additions or subtractions before I am satisfied with the result. But generally I will have a sound outline in one or two days.
- What motivates you to write?
Motivation: that great, unseen push. Well, it isn’t money, that’s for sure. I write because I want to write, because I have all these words spilling out of my head that are just looking for a home. They want to manifest, they need a physical form; they are ideas, which need to be spoken out loud, stories that don’t want to sit in the void, and characters that are banging on my skull to let them out.
Of course, deadlines for magazines, spoken word events, poetry society meetings, are all great motivators, and they bring focus and an intellectual approach to my writing. Being given a subject to write about is never as easy as going with the flow, but it is possible to stoke up passion for the unlikeliest of themes, such as ‘warts’ for instance, the subject of one of my poems.
- What is your work ethic?
‘Just do it!’ I can be as lazy as the next person, but I know that if I don’t get off my backside and do something, it doesn’t get done. There is a time for work, and a time for play, but there is no ‘set’ time for either.
- How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?
A perfect example of this is when I began to write my latest novel, Higgs Bottom. The main character is a 13-year-old schoolboy. I had in mind Jim Hawkins from Treasure Island, and I did my best to channel him. It didn’t work. The way a schoolboy of today speaks is far removed from the way a young cabin boy would have spoken in 1756. Yet the idea of a first person narration did come from my childhood memories of Treasure Island. My reading of Alice in Wonderland has influenced my writing greatly; I take the philosophical ideas, and the bizarre imagery from such books.
- Who of today’s writers do you admire the most, and why?
I have long admired the accessibility of poems written by Simon Armitage. His use of form is a joy, and his vocabulary hits the spot. He can be humorous whilst at the same time very serious. And, of course, he is from Yorkshire, and like all good Yorkshire people I support members of the clan, so to speak.
I also like the poetry of Isabel Bermudez, who I think is a rising star. I find her poems to be soothing, and thought provoking, and full of imagery.
- Why do you write as opposed to doing something else?
Well, I do have many other things to do, such as practicing my cello, or the piano, or even reading, in fact I would say that reading is just as important to me as writing. And I have to make time to do all of these things. But I’m not the sporty type, I can’t sew, I avoid baking because that would mean I would have to eat too many cakes and biscuits, my grandchildren are grown up, therefore there is no babysitting, and I am retired from work, and, and this is a big and, I enjoy writing. I enjoy creating a poem, or a story, and what’s more I enjoy performing and making people feel emotion, whether it be laughter or tears.
- What would you say to someone who asked you “how do you become a writer?”
This is an easy one. How do you become a writer? You write: you write every day. You write down what you hear people say, you write down what you see, you write down what you smell, and you write down what you feel. And then you write down what you think.
- Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.
I have just wrapped up my second novel, Higgs Bottom. It is now available on Amazon as a Kindle download, or as a paperback book. It has taken me several years to complete, and I am very proud of the finished work. Higgs Bottom is my second novel, the first being Tears from the Sun – A Cretan Journey. So, now I have to announce to the world that their copy is just sitting there waiting for them to snap up. It is a book for all ages, and here is a spoiler – Higgs Bottom is a place, not a bottom. I hope to write a follow up to Higgs Bottom, but I have a work in progress, which may take precedence.
I have also been working very diligently on a poetry collection, which is now complete and should be published before October is out. I have called it Scary Woman – A poet in Barnsley, and it is an eclectic mix of personal, serious, erotic and humorous poetry. I have to add that my husband, David, is such a great help in all my endeavours.