Re-Connecting With Nature (and cows)

Wendy Pratt is always a great read

WendyPratt

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Yesterday, as I was coming back from a nine mile hike, foot sore, weary and head emptied, I almost walked into a sparrow hawk which was perched on a gate I was about to open. I’m not sure who was more surprised. He/she had its back to me and was scanning the field for prey. I was crossing a railway line at the time and wouldn’t have been able to stop, but as I slowed down and quickly fumbled for my camera, which had conveniently gone into sleep mode, I was awed by her (let’s call her a she) simple grace and perfection. I did not get a good photo of her. I’d seen her at the beginning of my walk, when I had again surprised her hunting  on the other side of the railway. I managed to get this Nat. Geo. quality photograph that time:

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But it didn’t matter…

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Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Samantha Merz

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 two options: an emailed list of questions or a more fluid interview via messenger.
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.
Fevers

Fevers of the Mind Poetry Digest Issue 2: In Memoriam. Samantha’s Volcanoes Erupt poem is included.

Samantha Merz

Samantha’s Passion Seeker poem was published in Lean In: A Collection of Canadian Poetry by Polar Expressions Publishing in 2018. Samantha’s Queen Carola’s Parotia on the Pergola, Rusty Red Roads, Surrounded by Vibrant Sun Conures, Girl On The Green, Sultry July, Hyper-Pigmented Psychedelia, Monster Truck, Paragon Paradise, Polvo poems have been published online on Grey Thoughts in 2019. Samantha’s Volcanoes Erupt poem was published in Fevers of the Mind Poetry Digest Issue 2: In Memoriam, 2019.

Links to websites:
Twitter: @sambcmerz
Instagram: @marblemessages

The Interview

1. What inspired you to write poetry?

I was inspired to write poetry because I enjoy piecing together words or phrases to create a larger body of work or even haikus. When I would write articles, I would have to spend extra time doing research and sourcing out creative commons photos. I used to write song lyrics and even record them and set them to music. I even tried making a few music videos. However, I find writing poetry comes naturally to me. The first poem I wrote, Passion Seeker, was only twelve lines and was sitting in my drafts for a while. Eventually, I found out about Polar Expression’s Publishing Summer Poetry Contest and decided to submit it. I was thrilled to find out they wanted to publish it.

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

I was introduced to poetry in elementary school, probably when I was in grade five by my favourite teacher. I remember learning about different types of poems such as free verse, blank verse, sonnets and limericks. At the time, I was also learning about William Shakespeare and his play, Macbeth.

3. How aware were you of the dominating presence of older poets?

I was somewhat aware of the dominating presence of older poets. The legacies of Walt Whitman, Sylvia Plath, Robert Frost, Allen Ginsberg and Mary Oliver continue to influence society and I admire their work.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

I don’t write poetry everyday but I do jot down notes. Sometimes I sit at my laptop to complete a poem but I usually need to be inspired to start writing.

5. What motivates you to write?

My friends and family encourage me to continue writing. They like reading my poetry and they enjoy reading my articles. I also appreciate hearing from other people that I haven’t met in person that they enjoy reading my work.

6. What is your work ethic?

My work ethic is inconsistent, especially when it comes to writing poetry. It’s a great feeling when I have submitted a poem and it is received well.

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

The writers that I read when I was young influence me today because there is some overlap in terms of topics I touch on in my poetry. I would mainly read young adult fiction novels that would discuss teen angst, friendships, family, relationships and musings.

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

There are so many writers today that I admire due to the presence of social media and the growth of the writing community. I enjoy reading poetry by Atticus, Lana Del Rey, Carla Sofia Ferreira, Greg Santos and many others. I love reading Liscombe’s Faerie Tales: Volume 1 by Emma Windsor-Liscombe. There are so many memorable characters in the eight eerie stories. I love reading it during the summer.

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

I write because it’s a strength of mine. I know how to express myself with written words. I struggle with verbal communication, articulating my ideas and sharing my feelings. It’s something I can pick up and put down and carry out by myself. I am able to share my work with others and get feedback.

