Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Liam Flanagan

vincent by liam flanagan

-Liam Flanagan

48 years old living in Ireland. Degree in English and Philosophy. Teaching Diploma in IT. Ten years experience working in the IT industry. Likes Sport, Music, Film and Politics. Over thirty poems published on various sites over the last two years.

The Interview

1. When and why did you start writing poetry?

I have always had an interest in writing. I have
a degree in English and Philosophy so I did a lot
of writing during my three year Arts degree. The
poetry started much more recently. I was attending
a creative writing class and just starting writing
poetry and enjoying it. I stopped writing for a while
and then when the pandemic hit I started writing
again and have been writing proficiently since.

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

Here in Ireland, English
is a subject you study from an early age. Before you leave
secondary school you are exposed to many poets such as
Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Yeats and Keats.

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

Ireland is steeped in poetic history. Contemporary poets such as Seamus Heaney
is well known as would traditional poets such as Patrick Kavanagh and Oscar Wilde.
Social media has become the medium through which I engage with most poets
and poetry now.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

I don’t really have a routine. I am a member of a
poetry group online and every Monday there is
a one word prompt to base a poem on. Sometimes
an idea comes to me straight away and other times
it could be a couple of days before I come up
with an idea for a poem. Once I do, quite often I
will write the poem in one day and then submit it
for publication.

5. What subjects motivate you to write?

A number of subjects inspire me to write.
I write about mental health for two reasons.
One is I have experience in dealing with mental
Health issues and the other is I find it beneficial
to write about how I am feeling on any particular
day. I also write about other issues such as politics
and climate change. Sometimes my poetry can
be quite humorous which gives me a lot of pleasure
if I can brighten up somebody else’s day.

6. What is your work ethic?

My work ethic is strong. I worked in the IT
industry for ten years and had to work
very hard to get to the level I reached
before retiring. I apply this work this ethic to
my writing by spending time working on a poem
and not putting it forward for publication
until I am completely happy with the poem.

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

They don’t really. I wouldn’t describe my writing as being of any particular genre
and the style of writing is not taken from or based on any other
writers work.

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

I have to hold my hands up here and admit I am not the most
avid reader of books. I used to read a lot of books but now I just
read the newspaper every day and also other poets works

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

I write because I enjoy it and I find it a means of expressing
myself. There is a lot of satisfaction derived from completing
a piece of work you are proud of and knowing the reader has
enjoyed it too.

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

Im not sure someone can ‘become’ a writer. I think some people can write
and others can’t. Sure, you can do a class or a course but if writing does not
come naturally to you I would say it is a difficult skill to learn.

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

I have applied for a government grant which will enable me to
write an a full-time basis. I should find out about that in August
so we will see what happens then. I have also recently submitted
twenty five poems to a publisher here in Ireland with a view of
getting a debut book published.

12. What is it about poetry rather than prose that appeals to you?

I think with poetry you can be quite specific about what you are writing about. I see the challenge of getting to the essence of the subject in a clear and insightful way using as little words as possible to get to the heart of the matter.

13. In your education which poets that you were introduced to attracted you most, and why?

William Butler Yeats was probably the poet I most admired. He wrote extensively on Irish myth and culture in his early works and then moved to writing about spiritualism and social issues. The versatility in his writing is what attracted me to him most.

14. How important is form in your poetry writing?

Form is important to me. A lot of my poems are only around twenty lines long. I try to keep things as concise as possible. I often use rhyme to connect one line to another or to change the pace of the poem.

15. What role does nature play in your writing?

Nature doesn’t play a huge role in my poetry. I know other poets use it as a source of inspiration and are very adept at using all the aspects of nature in a metaphorical way.

I do the same sometimes but do not use it to the same extent as others do.

16. How do you know when a poem you are writing is finished?

I know when a poem is finished when I am happy with it. Some poems come easily to me, others require research and much more work. 

17. What influence does your urban environment have on your writing?

My urban environment does have an influence on my writing. Often, I find myself writing about daily life and the grind so many have to go through just to get through the day. 

18. After reading your poetry what do you hope the reader will leave with?

It depends on the poem. If it is philosophical or political, I hope the reader would be stimulated to think about the subject matter. If it is humorous in nature then I would like to think the poem would leave the reader with a smile on their face.

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