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.
has been a professional children’s poet since 1988.. To date he has over 200 books published including volumes of his own poetry such as Lost Magic: The Very Best of Brian Moses (Macmillan) and I Thought I Heard a Tree Sneeze (Troika), anthologies such as The Secret Lives of Teachers and Aliens Stole My Underpants (both Macmillan) and picture books such as Beetle in the Bathroom (Troika) and Trouble at the Dinosaur Cafe ( Pufﬁn). Over 1 million copies of Brian’s poetry books have now been sold by Macmillan. Brian also runs writing workshops and performs his own poetry and percussion shows. To date he has given over 3000 performances in schools, libraries, theatres and at festivals throughout the UK and abroad. He is also founder & co-director of a national scheme for able writers administered by his booking agency Authors Abroad. CBBC commissioned him to write a poem for the Queen’s 80th birthday and he was invited by Prince Charles to speak at his Cambridge University teachers’ day in 2007. His latest books include Spaced Out – an anthology of space poems (edited with James Carter and published by Bloomsbury) and two picture books Walking With My Iguana and Dragon’s Wood, both published by Troika.
1. What inspired you to write poetry?
I was drawn to poetry through my enjoyment of the lyrics of rock music, particularly singer/songwriters like Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and the Beatles. The poetry I was offered in school made little impression on me at the time and it wasn’t until I picked up a book of poems by Liverpool Poets – Adrian Henri, Roger McGough & Brian Patten, that I realised that poetry could be fun, that it could speak to me in a language that I understood and that it had relevance to my life as a teenager.
2. Who introduced you to poetry?
Think I’ve answered this in the above.
3. How aware were you of the dominating presence of older poets?
Very much aware. I read and read poetry by others once I started writing it myself and it was what spurred me on. I wrote terribly bad imitations of other poets to start with and then suddenly began to find my own voice.
4. What is your daily writing routine?
If I’m at home, I often start ‘writing’ when I’m on an early morning walk with my dog. I live in the country and we are out in the fields and the woods. She pursues her agenda with rabbits and pheasants while I chase words round and attempt to capture them on a voice recorder.
Coming home I then transfer anything that might be useful to notebook or computer.
Mornings are best for writing but I sometimes do some more between 5 and 7 in the evening.
However, as a poet, I can write anywhere and everywhere – hotel rooms, trains, planes etc.
5. What motivates you to write?
I’ve been a professional poet for 32 years now and am motivated to write for performances. I need to keep them fresh and add new material when I can.
When you earn a living from poetry, money (or lack of it) is also a great motivator!
6. What is your work ethic?
I think I have a really positive work ethic – Over 200 books published and over 3000 performances of my poetry in the last 30 years are testament to that.
7. How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?
They did when I first started to write myself, but not so much now.
8. Who of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?
There are many writers – for fiction it’s Carl Hiaasen who writes the most wonderful eco-thrillers which are amusing at the same time. I’ve always admired the poet Roger McGough for his wordplay in both his adult and children’s poetry. There are also a bunch of younger children’s poets who are making their mark on the scene and who’s work I admire.
9. Why do you write, as opposed to doing anything else?
Everyone needs to do something creative. I began by trying to write songs and play the guitar. Quite soon I realised that I hadn’t got the motivation to practise enough and I gave up the guitar but kept on writing words which turned into poetry.
10. What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”
I would tell them not to underestimate how challenging it is, particularly if you want to make a living from your writing. There are so many distractions when you work from home and you need to set yourself targets. I still fail miserably at times but somehow ideas still come along and poems are written.
11. Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.
At the moment I’m writing a series of 8 picture books for very young children. My wife is my co-author on this project. I’m also two-thirds of the way through my second novel for children (first one ‘Python’ was published a couple of years ago) and I’m putting together a new poetry collection. I also started up a blog for teachers 7 years ago and need to keep that up to date each week brian-moses.blogspot.com (http://brian-moses.blogspot.com/) If you’re a teacher, it may save you some planning time!