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 recent English graduate from Keele University, and currently runs an online blog on all things poetry, including reviews, advice, Q&As with other writers and her own work. She enjoys writing about both familial and romantic relationships, mental health, and has a particular fascination with fruit imagery. Nabeela’s literary inspirations include Amy Lowell, Li-Young Lee, Kim Addonizio and Franny Choi; she also aims to publish a short poetry collection in the next few years.
And my blog link:
1. What inspired you to write poetry?
I’ve been writing a form of poetry for years, maybe since I was 15 or 16. I used to write little snippets of lines and descriptions in a notebook but they were never fully formed poems at that point. They were very personal and diary-like; I just loved placing different words together and playing around with weird imagery aha!
But I think it was actually when I started university and took creative writing modules, where I had to read out my work to a class, that gave me a different feeling, a different motivation. The realisation that I can write and I’m not actually as terrible as I thought really inspired me to take poetry seriously.
2. Who introduced you to poetry?
I got my first glimpse of poetry through school, specifically secondary school. My English teacher was amazing, she always encouraged me to keep writing and pursue English further. I owe a lot to her. However, I think it was only when I went out of my way to read poetry outside of the national curriculum, for example when I read and fell in love with Imtiaz Dharker’s collection ‘The Terrorist at my Table’ outside of school, that was when I got a real sense of the poetry that I personally liked.
So I’d say it was school that introduced me to poetry as a form, but it was my own interest and developing passion that brought to light the literary community that comes with it, and really showed me the wider context of what poetry can achieve.
3. How aware were you of the dominating presence of older poets?
I was very aware, especially when it came to studying literature at both college and university. However, because they were older and no longer around, I didn’t feel pressured or threatened by their work. I always try my best to educate myself on the history of poetry and learn from the style, genre and form of older poets, but, I’m a strong believer in that this is our time now. Knowing that the dominating presence of older poets consists primarily of white, able-bodied, heterosexual men is actually the thing that motivates me to keep going, because I want to change that. I’d love to see poetry become more inclusive and accessible which I think is slowly happening, but we unfortunately still have a long way to go.
4. What is your daily writing routine?
It’s hard to answer this one since I’ve only recently started to implement an actual writing routine. It was usually university deadlines for creative writing modules that forced me to write but it was always so sporadic, writing was never dedicated to a fixed time or moment in the day. However, since starting my own poetry blog, I tend to have a more focused approach. So typically, in the afternoon when my little sisters are at school and everyone else is out busy doing other things, I make myself a hot drink (I’ve been loving camomile at the moment) and make my way downstairs to the kitchen. I open up my laptop to a blank Word document and write down the first thing that comes to mind. It’s almost always random nonsense but it helps to form some sort of image. Ideas stem from this and before I know it there’s a few lines already written.
Explaining my writing routine has made me realise it’s nothing fancy at all aha! But most of the time it works, it kicks my brain into writing mode. Of course, it does change from time to time. Some days I like writing in bed and some days I don’t write anything at all. But I guess that’s okay, as long as I’m at least trying.
5. What motivates you to write?
I think this goes back to my previous answer about the excitement of stringing words together and creating an image with emotion. That’s literally all poetry is if you strip it down to the basics. So the idea that I can do that, create something honest, beautiful and powerful from just words; it’s the feeling that I get when I finish a poem that I love, that’s what motivates me and pushes me to keep going.
6. What is your work ethic?
Having a great work ethic and attitude is so important but I think it’s something that you have to teach yourself, it’s rare that you’ll have an excellent work ethic naturally. It’s all about giving a damn about what you’re doing and, most importantly, remembering why you’re doing it. As long as I care about what I’m writing and I keep in mind why I’m doing it, my work ethic will be at its best.
I’m going to admit though that it’s not always easy. My attitude towards writing does falter from time to time (I think that’s just part of being a writer unfortunately!) But it’s just part of the process. I do believe though that when my work ethic is good, it definitely translates into my writing.
7. How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?
Fun fact, I never used to read poetry! I adored novels. Fun stories and classics and of course Harry Potter! So, in terms of form and structure, I didn’t really take much away from these writers. However, I remember reading profusely and knowing from a really young age that literature is important to me and has value. The writers I used to read didn’t exactly influence my writing per se but they definitely played a part in my excitement and passion for words, which is the thing that keeps me focused and driven now.
8. Who of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?
That’s such a difficult question, there’s so many that I love! But if I had to pick one who stands out it would be Kim Addonizio. She’s unapologetically feminine, never shying away from talking about her promiscuous side. Her poems zoom in on the simple everyday objects and moments which is something I try and do myself, so she’s a huge inspiration for me.
9. Why do you write, as opposed to doing anything else?
Not many people know this but I started a sales and marketing job recently and quit soon after because I realised that the entire time I was there, all I was thinking about was going home and writing. I just felt that life’s too short to be doing something that didn’t make me happy.
So I write because the thought of doing anything else that takes up all of my time just doesn’t appeal to me, it doesn’t make me feel excited to wake up in the morning and start my day.
10. What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”
It sounds so easy when I say it and if you ask any other writer they will tell you the same, but to be a writer you simply just need to write! But more practically speaking, I’d say to set yourself small goals and deadlines. Tell yourself that you’re going to write two poems a week, or that you’re going to submit to a writing competition/journal once a month. These little goals will keep you focused and on track.
As well as that, read like your life depends on it, and talk to other writers! Don’t be afraid to drop someone a quick message and say hi, even if it seems weird and out of the blue, and start a conversation. Share other people’s work as well as your own. Not only will this motivate you to keep writing, but being involved in the literary community is just as integral to your development as a writer as writing itself.
11. Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.
I don’t actually have any projects that I’m working on at the moment, or I guess I do but I’m just not labelling them as projects in fear that it’ll overwhelm me aha! I’m just writing as much as I possibly can, getting every emotion out there on paper. I’m still figuring out exactly what I want to write about and what kind of writer I want to be.
I have my blog which I absolutely adore so I’m always planning and writing posts for that. By the end of the year I want to be able to say that I’ve written as many poems as I possibly could, more than I’ve ever written before. And hopefully those poems will find a home in potentially my first ever collection… but we’ll just have to wait and see!