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.
Philip Dawson Hammond
Philip Dawson-Hammond was born in 1959, in the industrial mill-town of Dewsbury, West Yorkshire.
The son of a shopkeeper, Philip was educated at Highfield Grammar School in Wakefield, and later at Leeds College of Technology, where he qualified as a machine printer.
However, he has previously spent over thirty years in the local newspaper trade, both on production and in an editorial capacity as a regular columnist and feature writer for a series of provincial titles.
Since starting to write at the age of sixteen, Philip has developed a style of his own, covering a rich variation of subject matter, which he feels has resulted in the discovering of his own individual voice within the diversity of modern verse.
Philip is married with one grown-up son, and now lives with Cathy, his wife of five years, in Sprotbrough, South Yorkshire.
- What inspired you to write poetry?
I think it was during that long hot summer of 1976 when I was studying at Wakefield College of Technology. I was hoping to get into some sort of publishing, though I didn’t yet know into which exact area I wanted to be. However, the college did have a very well stashed library, something I was quick to take advantage of. It was there I stumbled across the Merseybeat poets. Roger McGough, Brian Pattern and Adrian Henry wrote in styles I had never even imagined existed. It was quite an Epiphany for me. Admittedly I had already dabbled in the classics, and was very much aware of poetry as a means of expression, though it wasn’t until around this time that I had any inclination to write it myself. Interestingly, only one poem still exists from this period, and is about to be published in ‘ Out of Mind’, over forty-five years later.
2. Who introduced you to poetry?
It wasn’t a person – it was a place: Tennyson Down on the Isle of Wight during the August of 1972. Like I said, I had dabbled in the classics from an early age. I was twelve-year’s-old, and very impressionable. Tennyson appears to haunt this very atmospheric Western tip of the island, and I was on a mission to learn more about the place. And the poetry of Alfred Lord Tennyson seemed to be the quickest route to take.
3. How aware were you of the dominating presence of older poets?
Never really thought of it. I remember buying a copy of John Betjerman’s Collected Poem. I think, by this time, I must have been around eighteen, and Betjerman, to me then, was very much the ‘elder statesman of English poetry.
4. What is your daily writing routine?
Don’t have one. Having said this – I wish I had. It would be so convenient….!!
5. What motivates you to write?
The need to proverbially keep my head above water. I am constantly in fear of letting an idea slip me by. I don’t have a great memory, and I constantly feel the need to scribble things down before I forget them. These so called ‘things’ could simply be an opening line to a new poem, a rhyming couplet or an original idea (or, at least, original to me).
6. What is your work ethic?
Write as much as you can, when you can, and as often as you can. And then throw as much of it away – as you can.
7. How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?
Not many, I don’t think – not now, though I’m sure they did before finding my own voice. If I had to mention any, I would point to the ones already mentioned above, plus Dylan Thomas and Leonard Cohen.
8. Who of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?
There are many. Keeping it confined to poets exclusively, though, I would say Bob Dylan, Ian Parks and Simon Armitage.
9. Why do you write?
10. What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”
11. Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.
Probably more now than any one time in my life. This interview is one of them, of course. My collected poems, ‘ Out of Mind’ is due for publication on the 26th. of this month. I don’t wish to announce details of other ongoing projects, as they are not guaranteed to be seen through to fruition at this moment in time.
Thank you for reading, Philip Dawson-Hammond.