Three Poems, Three Art Works by stephanie roberts

IceFloe Press

SKELETON::LAKE

words stretch a liquid skin over meaning
sound uses the arithmetic of fate and faith
as knife dividing important and matter.
i’m not going to say i’m busy when i’m not interested.
                    everyone will suffer a degree of hearing loss.

trust a comfort of lies but fear
the woman unafraid of being
                                          the truth.
halfway between heaven and dreaming i release
the guy-wire to fall through a kaleidoscope of monotones
and droning piano chords. my singing voice is ignored

until i hit the chorus. people polish the covers
of what they hide. i wax sincere with you as bad habit
of first born daughters who try to mean only
intentionally. precursor to betrayal. i want to co-exist
with disappointment as with the drug dealers
and prostitutes across the hall who borrowed my boots.
they need a place to live without being compelled
to note every lip curl, shudder and…

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An excerpt from Places of Memory and Throat – Two Poetry Hybrid-Texts By Jaclyn Piudik

IceFloe Press

An excerpt from

In place of memory {in lieu of memory

The places of memory {les lieux de memoire

Fragmentary doting — love
will disillusionwhat we are made of
rejoice in the allure of unease miscreation, rageful apothecaries
and seek the phantom gesturesnail clipping, euphoric extractions
translate collapse into folly

*
*

Otherwheresosmosis — Polaroids — the smell of douce France

I still try to sweep moonlight,
think in parables

*

Throats

It was a large kitchen, formica and vinyl, the height of style in 1975. That was
where I first became aware of it. Or perhaps in Woolworth’s? Gulps of Tab, no

straw, can the color of tonsils. The power in carbonation: how it eased the tight-

ness of everything caught there // voice, tears, rage, fear, secrets, “no” // trapped

where the towel was forced in, to smother what would not find its way out…

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Wombwell Rainbow Book Interviews: Tomasz W. Wiszniewski

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
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.

DIAWB-front-cover

Tomasz W. Wiszniewski

is a Canadian poet and writer whose parents emigrated from Poland to Greece, eventually settling in Ontario. His debut chapbook “Death Is A White Balloon” was released in October. He is currently drafting his second collection of poems, which will be titled “Thirteen Silences.”

“Death Is A White Balloon” can be purchased at the following url: https://t.co/LDWyvXXbdC

The Interview

1. What inspired you to write “Death Is A White Balloon”?

I appreciate the directness of this question. Bywords, a local small press, they gave me the opportunity to write a chapbook over the course of a year and have it published—a generous component of the John Newlove Poetry Award, which is an annual prize commemorating the late John Newlove’s keen and stirring body of work. My receiving of this award set the parameters in which I could focus my time and energy on finishing a pamphlet-length collection. I’ve always been notoriously tardy. I’m good at starting then abandoning a piece of wordery—there’re about 100 or more disjointed poems on my hard drive collecting digital dust (I’ll call these e-mops, not even close to crystallized)—but this time I was blessed with creative freedom (and deadlines, which disciplined me), while simultaneously benefiting from the aid of a supportive, artist-first editorial team at every turn. It was like a peaceful disquiet, my journey with this book; I gathered my trauma, sat with it, allowed my breathing and intuition to chiefly influence diction. I realize that I was compelled to write this verse. I couldn’t not write it. Poetry and art, for me, are not guided by logic; the poem flourishes in the poet’s hand in sporadic bursts as it likes, and the poet must cultivate proactively as new strata make themselves known. Ever since discovering this poetic alchemy, this art form, it has been like an intangible lasso around my heart, nebulous and vital ally to my dreams. “Death Is A White Balloon” will always be special to me, because it’s sort of my first literary time capsule. I like to think of it as an amoeba, a unicellular organism incapable of natural death and yet capable, asexually, of reproduction; the poem reproduces in the sense that, whenever someone reads it, this person’s reading, this impression, is unique. There are numerous inspirations for this particular collection (the liminal space between life and death, the divine feminine, alienation, depression, the winter season, to name just a few), but, in a lot of ways, I’m not at all certain what moved me to write exactly what I ended up writing; I’ve found that I prefer to gain that insight from the reader, who is most invaluable. There’s an unspoken, intimate pact between reader and word. The reader, in the purest sense, possesses one’s words, and the meaning, if any, contained within, which is never stable.