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

I would reply that it happens the moment you write something down. I find writing therapeutic. You don’t have to show anyone else your work, become published or win awards. It depends what you want out of your writing and if you have any aspirations. When I was a freelance article writer, some ideas were rejected and I would have to make a few edits before they would be published. Sometimes you have to put in more time and effort into your work.

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

I have many drafts that I still need to complete and submit for publication. Maybe I will do some audio recordings. One day, I would love to self-publish a collection of poetry and possibly add illustrations. I have been talking with a close friend about a possible collaboration involving writing and art
.

Wombwell Rainbow Photo Essays: Rachael Ikins “Poet”

Rachael Ikins photo essay poet 1

Rachael Ikins photo essay poet 2

Rachael Ikins photo essay poet 3

Rachael Ikins photo essay poet 4

Rachael Ikins

Editor, Clare Songbirds Publishing House, Auburn, NY

2018 Independent Book Award winner

2013, 2018 CNY Book Award nominee

2016, 2018 Pushcart nominee

Www.writerraebeth.wordpress.com

http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=Oq4IRbKHWYo&feature=plcp

Member CNY Chapter, National League of American Penwomen

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=HU49YgLYyxM

https://www.facebook.com/rachael.ikins

Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn

“If no answer at the door, come to the garden.”

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Eve Black

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 two options: an emailed list of questions or a more fluid interview via messenger.

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.

eve black

lips by Eve Black

My Naming by Eve Black

Eve Black

writes poems. Twitter: @Ev3diary

The Interview

1. What inspired you  to write poetry?

I started writing poetry in my teens, as a revolt against the idiotic mechanisms of the patriarchal institutions (family, school, church) into which I had been inducted against my will. The voice of the poem is the voice of desire, anger, anguish. It is a different voice, a voice no one hears most of the time. A printed or spoken poem makes it public, briefly.

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

I was quite solitary at school (I still am), and would spend break and lunch times sitting on my own in the library. One day, when I was fourteen, I chanced upon The New Poetry, A Alvarez’s anthology of confessional poets. I read Anne Sexton, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath for the first time. And that was that. When I studied for my GCSE English I had to read a well-meaning anthology of mostly dull poems, but there was one by Carol Ann Duffy I liked called “Medusa”, and that confirmed me in my interest in poetry. But I didn’t talk about it to anyone. Talking about it would have neutralised its magic.

3. How aware were you of the dominating presence of older poets?

Sexton, Plath, Eliot, Hughes were monoliths. Even though I admired them, something in me wanted to smash them too. I didn’t know much about living poets until after I left school.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

I get up very early – usually 5am – and I sit patiently, with a pen and yesterday’s newspaper. Yesterday’s news is already the stuff of legend. I underline stories and phrases that interest me (often to do with crime). Then I write lines of poetry on the newspaper, wherever there is a tiny space. WIth time, the lines grow into a poem.

5. What motivates you to write?

Public discourse is cowardly; we all say what our audience want to hear. Poetry is the opposite. That’s why I write it.

6. What is your work ethic?

If I can write, I write. If I am too exhausted or depressed, I don’t.

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

I still admire the hostile directness of writers like Plath and Sexton, the way they threaten to leap off the page and stab the reader to death. But stylistically, my work occupies a different world from theirs. I never write about myself, even when it looks as if that’s what I’m doing, so I never fall into the trap of self-idolatry you find in some of their poems. I’m not worthy of idolatry. No one is.

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

There aren’t many. Scherezade Siobhan is amazing, her words are like life forms, germinating and pollinating, riotously. Joanna Walsh is constantly expanding the possibilities of narrative prose. I also admire poets who write without consideration for what is conventional or tasteful. I enjoyed Void Voices by James Knight. But I keep going back to my favourite dead poets, Alejandra Pizarnik and Joyce Mansour. Their poems are knives, laughter, holes punched in partition walls.

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

I don’t know how to answer that.

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

By writing. A writer isn’t a special thing you become. Just write.

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

I have written and had published some short, self-contained lyric poems. I’m trying to write a longer sequence now. It’s hard, but the newspapers are helping.

 

“Stubborn Sod” , a new book by Marcel Herms (front cover and internal art) and myself (poetry), available now. Anyone wishing to review it please email or DM me.

