Wombwell Rainbow Interviews
Kayleigh is a Creative Writing PhD Researcher at The University of Huddersfield and is an Editorial Assistant for Stand Magazine. She has been published in print and online, including Black Bough Poetry, Eye Flash Poetry and Riggwelter Press. She was commended in the Geoff Stevens Prize. Her debut pamphlet, Keepsake, is available through Maytree Press.
Twitter – @kayyyleighc
1. What inspired you to write poetry?
Typically I wrote prose growing up; I can’t recall actually writing poetry. But, one of my favourite childhood books is A Nest Full of Stars which is poems by James Berry. I love the cover art, I love the language, I love the structure of the poems. I remember not understanding them all, as I wasn’t used to poetry. Cut to second year of undergraduate when my creative writing lecturer Michael Stewart asked us to write some poetry. I immediately loved writing it and felt like it was the right genre for me. The majority of my creative writing class preferred prose, but I loved poetry. Then in third year I took Steve Ely’s (who is now my PhD supervisor) module on poetry and produced a small sequence of poems for my final project. I found that poetry worked best with my thoughts and feelings; I liked the freedom of it.
2. Who introduced you to poetry?
I bought A Nest Full of Stars from one of the book fairs in primary school, my first taste of poetry! But, Michael brought my attention properly to it and working with Steve really cemented my love for it. Since then, I’ve just immersed myself in the poetry world.
3. How aware were you of the dominating presence of older poets?
When I first started writing it, I guess I was in the university sphere and focused on my writing and the poets we studied – which were all part of the older generation but I didn’t think about it in depth. Now I’m a more established writer and part of the poetry/literary world, I’m very aware of the presence of older poets. This was made particularly apparent through my work with Stand Magazine. Many of the subscribers and contributors are of the older generation, as are the editors. Stand is a longstanding, reputable magazine and somewhat traditional, which explains the ties to the older generation.
4. What is your daily writing routine?
I suppose it would be incorrect to say I have a proper routine as such but, I guess I have fashioned one that works around my daughter Eliza’s routine. Throughout the day, If I have any ideas I will make a note of them and then when Eliza goes to sleep on an evening, I will sit and turn them into poems. This might not happen everyday of course, but I’m usually tinkering away on something. I like to write Haikus, so I try to write on of those at least weekly. When Eliza is in nursery and I have my own time, I have more dedicated period of writing. I typically do this at university or in some trendy cafe!
5. What motivates you to write?
It’s the feeling of working towards something creative and achieving something; I enjoy seeing a collection of poems emerge and then come together. During this time of PhD studies and early motherhood, writing poetry is important to me.
6. What is your work ethic?
I believe that it is not so black and white that if you work hard you will get what you want, but hard work and commitment is important. I’m organised with my studies and my writing, I work hard and keep going.
7. How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?
They inspire me to write things worth reading. I remember reading The Handmaid’s Tale in Sixth Form and thought it was amazing, just captivating and stayed with me after I’d finished. I enjoy Margaret Atwood’s poetry too; Atwood has inspired me to take risks with my writing.
8. Who of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?
I very much enjoy Charlotte Wetton’s work; her voice is amazing and I like the way she describes scenes and feelings. Other poets I like are Rebecca Tamas, Liz Berry, Julie Irigaray & Greg Gilbert. In terms of fiction my go to writer is Ian McEwan – I think his writing is clever and absolutely absorbing.
9. Why do you write, as opposed to doing anything else?
I think a lot of people have hobbies and things they are just ‘good’ at, my partner Joe for instance loves Pokemon! For me, it’s writing. It just gets me and I get it. I find it therapeutic; a creative way of writing a journal perhaps.
10. What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”
I would say that you don’t necessarily have to ‘become’ a writer, more that you just are! I would just advise them to write, write and write. Find the genre that suits them the most and work at it. That’s not to say you have to limit yourself to one genre forever, it’s just part of the process of becoming the best writer you can be. Also, have confidence in yourself. One thing I have learnt is that you just have to involve and promote yourself.
11. Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.
Well, my pamphlet Keepsake is taking centre stage currently! Keepsake is my debut pamphlet published by Maytree Press who have been lovely to work with. I have recently done a book signing at Huddersfield Waterstones and I’m reading at a Poetry Showcase, sponsored by the The International Centre for Contemporary Poetry, at The University of Huddersfield. Which brings me on to a big part of my life – my PhD. I’m on my way to finishing first year and recently passed my progression viva. The project is still under wraps at the moment – though it will involve monstrous women. And finally, I will be featuring in Butcher’s Dog Issue 12, so will be attending the launch of that!
12. Your collection is infused with “baby”, as in young people “cradling” and the hint of nursery rhymes “and they swam, and they swam.”
Yes, that’s one of the main themes, that’s a nice observation about the nursery rhyme!
13. Your poetry is very visceral.
Compared to my academic work, it’s very confessional and personal!
14. Would you say the narrator was you?
I would say most of the poems has me as the narrator, but some are more open to interpretation. One is narrated by a child (my daughter).
15. What appeals to you about confessional poetry?
I like the authenticity and poignancy of it. It’s about me, so writing it comes very naturally and it’s a very enjoyable process crafting the poems. It’s also therapeutic and reflective. I think readers like honesty, and to be surprised.
not including the ones that lingered under her skin.
(From He Touched Me Here)
At times the collection moves from horror images to suggestions of the sacred,
and the holy water came
Yes, interesting observation. I suppose it’s representing the trauma and dark times through the more horror orientated poems, whilst the suggestions of the sacred represent the transition towards healing. I’m not religious; I suppose the scared imagery is my own interpretation of those things.
17. Why do you think people should read your collection?
That’s a good question. I think other people’s lives fascinate us, and I think it’s good to hear the stories of others. Though this personal, confessional poetry I hope other mothers – or fathers – may read my collection and find comfort that their feelings are not in isolation. People hopefully will see the highs and lows of life; the anxious times, the happier times. They will see that you can heal after trauma. And they can read some contemporary, visceral poetry!