2. Your freewheeling style reminds me of the Beat poets.

Thank you, that’s flattering! There’s so much inspiration to draw from Beat and Beat-associated writers. Aside from the obvious trio, we have the revolutionary work of Amiri Baraka, the zen Gary Snyder. Diane di Prima and Gregory Corso are two underappreciated voices. A small stanza from di Prima: “you are my bread / and the hairline / noise / of my bones / you are almost / the sea.” I admire the anti-intelligentsia, anti-establishment attitudes and street wisdom of these people; their championing of marginalized groups, of the nomads and the beachcombers and the junkies. I admire how the Beats were able to subvert literary conventions and drive into collective consciousness this new (and to the mainstream, totally abrasive) school of poetic examination and practice, a school which, really, is primal not new: a kind of meditative dissolution of baked-in thought patterns; ego death and absorption of spirit—spirit which underlies and connects all. Spiritual intuition is important for me to maintain. Lexical disfigurement. The awareness that superiority is an illusion, that I am superficially isolate but fundamentally sourced the same as a family of sycamores in a flash flood. I’ve learned lots from Ginsberg’s mysticism, his extemporaneous technique. In an essay on “Kaddish,” he wrote that it took him a year to find the patience to type up the poem so he could read it. He felt uncertain whether it was even a poem at that point. Training the mind, to Ginsberg, meant freeing the mind, eliminating all the superfluity and daily desensitization. He viewed compositional defeat as a victory for the poet, something from which new creative pockets might be discovered. “If we write with an eye to what the poem should be (has been), and do not get lost in it, we will never discover anything new about ourselves in the process of actually writing on the table, and we lose the chance to live in our works.” That always resonates with me.

3. What do you mean by “daily desensitivisation”?

We’re barraged relentlessly with propaganda: buy this, be like that, hurry, get up on the latest trend—it’s implicitly there; we grow desensitized to binary, capitalist paradigm. In the context of my poetry, it’s all about retaining sensitivity, receptiveness. It’s hard to do that when you’re so accustomed to something that you’ve gone numb to it, when you can’t distinguish the sham voice from the authentic. The final poem in my book contains a line that was very liberating for me to write, and so is to read back: “what of soul? If I have it I have it, if I don’t I don’t.” I’m accepting that I don’t hold the answers to everything, that there may not always be an answer to glean, maybe the question’s wrong. Say, hypothetically, someone accuses you of having no soul. Arrogance aside, this person assumes that soul is quantifiable, and that both of you share the same definition. That kind of discourse is inhibiting, but I think it can be better understood if we look at how certain beliefs are shaped by external forces. I prefer to live in an amorphous space, where there’s always room for possibility. I refuse to subscribe to the notion that anything is ever fully known

4. What is your daily writing routine?

Honestly, I can’t say I have one. I did try imposing a routine on myself once, to no avail. A peripatetic life really appeals to me, and I prefer to have limited control over my writing. Every day is different. Sometimes I’ll get to the feathery essence of a tangle of ideas within minutes, other times I’ll take little scraps and notes which I’ve written over an extended period of time and fashion a poem out of them. I need to challenge myself, because I’m my own worst enemy. “the silence of dreams ii” was inspired by a week-long stay at Prince Edward Island, by ocean coves and lighthouses, and was mostly written on the road.