Stubborn Sod

 

 

Enter her grove barefoot,
no leather here,
no blood sacrifices
done.

Offer her honeyed milk,
not wine. Offer water to wash,
olive oil, salt, honey, coarse meal,
sweet scented flowers,
cakes drizzled with honey,
soothing herbs, especially
those of childbirth

and breast-feeding,
rue, malva, and salvia,
perhaps a special dish
of cheese and herbs.

She is a presence.

Stubborn Sod by Paul Brookes & Marcel Herms https://www.amazon.com/dp/1686132387/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_U_x_nuAvDbCHY8Y73 via @amazon

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Aziz Nazmi Shakir

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 two options: an emailed list of questions or a more fluid interview via messenger.

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.

Aziz Nazmi Shakir

was born (1973) in Smolian, a Bulgarian town situated in the Rhodope Mountains associated with the legendary musician and poet Orpheus. There, as a student at the Language High School, he started writing and publishing poetry. Later, at the Arabic Philology and Turkish Language and Literature departments of Sofia University, besides his poetry collection ‘Grounds for a Sky’ (1993), he added to his literary activities a number of poetry and novel translations from Arabic and Turkish language. Subsequently Aziz continued his lyrical and academic career on a parallel basis. While dealing with a Ph.D. thesis at the History of Sciences Department of Istanbul University he published his second poetry book ‘At the Age of 22’ (2004). Later as a faculty member of Sabanci University in Istanbul he authored a third poetry collection called ‘A Sky at 33’ (2007) and a collection of short stories titled ‘Rain Apocrypha’ (2007). Thanks to the latter, he won a grant to join the 40th International Writing Program in USA, where he participated in a series of reading performances in: The Library of Congress (Washington), the Chicago Writers’ Guild Complex at Chopin Theater (Chicago); Northwestern University (Evanston), Prairie Lights Library in Iowa etc. Most recently Aziz published ‘A Circumnavigation of the Absence’ (2017), a volume including poems in Bulgarian, Turkish and English.

https://iwp.uiowa.edu/sites/iwp/files/IWP2007_Shakir-Tash_aziz_sample.pdf

“From One Sky to Another” by Aziz Tash – Pass By Here

“From One Sky to Another” by Aziz Tash – Pass By Here

BeLanguage| Best WordPress theme for language schools

https://openaccess.leidenuniv.nl/bitstream/handle/1887/16995/ISIM_16_A_Muslim_Voice_in_Bulgarian_Poetry.pdf?sequence=1

https://www.jenatadnes.com/poeziya/stihove-ot-azis-shakir-tash/

Азиз Таш – Открита литература

Азиз Таш – Открита литература

Споделено пространство за художествена литература, литературна критика, теория на културата и литературата. Мяс…

THE 9TH EDITION OF THE INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL PULARA, IPOH, MALAYSIA | School of Languages

1. What inspired you to write poetry?

My first inspiration was a high school Mathematics teacher. As you can guess I used poetry to work through my frustration towards her. Later on I found out that looking or waiting for an inspiration results in a tremendous loss of time and hence, of verses, and started to produce my own grounds for writing.

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

I recall listening to poems at the age of four or five as part of my kindergarten curriculum in my birth town Smolian. When I was 14, I participated in a competition dedicated to my high school patron Ivan Vazov with an English translation of one of his classical poems. The jury was chaired by Hristo Stoyanov, a Bulgarian poet, notorious for his constant scandals with the local intellectual circles. Impressed by my first poetical steps, the latter invited me to a creative writing course headed by him. There I met a group of talented people, who learned from each other how to write and how not to write

3. How aware were you of the dominating presence of older poets?

Thanks to the above mentioned course I started regularly travelling to the capital city, Sofia and meeting there some well-known poets, not only in verse, but also in person. Little by little, I began realizing that some of the most celebrated poets in the country, were not as ideal as an unbiased reader would assume. The greatest benefit of this type of awareness was that very soon the old poets’ presence became less dominant. Simultaneously, the cults created by the textbooks and the literary media were disrupted too.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

I don’t write poetry on daily basis. It is not a sport after all. I guess regularity is important for some of my colleagues, but even if this is the case, such authors should not flood their readers with all of their production. Please, ask me the question again when I start writing a novel!

