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.
Wombwell Rainbow Interviews
Becky Lowe is a freelance writer, poet, and a Bread and Roses Spoken Word 2020 Award winner. She is based in Swansea, Wales. Her first poetry collection, Blood and Water, is published by The Seventh Quarry Press. Advance copies can be ordered via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
- What inspired you to write poetry?
I love words – the sound of them, the shape of them, the way they feel on my tongue, whether spoken or sung. I love the ability of words to jump off the page into my head and hold me spellbound when I listen, to capture a moment or movement in time. It’s no coincidence that the word for ‘enchantment’ also means to sing – or that ‘spelling’ means to cast spells or put letters together to form words. Words are magic!
2. Who introduced you to poetry?
My parents, by reading to me and encouraging me to read. When I was very young I used to love Dr Seuss and Edward Lear’s nonsense verse. At primary school, I had a wonderful teacher called Mrs Baker who would march us all up and down the classroom reciting Captain Beaky and His Band. She understood me and would let me stop whatever I was doing to write. She used to slip me extra notebooks from the store cupboard to take home. When I was about seven, my parents took me and my brother to a poetry workshop run by Roger McGough. I remember him as this big hairy man who leapt around all over the place, reciting poems. He looked like he was enjoying himself so much, I said to myself ‘When I grow up, that’s what I want to do’.
3. How aware were you of the dominating presence of older poets?
I wouldn’t say this is a huge issue for me because I read a lot of work by up-and-coming young poets – people such as Natalie Ann Holborow, Sophie McKeand and Rufus Mufasa, whose work is fresh and exciting. That’s not to say I don’t like the more established poets too, though – we can learn so much from them. I joint-run Talisman Spoken Word open mic in Swansea with David Churchill (whose book Volcano Moon, I helped edit earlier this year). Before lockdown put a halt to live performances, we had attenders from all ages, backgrounds and cultures. Our youngest is 16 and our oldest just turned 90! I feel lucky to be living in a vibrant city. Having such a wide mix of experiences enriches us all.
4. What is your daily writing routine?
I’m constantly juggling! My creative writing is sandwiched into tiny pockets of time, in between proofreading and editing, a two-day-a-week day job, plus ferrying my daughter to and from school. Creative inspiration seems to come in sudden, short waves of energy, which often means doing some of my writing at odd hours such as the middle of the night. I don’t necessarily recommend it!
5. What motivates you to write?
A lot of the earlier poems in my new collection, Blood and Water, have been inspired by my experiences of becoming a mother for the first time. It was a life-changing experience, profound! I’m inspired by all sorts of things – a word or phrase, a moment or feeling, nature, mythology… Writing gives me a voice and a way of processing things. Social issues drive me, too. A thirst for social justice, sustainability, peace and equality. These values seep into my poetry because they’re such a deep part of me.Poetry journals are a great way to get your work out there and read writing by other up-and-coming poets. Ones I’d recommend are The Seventh Quarry, Black Bough and Poetry Wales.
6. What is your work ethic?
There’s a discipline to writing, like everything else. I find editing much easier to control, because it uses a different side of my brain. The creative part can be frustrating. I think, like everyone, I sometimes suffer times when I feel like I can’t write anything at all. I do a lot of writing exercises, like haikus or creating ‘found poems’ out of newspaper cuttings, and I read a lot. It’s like anything – the more you practice, the better you’ll get at it.
7. How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?
Certain writers go with you all the way through your life, almost like personal friends. Herman Hesse is one. I fell in love with his short stories as a student. I live in Swansea, just around the corner from where Dylan Thomas grew up and I’d be lying if I said he wasn’t a big influence. I love the way he plays with words and imagery, and his anarchic sense of humour. Angela Carter is another. I think fairytales was where it all started for me, and fiction-wise, that hasn’t changed. I’m fascinated by folklore, particularly Celtic. Since living in Wales I’ve become aware of the Bardic tradition of interweaving music with poetry. As a writer and musician, this is something I’m keen to explore.
8. Who of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?
Oh gosh, there are so many, it’s hard to know where to start! I read every poetry book I can get my hands on, from the well-known to emerging new writers. I’ve a shelf of books written by my writer friends – Tony Webb, David Churchill, Mark Lyndon, Rhoda Thomas, Tim Evans, Iqbal Malik – all incredible talents! I’ve recently discovered Fran Lock’s work and she’s phenomenal – everyone should read her!
9. Why do you write, as opposed to doing anything else?
I love it! Simple as that. I sing as well, and sometimes paint, but writing has always been my overriding passion. I can’t imagine not doing it. I think I’d go mad!
10. What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”
Don’t assume that you will earn a lot of money (you probably won’t). Don’t try to please everybody (you can’t). Don’t compare yourself to others but be the best version of yourself. Try not to take rejections personally and don’t be disheartened. Be kind to other writers and build one another up – it’s not a competition! If you can, join an open mic or a writing group, as having a community really helps keep you inspired. Take a notebook and pen everywhere. Most of all, write, write, write.
11. Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.
It’s been a crazy busy year! I have my first poetry collection, Blood and Water, being published by The Seventh Quarry Press. Copies can be ordered via email at email@example.com https://peterthebitjones.com/en/the-seventh-quarry
I also wrote a series of poems over lockdown, which is being published by Culture Matters in April. It’s called ‘Our Father Eclipse’ and is described as a ‘pseudo-apocalyptic, eco-socialist, dystopian vision’. It’s very different to what I normally write and is my attempt to make sense of a very strange time in history!
Finally, for some light relief, I co-wrote a collection of poems for primary school children with my daughter Stephanie, aged twelve, as a way of keeping us both entertained when the schools were closed. It’s called Grandmasaurus and is available on Amazon.