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 three options: an emailed list of questions or a more fluid interview via messenger, or an interview about their latest book, or a combination of these.
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.
s r jakobi
Ex-lecturer, in his late 60s. Initial degree in Business and MFL (French & German); MA in history; post graduate teaching qualification. Began writing poetry in August 2019, a spur of the moment decision. He was never particularly enamoured of poetry but has delved into 20th century poetry and found he enjoys reading it.
He has written one collection of poems, published by River Dixon’s Potter’s Grove Press, Antiques & Curios: Fragments of a Love Affair (2020) and has four poems (see under SJ Reizlein) in an anthology edited by Tara Caribou of Raw Earth Ink, titled The Poets Symphony (2020).
Currently, he is working on two projects: a follow up to Antiques & Curios and a collection of poems, illustrated with his own photographs, on travel. Both will be completed in 2020.
1. What inspired you to write poetry?
Purely a need to express the loss of a friendship that obviously meant more to me than to her.
That was the catalyst to write. Cathartic reasons. Now I have the bug.
2. Who introduced you to poetry?
No-one. It found me. Although I did enjoy French poetry at A Level – the teacher was young and rather lovely, and she was enthusiastic about the subject. That was 50 years ago.
3. How aware were you of the dominating presence of older poets?
Studying the Metaphysical Poets nearly finished off my poetry interests in English Lit. Again that was 50 years ago. I still have a philistine attitude (an antipathy) to much pre-20th century poetry. I do however quite enjoy some Victorian/ Edwardians like AE Housman and WB Yeats. Housman was a local lad so he’s OK.
I write poetry how I write it – there is some style to it on the wonderful occasions when it happens.
4. What is your daily writing routine?
I am proud to say I do not have one. Not an inspirational answer, but honest.
5. What motivates you to write?
Just a desire to do it. It isn’t for the money –I have not managed to tap into the zeitgeist like Rupi Kaur and never will. There is pleasure in seeing your own words, thoughts, in a book, or a dissertation. It takes time and mental effort to get that far, so to see it in a physical format, especially, is gratifying. Many of my poems are very personal, as attested to in Antiques & Curios,
(henceforth A & C)
6. What is your work ethic?
Pretty much in the style of my cats – zero work ethic. I leave all work ethic concerns to Protestants (see Weber).
7. How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?
Their influence was important to me inasmuch as I was introduced to new words, ideas, places, histories etc. An important question is how one defines ‘young’. I remember collecting Dean’s Classics (UK), so there were books such as Treasure Island, The Coral Island, The Black Arrow, The Three Musketeers, historical fiction mainly – up to the age of 12 – all adventure stories.
I was also an avid reader of history books – books were a crucial part of my life in my formative years. I did find reading for testing purposes more of a chore but got through it. I found Thomas Hardy and poetry more appealing after the exams. As far as literature was concerned I enjoyed it more at undergraduate and post graduate levels – although it was a minor part of my studies. Maturity lent greater appreciation and empathy in my case.
8. Who of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?
I have enjoyed Donna Tartt’s novels – as there are only 3 of them it is reasonably easy to have a complete collection – although they are quite lengthy – The Secret History is the one to read first because it is an easier read, in my opinion, or should I say more to my taste – ancient history, murder mystery and a college milieu – suits me fine. Saw her at Cheltenham Lit Fest – erudite, lovely in every way, writer and academic.
Yesterday’s writers – those who are now no longer alive:
John Updike – I visited Ipswich MA in 2018 just to get a feel for the town on which he based the imagined Tarbox of Couples and other stories. Lucky enough to meet him once – see A & C poem.
Phil Roth – should have been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Live and kicking as of today – great favourites – Ian McEwan, Julian Barnes and Martin Amis – another author I’ve met- only briefly. Money is still his masterpiece.
Poets – a shout out for Potter’s Grove Press writers. The Two Erics, Eric Keegan and Eric Daniel Clarke; M Ennenbach and River Dixon – of course. Without River’s encouragement I doubt I would have bothered to get anything published.
And at Raw Earth Ink – Tara Caribou, a poet of true talent; editor who deposited some of my poems in the superb collection: Poets Symphony.
Wheeling out some big guns: Carol Ann Duffy – always so readable, Ferlinghetti’s got a great voice and Sylvia Plath –some poems are utterly sad/fab -I did enjoy her novel The Bell Jar more
I have a great fondness for Jo Bell’s collection Kith.
Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan – two great poets and musicians – both get a poem from me in Poets Symphony
9. Why do you write, as opposed to doing anything else?
I am retired from the drudgery of the workplace. I have time to do quite a few things – they just do not have a monetary reward attached. Anything other than writing is a money pit – i.e. travel, books, hi-fi etc.
Writing takes up more time than I think it really should. It’s all the re-working, editing, new ideas pop up, so it seems a never ending endeavour. I remember doing multiple changes to poems before the publishing deadline for A & C – River Dixon was super-supportive – I felt sorry for him because I made so many last minute revisions –many were miniscule. He was very patient with me.
10. What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”
You become a writer by writing – sounds a trite answer, but it’s the main factor. It is important to read widely too- well for me it is. Read out what you have written to people who you trust will not give you the bum’s rush and will be, at least, mildly supportive.
11. Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.
A collection of poems following on from Antiques & Curios. Its title, at present, Excess Baggage: A Romance of Sorts
It is carried everywhere, every day,
and wears out bone, sinew and muscle,
terminates grey-blue cells, our mind-numb
episodes, our all too frequent raw blame-war.
Now take your choice of deadening ice to
cool off heated humours, anger, petty
jealousies, excess baggage,
a romance of sorts we act out, just
let go of inhibitions, play freely in
woods, deserts and mountains, throw
away the acculturation that traps us,
walk in pleasure through tall grasses,
look carefully, for once, see what is above,
lightning and stars, old kindling fires
discover all the ways of how we can love,
with whom we can be, and when and why,
learn how to live with and without each other,
to make sacrifices and yet not lose friendship
Freddie is Dead
so it must be just after the
twenty-fourth of November,
cold and wet late autumn,
the petrol tank now full,
off into our discreet place
some time together at last,
though it is not
an auspicious day,
quiet, the death-knell stillness,
then you say your mother liked Freddie,
though to me she appears old,
but not much more
ancient than me, and she is
awkward and fusty,
from what you tell me, now
running out of words,
my chill breath floats,
my body flakes into
a slack breadcrumb bag,
food for ducks,
I fall into a still deeper silence.
Another collection of poems: working title: Of Places, People and Time. This is a travelogue, with mainly quirky things about my journeys; personal recollections of places that are, I have found, of interest. It will include black and white photos.
Palm Springs Marilyn
across the arid land and into
ice-mist sprayed Palm Springs,
mountains frame the place,
a golfer’s slow-baked resort,
and we find her today,
26 feet tall,
there she stands
with her billowy attire,
freeze-frame, buff legs,
that sexy stancewhite high heels and knickers,
she displays a rounded backside, now
step inside, between her slim legs,
and for a while, you can be smoking Joe,
myopic Arthur or boss-eyed Jack, c’mon
take a while to caress her curvy calves,
crane your neck, look up at her ivory crotch,
and in time-honoured tourist fashion you can
take some snaps, she doesn’t move, but
do it before she is shipped off to show it all
again in a northern lake-city whose mighty
gusts can throw a dress up and right over
your goddam head
The three poems are works in progress – may be subject to some revisions. I know it is not great poetry, but I find pleasure in and fulfilment from writing it. And that is why I write.