5. What motivates you to write?

Motivation changes in accordance with the age, the mentality and the present mood of the writer. Sometimes it is better to leave it anonymous. Some readers would maybe hate favorite authors, if they knew what motivated the latter to write certain masterpieces. Besides “classical” motivators like amour propre and common vanity, it is good to be incited by a certain cause, to know that your text will save (or at least will try to change for good) a life, a feeling or make someone smile. Motivation for reading is as important as motivation for writing, thus I as an author should use my “pre-position” to attract readers’ attention. This process itself functions as an additional motivation for writing.

6. What is your work ethic?

То restrain from all kinds of plagiarism; to be original, but not necessarily for the sake of selling your books or your soul. If I happen to be part of a team, team ethics should be applied.

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

Back then the influence of the newly read writers was much greater and more direct. Being influenced in the right way is a blessing, nevertheless it turns into a curse when the writing reader falls short of transforming this influence into a mere ingredient used in the manufacturing of a brand new product. Once you get rid of the dominance of the authors you admire, you start finding the path to your own style, and all favorite books read from your earliest age onwards, start a constructive influence you are mostly unaware of.

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

Nowadays I strongly try to avoid all kinds of admiration. Admiration often is dangerous and blasphemous. Are the late Emily Dickinson (1830-1886), Nikos Kazantzakis (1883-1957), Emiliyan Stanev (1907-1979), Cemal Süreya (1931-1990) and Costas Montis (1914-2004) considered today’s authors? No matter if they are physically dead or alive, all authors whose texts are part of my day, are today’s for me. In this sense I can include in my list the names of Li Po (701-762), Abuʾl-Qasim Ferdowsy (c. 940–1020), Jalal ad-Din Rumi (1207-1273), Yunus Emre (1240-1321), Fuzuli (1483-1556), Muhibbi (1495-1556), Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931), İhsan Oktay Anar (b. 1960). If I give a satisfactory answer to the “why” part of your question, the size of the interview will triple, so very briefly: these men and women of letters hold keys to different rooms of my soul and body, which sometimes stay locked for years. There are even such that I become aware of only after they are being unlocked. This leads to the idea that all of us are sharing some cyphered codes and literature grants an abundance of universal passwords catalyzing specific functions of the brain related to our spiritual growth or decline.

9. Why do you write?

I guess from my earliest age I was “indoctrinated” by the primary school curriculum in Bulgaria that a writer is a very important person. The literature lessons usually would introduce him as a superman: Besides writing masterpieces worth entering our textbooks, he fought as a hero in some wars, acted as a journalist and propagandized progressive ideas, craved for all sorts of humanitarian causes etc. So when I started facing social injustices in my fragile youth, my first poems came as a natural reaction aimed at criticizing and mocking some of my teachers as sources of unfairness and biased prejudices. I might have subconsciously tried to copy the behavioral model of the hero-writers from the textbooks. Later writing became for me a way of running away from the transitory earthly matters. This coincided with my first publications in the central literary press and the feeling that “writing is my thing”. Now I had an additional reason to write: more and more people, who had read my texts contacted me and provided me encouraging feedbacks. My ego was on the rise. The next stage was finding the golden middle between the supposed expectations of the readers and the “writing for the sake of writing”. Now writing is part of my way to answer myself “why do I write”.

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

If I find this someone sympathetic enough, I will say: “It is a long story”, and on my turn, I will ask a full set of questions, and If his/her answers convince me that he or she deserves it, I will exert efforts not only to explain, but also (if this is the case) to practically support a future writer-to-be. Generally speaking, beside all other conditions as being talented and to know well how to read and write, to become an author one needs to know grammar.

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

“Project” sounds to me as something tremendous involving a group of professionals driven by an original idea strong enough to suppress their egos and bring them together. If I receive an invitation to participate in such a venture, I shall definitely love to be part of it. Nevertheless, if by “projects” my personal writing intentions are meant, they include a novel dedicated to children with developmental problems and their parents, who yearn for less problematical successors by struggling with bureaucracy, institutions, and most of all with themselves and their own complexes and phobias. Actually in most of the cases such parents tend to be more problematical than their children. Since translating involves plenty of writing and the translations have a copyright, I also have a couple of novel translations from the Turkish into Bulgarian language to finish and publish in the months to come.

