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.
Writer | Performance Artist | Educator
Susan Evans is author of Shift Happens (Read Fox Books). She is also a regular contributor to a variety of magazines; in print and online. She has been captivating audiences of live literature, music and comedy festivals for over two decades; nationally and overseas, from London to New York. She is five times listed ***Best Spoken Word Performer*** of the year | 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 (The Saboteur Awards.) And ***Best Collab*** 2020, for her inspirational, story-telling, commissioned by Creative Future for Hastings Storytelling Festival, hosted by Hastings Contemporary, supported by Arts Council England. Susan Evans lives and writes in Brighton, UK.
1. What inspired you to write poetry?
An innate love of language and story-telling music, mostly.
2. Who introduced you to poetry?
Early years I would have to say nursery school, with their nursery rhymes. (I loved Incy Wincy Spider!) Progressing onto billboards, hymns, song lyrics, school texts and performance poets. At home and in my community, in north-east London, It was common place to see a wall-hanging of ‘If’ by Rudyard Kipling and The Serenity Prayer (Anon). Those inspirational poems were also early introductions (and mantras to live by.)
3. How aware were you of the dominating presence of older poets?
Blissfully unaware! (A late starter with most things, me!)
4. What is your daily writing routine?
I do not have a daily writing routine, as such. I note thoughts and ideas as they come, organically. I then block out segments of time, with the intention of putting thoughts into some sort of order, mostly fuelled by black coffee and dark chocolate.
5. What motivates you to write?
A desire to communicate. The desire usually comes viscerally. A sense of needing to relinquish thoughts and feelings on some subject; be it dark or light, onto the page; lest thoughts evaporate. Once suitably crafted, from countless hours ‘in flow,’ I think about where and how I might communicate my art with the world; reflecting our shared humanity.
6. What is your work ethic?
Whatever I commit to, I like to fully honour with love and integrity. I am pretty uncompromising with projects. That kind of ethic means that sometimes, some projects take a bit of time to come to fruition. And some project ideas may need to be released; let go of. So be it. It’s a journey, not a race.
7. How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?
When I was young, I enjoyed the privilege of reading and being read to, the works of C.S. Lewis, Rudyard Kipling, A.A. Milne, Enid Blyton, Beatrix Potter, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Roald Dhal, Lewis Carroll, Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare, et al. Classic writers who were mostly prescribed to me as a child, were warmly welcomed. Some of the most memorable, century old quotes have slipped into some of my poems. (In quotations, of course.) When a reader/listener quotes me, I cherish that. To make memorable work is something, isn’t it?
8. Who of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?
So many. Upon reflection, I mostly admire or appreciate writers of story-telling music. Early exposure to the family record player has had a significant influence. I have always felt strongly drawn to songs where the spoken word is foremost. So currently, for me, that would be the kind of artists and writers/lyricists likely to be featured on BBC Radio 6 Music. Why? Because they literally move me. Like I have to turn up the dial. I have to get up. I have to take note! (I like to be inspired, as well as inspire, it’s spiritual.) Also, The Moth Radio Hour ~ those live broadcasts of inspiring truth-tellers. Oh.My.Word. A recent episode had me seriously tearing up. (The theme was grief.) Then we have some brilliant, contemporary playwrights… Suffice to say, I admire writers who keep it real, who produce authentic, thought-provoking, awe-inspiring, transporting, transforming, uplifting, human, all the feels, work (pretty subjective!) with an interesting sound and flow, work that translates well from page to stage. I do love my literature live. I am part of that tribe.
9. Why do you write?
I write to connect with myself and others. Of all the modes of expression, writing is the most natural to me. You know the show-biz stories you hear about the child who could sing before they could talk? Well I was the child (toddler, even) who managed to reach her mother’s, out of reach, bottle of special fountain pen ink & drank it! (Do not try this at home!) Maybe I thought I was Alice in Wonderland (Though no label said: “drink me.”) I am hardly ever without a pen on my person; I become antsy when pens disappear or when ink runs dry. (Even with all the technology.) I usually carry several pens.
10. What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”
I would say that you become with practise. I would also suggest that reading can up your writing game ~ that there are many decent online and print poetry journals to explore and to submit your writing to. (Always read submission guidelines.) To graciously accept any non acceptances as part of a writers journey (non acceptance does not necessarily deem your work unworthy.) Don’t be put off. Editors are often writers also facing their share of non acceptances. Write what you want to write. Do YOU. But do practise. If wanting some friendly, informal feedback, I would suggest a local work shop group. If looking to monetize your writing, I would suggest thinking about a side hustle to keep you in coffees as well as reduce isolation ~ it’s common for writers to have side hustles, from dog-sitting to teaching. Finally, an inspirational quote to make you sit up: ‘Don’t die with your music still inside you.’ Go! Go! Go!
11. Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment?
Sure. My full-length, debut poetry collection: Shift Happens (Read Fox Books) was released: 21 March 2020, on World Poetry Day. The live book tour was postponed, as with many live events in 2020, (love to the world…) So I am working on a piece of comic-tragic spoken word theatre: The Shift Show. I am also working on new poetry pamphlets, and have a couple of podcast guest spots coming up as well as workshops that I will be running, and some ~ watch this space…
To order a signed copy of Susan Evans’ full-length, debut poetry collection: Shift Happens
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