5. Besides the Beats who would you say are your other influences?

As far as poetry, off top: John Ashbery, Frank O’Hara, a lot of the New York School. Wanda Coleman, Alejandra Pizarnik, Pessoa, Tsvetaeva. Ernst Herbeck’s childlike peculiarity. Lots of Canadian poets—Leonard Cohen, Anne Carson and Margaret Atwood, obviously; Daryl Hine, who disarms the more you read him. Occasionally I’ll get into the more politically-charged; I was just reading Sean Bonney, so fearless, who sadly passed away recently. Patti Smith, Baudelaire. The Romantics—mainly Keats, Shelley, Blake, but I’ll put the anthologized aside if ever it starts to get cloying; I’m a romantic at heart, he’s just been shrivelled up and disillusioned a bit. “If They Should Come for Us” by Fatimah Asghar; I need to read more. Ocean Vuong’s beautifully vulnerable work. There’s nothing scarier than vulnerability. Rilke, Adrienne Rich, Ted Berrigan. I love the rhythms of Gwendolyn Brooks and Tomas Tranströmer. An obvious one, but T. S. Eliot. I’ve discovered some amazing new poetry via social media—Amanda Earl,rob mclennan, Arielle Tipa, Mela Blust, Andres Rojas; Ethan Parke Smith, whose manuscript I’ve been proofreading. Your own work—I love the recent poem “A Silhouette”; the second stanza contains some beautifully measured repetition. Oh god, I hope I’m not being garrulous. I love diversifying my reading

6. How important is telling a story to your poetry, rather than listing impressions?

Even if I’m feeling lost, I trust that there’s a story embedded deep in that lostness. I may never understand the story. It’s playing out before my eyes. It’s played out before. Barbara Guest wrote, “Losing the arrogance of dominion over the poem to an invisible hand, the poet campaigns for a passage over which the poet has control. Yet the unstableness of the poem is important.” Most of my poetry is composed along an irresolute passage; “Misnebalam” is a good example. I’ll sometimes consciously weave narrative, in which case I have more control over the poem’s direction, such as in “The Yellow River.” “Or “the silence of dreams i,” which documents my experiences years ago of coping with drug overdose and subsequent hospitalization. I believe Guest’s “invisible hand” is this sort of ineffable author of chance who bears the full story of our lives. We, conversely, have our memories; we have the tenuous parts. I feel that it’s important for me to tell my personal story, but only when it’s clawing to get out; when there’s potential for it to affect others in a meaningful way.

7. What is the appeal of alliteration?

You know, I was thinking about this the other day. I’ve always been a sucker for alliteration and other forms of wordplay. It’s totally sensuous. There’s a shape and timbre to every vowel and consonant. We’re narrowing the gap between these sounds when we alliterate; it’s like sponging up a spill in your brain that is full of verbal detritus. It’s pleasing to produce and feel such tangible harmony.

8. Your adventurous word play and use of form when molding your thoughts reminds me of Gerald Manley Hopkins

That’s one of the best compliments I’ve received. My sister introduced me to his writing, I think she’s got the collected works somewhere. While I’ve still only scratched the surface, reading him feels like stoking fire. It’s a bit of an ethereal experience. He wrote things like “The world is charged with the grandeur of God. / It will flame out, like shining from shook foil; / It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil / Crushed.” I’m tempered by his poetry in a way I can only hope to be tempered; renewed fluidity

9. Thinking of your word “Farawayed” what do you think the invention, or reinvention of words gives your poetry?

I’m always searching for ways to shatter the limitations inherent in language… it may be an impossible task, but I can’t help it. I have a tendency to become easily dissatisfied. Homogeneity bores me. Dull architecture leaves one moribund if one is surrounded by it long enough. When I write words like “farawayed” or “sludgeon,” I do so sparingly, but I always welcome the squiggly red line in my word processor. The risk of being incorrect has no power over me. I’d like to say all of this gives my work distinction, but I’d be lying; each one of us is distinct. Our writing is just a reflection of who we are, no matter how much we prune it or fluff it up.

10.Who of today’s poets do you most admire, and why?