 

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Glynn Young

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 two options: an emailed list of questions or a more fluid interview via messenger.

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.

Dancing Prophet cover

Glynn Young

worked in Corporate Public Relations for two Fortune 500 companies, for whom he earned several national speechwriting and public relations awards. He is the author of four novels, Dancing Priest, A Light Shining, Dancing King, and Dancing Prophet, and the non-fiction book Poetry at Work. He is also an editor at Tweetspeak Poetry and Literary Life. He and his family live in St. Louis.
Blog: http://faithfictionfriends.blogspot.com Web site: http://dancingpriest.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/glynn.young
Twitter: http://twitter.com/gyoung9751
Instagram: http://instagram.com/gyoung9751
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/glynnyoung/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/glynnyoung/

The Interview

1. What inspired you to write poetry?

Like most people in their teens, I wrote a lot of really bad poetry. And then I didn’t write any at all for the next 40 years. Or I thought I didn’t. What happened was that I became a corporate speechwriter. That led inevitably to poetry – poetry began as the spoken word. I began to writer poetry seriously about 10 years ago, when, as part of a conversation on Twitter, I wrote and posted a short poem.

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

A good friend told me that if I was serious about being a speechwriter, I had to read poetry, and specifically three of the great moderns – T.S. Eliot, Dylan Thomas, and Wallace Stevens. He gave me a “collected books” of each – and it changed my career. Quite a few corporate executives don’t know that some of their best speeches were inspired by those poets.

3. How aware were you of the dominating presence of older poets?

I don’t think I ever thought in terms of “dominating” older poets. In grade school, we learned poems like “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.” In high school, we studied Eliot, Frost, Emily Dickinson, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Sara Teasdale, Edgar Lee Masters, Edwin Arlington Robinson, and Walt Whitman. In college, I studied British literature, and got a healthy dose of the Romantic poets, Shakespeare’s sonnets, Chaucer, Thomas Hardy, and others.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

My routine is to find time to write whenever I can find time to write. It’s usually the early morning and late evening hours.

5. What motivates you to write?

My first attempt at writing (that I remember) was in fifth grade, when I tried to write a mystery story. I didn’t think of myself as a “writer” until I was in college, although I was one of the few (very few) people who enjoyed writing themes, essays, and reports for English Composition and English Lit. Writing has been an essential part of who I am for a very long time, including through my entire professional career.

6. What is your work ethic?

I was raised in a family that believed in working hard. It was likely the familiar “Protestant work ethic,” but it wasn’t a “hard work gets to you to heaven” concept. Instead, it was more “hard work is its own reward.”

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

I started out with mysteries – the first book I bought for myself when I was seven was “Trixie Belden and the Secret of the Mansion.” I loved the Hardy Boys, and then graduated to Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie. I still enjoy reading the mysteries of the Golden Age – the period from the 1920s through the 1940s when some of the greatest mysteries of all time were written.

As for literary and more serious fiction, I still read Charles Dickens. I read “A Tale of Two Cities” and “Great Expectations” when I was 13 and 14, respectively. I recently reread both, along with “Oliver Twist” and “David Copperfield.” I love the sweep of Dickens’ stories. And he drew incredibly vivid and memorable characters.

I also just reread “The Scarlet Letter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne, and it was nothing like the book I remembered from high school. It’s not a book about how mean the old Puritans were, but a story about the internal conflicts people experience, what they sacrifice for appearances sake, and how revenge destroys both victim and avenger.

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

For fiction, I like the British writer Mark Haddon, best known for “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time” but with several novels and a short story collection that are excellent. I also like Anthony Doerr; his “All the Light We Cannot See” is a marvel. Two historical fiction authors who are outstanding storytellers are Hilary Mantel (“Wolf Hall”) and Annie Whitehead (“To Be a Queen”). In poetry, I like James Matthew Wilson, who writes beautiful formalist poetry, and Benjamin Myers, whose recent “Black Sunday” makes you believe you’re living in the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. And Robin Robertson’s “The Long Take” is a noir novel of Los Angeles written in poetic form; I love how he uses poetry to tell the kind of story told by Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, and James M. Cain. My favorite contemporary mystery writers, Louise Penny, Ann Cleeves, and William Brodrick, write mystery stories that read like novels.

