Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Paul Tanner


He has two versions of his biography

Paul Tanner

was shortlisted for the Erbacce 2020 Poetry Prize. He is the author of “Shop Talk” (Penniless Press, 2019), “No Refunds” (Alien Buddha Press, 2020) and “Working Class Zero” (Dreich Publications, 2021).

Paul Tanner

is barely qualified for minimum wage. He’s been earning it, and writing about it, for too long. His star sign is Libido. Hobbies include pillage and colouring in. “

The Interview

  1. When and why did you start writing poetry?

Maybe tomorrow. And why the hell not, eh?

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

If I could remember, I’d be doing time.

3. How aware are and were you of the dominating presence of older poets traditional and contemporary?

I try not to be.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

Hiding in the work cubicle, scrawling on bog paper, as one of the supervisors bangs on the door.   

5. What subjects motivate you to write?

It’s revenge. Don’t believe the moral posers claiming they’re doing it for you, or this or that group – it’s always revenge.  

6. What is your work ethic?

It isn’t.

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

Hemingway: Edit.

Irvine Welsh: Be honest.

Celine: Be even more honest.

Chuck Palahniuk: Have fun.

Bret Easton Ellis: Edit more. Be even more honest. Have even more fun.  

Kafka: You’re not paranoid, you’re right.

Orwell: Actually, you are paranoid … but you’re still right.  

Bukowski: Don’t try.

The Fantes: Keep trying.

Morrissey: Look around.

John Lydon: Look around.

Burroughs: Don’t look.

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

All of us. None of us. I don’t know. Fuck it: let’s go down fighting, you crazy bastards!  

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

I don’t know and I don’t want to know.

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

Write. As obnoxious as it sounds, just write. And if you can’t, or won’t, then congratulations: you’re not a writer.

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

About 4,683 poems chewing through the inside of my skull, like an army of death moths trapped in a dusty old light bulb. You know, same as usual.

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