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.
I politely asked her for permission to use the images and biography on her website but got no reply.
Dr. Kate Fox
1. What were the circumstances under which you began to write poetry
Being very young & liking the sounds of words & the patterns they could make.
2. Who introduced you to poetry?
My Mum read things like The Lady of Shallot out loud. She used the write light verse herself, though never mentioned it when she was alive. She wasn’t generally encouraging of what I did though as any praise was seen as encouraging you to get “too big for your boots”.
3. How aware were you of the dominating presence of older poets?
I don’t understand the question. When do you mean? I was introduced to poetry at about the age of 8…
4. I understand. To expand on the question what other older poets did your mum introduce to you, read aloud to you?
That one poem was it I think. Possibly some others in an old fashioned Household Compendium Book. Then I was given as gifts things like Kit Wright’s poems & AA Milne.
5. Poets often use the first poems they hear as models for their early work. How did this work for you?
Lots of playful rhyming poems…
4. How important is playing and experimenting with words to the work you do now?
It IS the work I do now
5. What is your daily writing routine?
It’s not always daily. I might have a gig or a workshop or a meeting. I tend to write in the afternoons once the admin’s been done, the dog walked & lunch eaten. The place where I get the most bubbling-up urge to just write something is often at a reading whilst hearing other poets. Not always the most practical place to actually write.
Other poets spoken images and words motivate you to write. What else motivates you?
6. The urge to say something I can’t say elsewhere. Anger, fear, confusion at a massive irony.
7. What do you mean by “massive irony”?
Usually a gap between rhetoric & reality. For example, the government talking about the country all being in austerity together but then there being much less money given to Northern councils.
8. Poetry as pointing out and emphasising these disparities in
Exactly. Showing up the evasions and gaps in official or commercial discourse.
9. What poets you read when younger encouraged you to see the role of the poet as radical and campaigning?
Your question assumes there were some.
10. Or not. If there weren’t any that’s fine, too. Motivation can emerge from other areas of life too.
I’m quite interested in questions. I think all of your questions assume something. (That someone introduced me to poetry, that I knew about “dominating older” poets, that first models of poems influenced what I do now. etc). Being asked a series of leading, assumptions questions like this reminds me that what I most value about poetry is the poetry that doesn’t assume things. That asks genuinely open questions. I’ve trained as a journalist, a counsellor and an ethnographer, so that open but active listening is important to me. My poetry doesn’t always do it but I’d like it to. If your questions are getting to get to what I think poetry is, it’s almost the opposite of your questions. It’s the rupture that is me getting a bit fed up with it and pointing it out to you. It’s the subsequent risk and release. And the freedom to say-you’ve taken up enough of my time now (a precious hour). I have other things to do. I love poetry’s brevity. How it doesn’t assume people have a whole hour to spare.
11. I apologise for wasting your hour, Kate.
It’s not a waste of an hour but I’m surprised you assumed I’d have so much time to spare at such short notice. Rather than a “flowing” chat, it’s been some leading questions, full of assumptions. The opposite of conversation or dialogue. But your questions really have sparked off my realisation about what poetry is to me. Happy for you to publish this. But now I have to go get ready to do a gig tonight.