A lot of what is termed “queer poetry” (I use quotations only because I consider these poets equal to those poets who get referred to simply as poets)—I very much admire these voices; the strings of words they throw; how they’re able to leave conservatism spinning on its head. Chen Chen wrote “i pledge / betrayal to the fantasy of ever reading anything / completely.” There are so many magical voices getting their word out right now. It’s like being presented with a table of one thousand different types of danishes. I was reading Margaret King today; one of her closing lines knocked me out. It’s honestly hard for me to choose who most moves me in 2019. It’s an awesome time for poetry.

11. Tell me about writing projects such as “Thirteen Silences” that you’re involved in at the moment.

Before I started typing this, I teared up a bit. I find it hard to express in words how much the lyric means to me, which is ironic. For what feels like the majority of my life I’ve been struggling with mental health issues and alienation. I just lost one of my best friends a little over a month ago. I’m listening to an Austrian composer right now named Fennesz, and there’s this wave-like electronic pulse sound warming my ears. My friend would have enjoyed this. This sound makes perfect sense, somehow. And yet, not much else makes sense. I wrote all the poems in “White Balloon” over the course of the past year or so. I didn’t submit any single draft to journals, not sure why. I just kept everything real close to myself and my editorial team and chipped chipped chipped until I felt satisfied (although, I’m never truly satisfied with my work, and already I’m nitpicking and wondering what I could have done differently). I feel a strong connection to nature; nature is the one luminary I look to for guidance. Coyotes are congregating around a campfire, somewhere; an exposed apple seed; parched leaves trapped in a frozen puddle; heavy rain peppering a tarp, so heavy you can feel the drops hitting your ears. I found a ladybug in my room about a month ago and had it scurry onto a piece of paper so that I could let it outdoors. I’ve been fascinated by death for a while now, and I want to be fascinated by something else, but for now death is my only mirror to life. And it’s fantastically elusive—foggy and perhaps misleading, kind of like the “god” in “dreams ii” who/which “is unclear,[…] is impassive, misidentified.” (What I consider to be salvific has nothing to do with deities or theological canon, rather with our own flawed humanity, with personal onuses, with surrendering to nature.) There’s someone irrigating crops right now; people are planning space missions; I’m simply amazed. I feel as though there’s an unexplained ergonomics to death—all organisms seem to collide and slide off in succinct, whittled-down consonance. It’s like, the movie only makes sense after it’s been watched in full. You have to buy into it. I fail to comprehend SO much more than I comprehend, and I’m OK with that. I don’t know if life is even meant for comprehension, maybe it is, maybe not—but it’s a hell of a story. A lot of poets over the centuries have written about the divine. I think the wording is wrong, and wording is important; the divine is writing them. Poetry possesses the poet, not the other way around.

“Thirteen Silences.” It’s currently at such a nascent stage that it’s hard for me to discuss it extensively. But I will say this: it’ll be a short collection dealing with grief; thirteen relatively short poems, none of them titled. Symbolically, it’s sort of like a funeral procession in verse. The primary challenge for me, I think, will be to avoid making these poems inordinately funereal or elegiac in tone. There is a lot of sorrow to work through here, but hopelessness is only by default; finding light and levity is imperative.

Zimbabwe Artists for Human Rights, Freedom of Expression, and Civil Dialogue: Poetry, Song, Dance,Theatre

Jamie Dedes' THE POET BY DAY Webzine

Tafadzwa Muzondo curates  the Inaugural Zimbabwe Human Rights Festival. It was held December 10 –  13.

Thanks to our rich connection with Zimbabwean poet in exile, Mbizo Chirasha, I have the pleasure and privilege of expanding The Poet by Day to include African artists, to feature their efforts in support of human rights and just governance. More to come in 2020 from poets and other artists all over Africa. I hope readers will enjoy the lyrical difference in English, the passionate action, and the creativity demonstrated. The Poet by Day jamiededes.com and The BeZine support crossing borders and honoring shared humanity. One world. One race: the human race. / J.D.



