Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Kate North

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.

Kate North

was born in Glasgow in 1978 and moved to her family hometown of Cardiff soon after. She studied English in Aberystwyth (BA) then Creative Writing in East Anglia (MA) and Cardiff (PhD). Kate is currently the Programme Director of the MA English Literature and Creative Writing pathways at Cardiff Metropolitan University. She has previously published a novel, Eva Shell (Cinnamon Press, 2008) and a poetry collection Bistro (Cinnamon Press, 2012).

Find out about her new short story collection, Punch

Find out about her latest poetry collection, The Way Out



The Interview

1. What inspired you to write poetry?

I’ve felt a need or a compulsion to write poetry since I was child.  I think it is simply quite an ingrained requirement that some people have to express and make sense of the world they experience.

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

My grandfather, reading it aloud as I sat on his knee as a child.  ‘The Pied Piper of Hamlyn’ by Robert Browning was a firm favourite.

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

Initially, I wasn’t particularly aware, but I think I was influenced.  Through the poems selected by my grandfather and then through the education system right through to University.  Though I never felt excluded by their presence, I’m not sure why.  Possibly because English is my mother tongue and the language of older poets is very present in English, I feel.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

I don’t have a daily routine.  I work in chunks according to projects.  And then I prefer to write from the morning, starting as early as possible.  I write for as long as I can.  Once I have stopped writing the rest of the day is for editing, reading or doing something entirely different.

5. What motivates you to write?

It is part of who I am, in terms of my work, my identity, my life.  I don’t think I could change that even if I wanted to at this point.

6. What is your work ethic?

I find that a really hard question to answer.  In terms of the value of my work, then it depends, as I have so many aspects to my work.  I have an academic role which I think is important.  I have a commitment to my students that I take seriously.  In terms of my writing, I feel that I have a duty to myself and my family to publish what I am proud of.

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

In ways that I probably don’t even understand!  Those early texts snared me into the whole business of writing.  And those authors, like Robert Browning and Roald Dahl, gave me rhythms, cadences and sounds that are part of my lexicon now.

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

Ali Smith is an amazing writer.  She is utterly engaged in the world and her novels are endlessly exciting to me. He interest in the history and ecology of language is so compelling.

In terms of poetry I admire Selima Hill for her distinctiveness and her stamina as a poet. Her surreal and humorous writing often carries a stark sadness also.  For consistent brilliance and powerful intellectual inquiry with deep personal insight I value Denise Riley.  A recent arrival on the scene with real talent I enjoy reading is Kayo Chingonyi.

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

I do other things as a well.  I teach, I work on community projects, I communicate ideas and I work to support the literature sector in Wales and beyond through my work as a trustee.  I don’t think I would be able to write if I didn’t do other things as well.

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

I think you have to find your own way to become a writer.  And there are many types of writers.  The most important thing is to write.  And keep writing.

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

Well, having recently published two books I have been enjoying a break.  I have started something very recently, but I don’t want to jinx it by talking about it.  Watch this space!


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