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.
Susan Richardson is an award winning, internationally published poet. She is the author of “Things My Mother Left Behind”, coming from Potter’s Grover Press in 2020, and also writes the blog, “Stories from the Edge of Blindness”. You can find her on Twitter @floweringink, listen to her on YouTube, and read more of her work on her website.
1. What inspired you to write poetry?
I think I was always interested in the ways life is fragmented, and for me, poetry feels like the best way to capture that fragmentation. I can remember seeing a Picasso painting, as a young girl, and feeling the weight of a fragmented life in the face of the gray cubed man in the painting. What I realized later, is that it felt like poetry. Poetry has also always been what comes most naturally to me as a writer; it is just how the words come out.
2. Who introduced you to poetry?
I remember my Mom giving me Shel Silverstein books as a child, but it was really my sister who introduced me to poetry when she gave me a copy of, “Ariel” by Sylvia Plath. It changed my life. I don’t think I really understood what poetry could do, until I read Plath.
3. How aware were you of the dominating presence of older poets?
Honestly, not very. I never studied poetry in any formal setting. I am pretty much self-taught and have always sought out what resonates with me on a human and emotional level. I love the transportive feeling of older poetry, but it is the freedom, the breaking of boundaries in the work of contemporary poets, that really excites me.
4. What is your daily writing routine?
I wake up very early (430 am most days), and I try and spend the first few hours of my day either working on poems or reading poetry. It is a perfectly beautiful and quiet space between night and day, and I love the stillness of it. Some days, I write one line, some days 50, some days none at all, but I sit at my desk every day and at least give myself the opportunity to write. I find that sometimes, even writing an email can inspire me to work on whatever current project I have under my hat. It is just about getting the words going and seeing where they take me. But, if I have days when nothing is happening, I don’t beat myself up about it. I do other stuff and come back to the writing the next day. I believe in a writing practice, but don’t think the creative process can be forced.
5. What motivates you to write?
What motivates me to write, is pain. I write about the dark stuff. I write about loss and loneliness, death and blindness. I am drawn creatively to the bleaker side of things, to figuring out what darkness truly means. But, I am also motivated by the words themselves, by the power they have to transport someone into a place or a feeling or a moment. I think the beauty of language can give even the darkest things a certain light.
6. What is your work ethic?
My work ethic is a bit fluctuating. I go from thinking I need to write every day, which almost always leads me to feelings of failure, to loosening the reins and letting myself go for periods without writing, pushing the rules aside to allow the creativity to take hold. I have never done well with rules, and so tend to feel stifled, creatively, if I adhere to many of them to my writing practice. I may be at my desk every day, but if I am just reading, that is ok. Reading is such a huge part of being a writer and I like to honour that.
7. How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?
The writers I read when I was young are at the roots of my poetry. Poets like Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton and Sharon Olds, taught me the power of language. Writers like Amy Tan and Yukio Mishima taught me that even in darkness, a certain magic can be infused into writing. These are things that I will always strive for and hold onto tightly.
9. Why do you write?
I write to face the darkness that is inside of me, to try and understand it and learn how to release it. I write because words are how I see. I write in the hope that my expressions of pain will help others feel less alone, more understood. I write because I am enamored with language and what it can do, where it can take people. I write because I love it.
10. What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”
I don’t think you “become” a writer. I think that if you feel the passion for language, the pull to express yourself through words, and you act on that passion, you are a writer. I think in the practice of writing, what you can “become” is better, if you keep wrting and reading and learning and being inspired by other writers.
11. Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.
My book, “Things My Mother Left Behind”, from Potter’s Grove Press, is due out in July. I am also working on a collection of essays about life in Los Angeles as a visually impaired woman, and a series of poems I call “The Rage Poems”.