Machipisa in Highfeilds is a paradoxical African high density suburb in Zimbabwe. It gave birth to the both iconic song maestros and political heavyweights inclusive of the late George Nyandoro, Enos Nkala.  Robert Mugabe the late nationalist and former long serving president of Zimbabwe…

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In response to the last Wednesday Writing Prompt: A collection of poems of protest and comments in honor of Reuben Woolley

Jamie Dedes' THE POET BY DAY Webzine

Reuben Woolley

In response to the last Wednesday Writing Prompt, today we celebrate Reuben Woolley’s life, poetry, and commitment to protest poetry. Reuben was published widely in print and digital publications. He also hosted to poetry zines:I am not a poet and Curly Mind. I believe his most recent collection is This Hall of Several Tortures.I am not a silent poet is a zine dedicated to poetry and artwork of protest against abuse in all shapes and forms. Reuben’s motivation for founding the site: “I have seen such increased evidence of abuse recently that I felt it was time to do something. I am not a silent poet looks for poems about abuse in any of its forms, colour, gender, disability, the dismantlement of the care services, the privatisation of the NHS, the rape culture and, of course, war and its victims are just the…

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Poems from Paul Brookes to Honor Reuben Woolley and I am not a silent poet

Many thankyous to Jamie Dedes and her The Poet By Day for featuring these poems that Reuben kindly accepted for his marvellous “I Am Not A Solent Poet” site.

Jamie Dedes' THE POET BY DAY Webzine

c estate of Reuben Woolley

“I wish to honour Reuben by thanking him for all the poems he accepted that I submitted to I am not a silent poet.” Paul Brookes



Note: Due to a technical challenge all of Paul’s poems were left out of the original homage to Reuben Woolley. Hence, they are shared here. / J.D.

World Is

always at war.
Every bulletin lists casualties,
devastated buildings, grief.

Bloodied, scarred, lost, missing,
found dead. What about the lost dead?

Forever wanting you to discover,
uncover their brief candle burn.

We Live

in a fake peace between world wars,
shop and shop to stay reasonable.

Families are killed elsewhere.
We see their relatives tears on plasma screens.

Sometimes tears drop closer to home,
and we are reminded of our fake comfort,

that is preferable, a faux fur covered blade
sometimes bleeds and we are keen.

Our Justification

for the…

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Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Shaindel Beers

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.

Shaindel Beers

is author of the poetry collections A Brief History of Time (Salt Publishing, 2009), The Children’s War and Other Poems (Salt, 2013), and Secure Your Own Mask (White Pine Press, 2018). Her poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. She is currently an instructor of English at Blue Mountain Community College in Pendleton, Oregon, in eastern Oregon’s high desert, and serves as poetry editor of Contrary

Yiu can buy a signed copy of her latest book directly from her:  http://shaindelbeers.com  You can also purchase her books on Amazon, B&N, etc.

The Interview

When and why did you start writing poetry?

I think that most writers probably start as kids because everyone finds their art that helps them process things. Some people paint, some people dance, some people write. Poetry was the least structured and most free, so I think it chose me. My first poem I wrote, not for an assignment, was at about age ten when my cousin shot my dog. I was really distraught, and that was the way I channeled it. It was a poem with the refrain “And the cold wind blows.”

Who introduced you to poetry?

I read the regular “kids’ poetry” we all find in our elementary school readers, but I think my greatest discovery was finding my mom’s college textbooks of The Victorian Era Poets , and a volume of Byron, Keats, and Shelley. Those are what I would consider my first poetry idols, and I’m forever indebted to the Romantics, especially.

How are you “indebted”?

I learned to really value nature and nature imagery in my poetry. The egalitarian bent of their works spoke to me, and the view of the poet as the spokesman for the Everyman. I think we can look at a lot of poets who influenced us and see the wisdom of the Romantics in that. Who hasn’t gone hiking or seen a breathtaking spot in nature and thought of Wordsworth?

