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.
is a Best of the Net-nominated poet and writer and the author of Mistakes Were Made, Micro: a microchapbook of micropoems, How My Cat Saved My Life and Other Poems, Three Words, and Boleyn, with work forthcoming or appearing in a wide variety of publications.
She is the founding editor of Nightingale & Sparrow, runs a lifestyle blog, For the Sake of Good Taste, and is a regular contributor with Marías at Sampaguitas, Royal Rose, Memoir Mixtapes, and The Poetry Question. When she isn’t writing (and sometimes when she is), she can be found with a cup of coffee and her cat, Fitz. Juliette can be reached on her website, juliettesebock.com, or across social media @juliettesebock.
1. When and why did you start writing poetry?
I honestly don’t remember a time in which I wasn’t writing something—from stories in preschool to songs in middle school. I really started writing poetry, though, in high school and into college. It was solely a cathartic thing for me—a sort of therapeutic exercise to cope with, well, life. I’ve always found writing, in all its forms, to be a kind of restorative act. By the summer prior to my senior year of college, I knew I had to do something more with it, and my first chapbook was born!
2. Who introduced you to poetry?
Just like I can’t remember a time without writing, I really can’t remember a time when I wasn’t reading. Shakespeare & Poe were early favourites (I was that weird kid who read way too much classic lit), so I was exposed to poetry in general rather early.
But, when it comes to my own poetry, I owe so much to my friend and fellow poet, Hugh Martin. Hugh was the first person who ever really talked to me seriously about poetry, and he encouraged my writing, too. He recommended one of the first poetry books I seriously read beyond the “greats,” and reading his work, as well, was especially inspiring. I’d already been writing, but I never really thought much about doing anything with it, and I’m so absurdly grateful to him for igniting that spark, so to speak!
3. How aware are and were you of the dominating presence of older poets traditional and contemporary?
When I first started writing, and even submitting, I had no idea of just how massive the poetry community, both currently and through time, really is. I’d been exposed to some of the biggest names (and even then, only a small portion of the canon), but little more. I found Button Poetry’s videos which, while hardly unknown, showed me a glimpse of the voices that are out there. From there, I dug up more and more small publications; along the way, I not only found more accessible opportunities, but I made connections with so many amazing poets I may never have found otherwise!
4. What is your daily writing routine?
I don’t really have one. Between health issues and work, it really is hard to find time to write…but that’s when I really need to “make” the time, so to speak.
For me, writing’s always been a sort of compulsion–at the risk of a poetic cliché, I need to write like I need to breathe. Most of my writing happens in a notetaking app on my phone when the urge strikes. I hope to have the room, in a scheduling sense, to have the sort of formal writing routine that you see the big-name authors share but, for now, this works for me!
5. What motivates you to write?
For me, writing is frankly as necessary as breathing. There’s not really another option–if I’m not writing and haven’t for a while, everything feels off.
Publishing though, I’ve found is motivated in part by my experience in dealing with chronic illness. A lot of what I live with tends to be confusing to doctors, and I constantly have that deeply-rooted fear that there’s something bigger going on that will be missed. I’ve had a lot of people comment on the extent to which I submit & publish pieces, but so much of that is simply because I’m afraid I won’t always have the opportunity to do so.
6. How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?
Allusions are probably the most blatant case of that influence; I think almost every manuscript I’ve completed has at least one reference to something by Shakespeare. His work and Austen’s, in particular, played in a big part in my dream of living in the UK, which I was lucky enough to do for a while–an experience that’s been a huge factor in my writing as well.
6.1. Why “Austen’s, in particular”?
Shakespeare and Austen were some of the first writers I read seriously, and that’s stuck with me through the years. In fact, I learnt a lot about language from doing so, rather in the classroom–I’m still holding a grudge against an elementary school spelling test that took off points for my spelling it “grey” as opposed to “gray!” I’ve always loved the sort of romanticised version of Britain and books were a major portion of that. I’ve ended up with a sort of US/UK English myself as a result which, in my mind, sort of marks a piece as my own.
7. Who of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?
One of my favourite things about indie lit is that so many writers that I admire are those I’m lucky enough to call friends, or at least acquaintances (with a few exceptions in which I’m exclusively a fan [so far])…which also means I’m bound to forget a few along the way, so I’ll apologise for that upfront. But some of those writers include Lannie Stabile, Lynne Schmidt, Elfie, Imani Campbell, Jean-Marie Bub, Kat Giordano, Maddie Anthes, Kate Garrett, Megan Lucas, Nadia Gerassimenko, Marisa Craine, Janna C. Valente, Megan O’Keeffe, Juliette van der Molen, Kayt Christensen, Courtney LeBlanc, and so, so many more! All of these writers are so hardworking and talented and generally wonderful–it’d be hard not to admire them!
8. What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”
Quite simply, I’d tell them to write. It’s the only real “requirement” to call yourself a writer!
To answer the implicit question, though, of how to become a published writer, the answer is similar–submit. If you tell yourself that your work isn’t good enough to send to a publication, you’ll never have the chance to have someone say “Yes, we’d love to publish your piece!” There’s so, so much rejection to be had, but if you don’t push through that, you’ll never have the joy that comes with that first acceptance (and those that come after it!).
9. Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.
Right now, I’ve got two chapbooks lined up for 2020 publication and have a few more manuscripts out in the world and in progress. I’ve pulled away from submitting much over the past few months amidst some health & other issues, so one of my plans for the next few months is to get back into the swing of things there–and I’ve still got a few pending submissions from earlier in the year! Otherwise, we’ve got a lot of exciting things to come from Nightingale & Sparrow and I’m hoping to build my freelance writing & editing client base as well. Overall, I’m optimistic about some great opportunities on the horizon!