What is your daily writing routine?

I actually don’t have one. I do try to write whenever my students are writing. So, if I’m teaching poetry and give students a poetry prompt, I write with them. If I’m teaching fiction and give them a fiction prompt, I write with them. Otherwise, I just write whenever I can, especially if I have an idea that feels like I must get it down on paper.

What motivates you to write?

I think Robert Frost put it best when he said, “Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.” Sometimes you just feel something, and poetry is the only way to channel that.

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

I think they gave me an intellectual curiosity, especially about nature. They taught me to look at the world closely, to notice a single lady bug on a Queen Anne’s Lace to listen to the sound of a river rushing around a bend and burbling over rocks. They taught me how to really see the world.

Which writers gave you this “intellectual curiosity”?

You can look at the beginning of William Blake’s “Auguries of Innocence,” and it’s all there:

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour

Or any of the details in Wordsworth’s “Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey”:

Five years have past; five summers, with the length
Of five long winters! and again I hear
These waters, rolling from their mountain-springs
With a soft inland murmur.—

I don’t think you can read those poems and not want to go out and explore nature on your own…

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

There are so many. Jenn Givhan’s work continues to blow me away. I’ve read all of her poetry, but I have to admit I haven’t read her fiction yet. I have her novel, Trinity Sight, on its way to me now and can’t wait to read it. I love her blending of her Latinx culture and myth, her personal life. It’s so powerful. I can’t wait to see what she does with sci-fi.

I continue to be amazed by Kelly Sundberg and Alice Anderson, who both wrote memoirs that were, for me, in some ways life-changing. Kelly’s honest, complex treatment of an abusive marriage was so powerful, and the beauty of language that Alice wrote in her memoir will always stay with me. I think it’s easy to feel like you have a “big story” and forget about the beauty of language, but each word in Alice’s memoir was like the finest brush stroke on a painting.

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

I still enjoy other arts. I sing with a local chorale, and I’m learning to do fiber arts with loom knitting. I think it’s unfair to assume that artists don’t work in various media. Writing is among the easiest arts for anyone to try because you don’t really need any “tools,” like you do with visual arts or instrumental music, but I do think we should all take part in as many artistic endeavours as we can to discover what we enjoy and what we feel drawn to.

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

I really feel like there is only one piece of advice. You have to read. Read everything in your chosen genre that you can get your hands on, and then read everything in your non-fiction interests, whatever those may be because those are your passions, and they’ll find their way into your work, so you’ll want to know everything about them you can. If your interest is nature — read nature books, science journals, etc. If your interest is history, read history and biographies. That’s the only way you can do a deep dive into your work.

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

I recently took Kathy Fish’s Fast Flash Workshop, which was AMAZING, so I’ve been working on sending out those short stories. I tend to switch back and forth between genres. Since the big push to get my third (poetry) book out there and spend time promoting it, I wanted to switch gears and work on fiction for a while. I’ve been working with an editor on one piece, and she’s had such insightful questions for me. I hope to really hone this particular story into something special and can’t wait to see what it becomes!

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Yvonne Reddick

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.

Reddick_Cover_Web
Yvonne Reddick

is a poet, editor and scholar. Her work appears in newspapers and magazines such as The Guardian Review, Poetry Ireland Review and PN Review. She has received a Northern Writer’s Award (2016), the Mslexia magazine women’s poetry pamphlet prize (2017), a Hawthornden Fellowship (2017), a commendation in the National Poetry Competition, the Poetry Society’s inaugural Peggy Poole Award (2018), and first prize in Ambit’s poetry competition (2019). Her poetry pamphlet Spikenard is published in the Laureate’s Choice series. She is an editor at Magma and co-edited Issue 75 in 2019. Her latest book is Ted Hughes: Environmentalist and Ecopoet.

The Interview

1. What inspired you to write poetry?

I was lucky enough to be surrounded by rhymes and stories when I was growing up – playground chants, school songs, tall tales. My parents read me Hiawatha, an epic poem, and The Hobbit, an epic containing plenty of poetry. I still have rhymes that I wrote while I was at primary school, complete with spelling mistakes!

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

My English teacher at secondary school in Kuwait was a huge influence. She was wonderful. I can’t have been more than 9 or 10 when we read ‘The Early Purges’ by Seamus Heaney. It certainly made an impression on me! Much later, at university, Peter Manson and David Morley encouraged me to keep writing.

3. How aware were you of the dominating presence of older poets?

As a teenager, I was very aware of the authors anthologised in Alvarez’s The New Poetry. My father had a copy of the revised edition, brimming with notes in his schoolboy scrawl. The poetry wasn’t particularly ‘new’, and Plath and Sexton were long dead by the time I read the anthology. My Dad also had the facsimile edition of Eliot’s drafts of The Waste Land, in which Ezra Pound writes what every poet fears their mentor will tell them: ‘B—ll—s.’

The only truly contemporary poet I read in detail at school was Carol Ann Duffy. Mean Time manages to be both philosophical and devastatingly witty, and I expect that a generation of women poets have found Duffy’s work enabling.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

I normally write on the TransPennine Express, from my workplace in Preston to my home in Manchester. I’m getting better at setting aside dedicated writing time, and often write in the evenings.

5. What motivates you to write?

I’ll usually get started with a line, a title or an idea. Sometimes it’s the momentum of a long sequence. I spend a long time redrafting, and will do so in meticulous detail. I begin to feel stressed and out of sorts if I go for too long without writing – being creative does wonders for my wellbeing.

6. What is your work ethic?

Protestant on Sundays and non-existent on holiday.

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

Richard Adams’s Watership Down has a lot to answer for. I read it at primary school, and I don’t think I’ll ever stop wanting to read environmental writing. I published a book about Ted Hughes’s environmentalism two years ago, so The New Poetry can claim responsibility for a lasting interest!

8. Who of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?

That’s difficult, as there are so many I admire! Karen McCarthy Woolf’s collections are beautifully crafted – the balance between the personal and the universal is very carefully struck, and the formal devices she uses in Seasonal Disturbances have a virtuoso brilliance. Isabel Galleymore’s first collection contains highly distinctive environmental poetry, and I’ve just had the pleasure of reading her first academic book.

I always show my undergraduates work by Pascale Petit and Vahni Capildeo, who have remarkably perceptive ways of looking at animals. Sandeep Parmar and Fiona Benson interpret myths from fresh angles, making them stunningly contemporary – I like to share their poems with the students. When the undergraduates are studying the sonnet, they get Zaffar Kunial’s ‘The Lyric Eye’ and ‘The Swear Box’ by Michael Donaghy. I suppose the poetry I share with people is a good indicator of what I admire!

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

I’m terrible at drawing and I don’t know how to make films!

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

First, read as much of the good stuff as you can lay your hands on. Then, find a writing group, a writing course, or some friends who write. They’ll be able to give you feedback and keep you motivated. If you want to be a poet, start sending work out to magazines, build up a track record, then see if you can get a pamphlet out… then maybe a collection…

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

I’ve just finished editing Magma’s 75th issue, on the theme of loss. I received thousands – literally thousands – of excellent poems, and I’m helping Magma to arrange readings for the poets published in the issue. I’ve been running writing workshops for people who have been bereaved, and will start some new ones at Lancashire’s NHS Recovery College in January.
I’m slowly pulling my poems together into sequences, and am trying to work with longer, more experimental forms. Climate change, and my ancestors’ work in fossil fuel industries from coal to oil, are huge preoccupations for me at the moment.

Magma – Loss Issue:

Magma 75

Ted Hughes: Environmentalist and Ecopoet:
https://www.palgrave.com/gb/book/9783319591766