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

Writing is like breathing and eating for me. There’s something else besides writing?

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

Writers, before they are writers, are readers. I became a writer because I read widely, broadly, and deeply. I became a writer because I trained as a journalist. I became a writer because I was working on a public issue for a company, and someone needed a speech on the topic. I suppose all of those things together say I became a writer by inclination, training, and opportunity.

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

I’m working on my fifth novel; it’s part of my Dancing Priest series and will likely be the last in that line of stories. The draft is done and I’m going through my own editing process before I send it to the publisher. I’m also researching the Civil War; my great-grandfather enlisted when he was underage and was turned into a messenger boy. What happened to him at the end of the war is fascinating and something of a family legend.

I also review poetry weekly for Tweetspeak Poetry (http://www.tweetspeakpoetry.com) and write on various topics for an online journal called Literary Life (http://literarylife.org).

On Plays/Short Stories Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Soji Cole

On Plays/Short Stories 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 two options: an emailed list of questions or a more fluid interview via messenger.
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.

Embers

 

Soji Cole. PhD

Performance/Theatre Studies and Research, Performance as Research, Drama Therapy, Trauma Studies, Cultural Memory in Post-Colonial Dramas and Films, Diversity Studies, Creative Writing.

• Winner of the NLNG NIGERIA PRIZE FOR LITERATURE (2018)
• Visiting Research Scholar (Centre for Arts Research and Creative Exchange), University of Roehampton, London, UK. (2018)
• Diversity Studies International Teaching and Scholarship Network Fellow (2013 & 2017)
• Fulbright Research Scholar (2014-15)
• Winner of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) Playwriting Prize (2014)
• Winner of the International Federation for Theatre Research (IFTR) ‘New Scholars’ Prize’ (2013)
• Winner of the African Theatre Association (AfTA) ‘Emerging Scholars’ Prize (2011)

The Interview

1. What inspired you to write plays/short stories?

ANS: Old stories, comics and cartoons that I read when I was in elementary school were my foetal inspirations. I grew in them. I tool fancy flights in them through my imaginations whenever I read them. I could remember ‘Chike and the River’ by Chinua Achebe, a lot of Enid Blyton stories, ‘Tintin’ cartoons, ‘Austerix and Obelix’ and a whole lot of others. I gulped them down voraciously and they became the inspiration which triggered my writing sense. And moreso, I had a difficult time growing as an orphan so those books provided me with some sort of escape.

2. Who introduced you to plays/short stories?

ANS: In my lower secondary school I had my seat beside a small-sized girl who could make beautiful character drawings and cartoons. I thought I could do the same too but when I tried I found that my drawing could only be compared with scratches of a chicken feet scrambled on pure sand. I decided to just write my story without drawing. That was the introduction to my writing plays and stories.

3. How aware were you of the dominating presence of older playwrights/fiction writers?

ANS: Oh I was quite aware of their presence. We were nurtured on these prominent older figures, and their prominence overwhelms us whenever we study them. At some points I got angry that I was being fed the same cuisine all over. I began to have introspection. This writing thing is like doing business. You can’t ask an older wealthy business man to retire because you want to be wealthy too. The ground is too large and will accommodate all of us. I felt we need to engage them in some sort of healthy generational competition. And I think that is what the younger generation of writers across Africa are doing now.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

ANS: I don’t write daily. It is unfortunate. In Nigeria – and almost in the entire African continent, it is hard to cast yourself as a full-time writer. We don’t have the type of literary set-up that some other countries have. So what we do is to pick up a job, at least for subsistence (or survival), and then write as pastime. I would have a daily writing routine only if I were a core full-time writer. Here, we deal more with the burden of living than of writing. And I think that makes us fantastic – because we are resilient!

5. What motivates you to write?

ANS: My environment mainly. And when I say my environment I mean from the minutest immediate surroundings to the whole world. Issues of humanity propels me to want to write. There are many good things to write about the world – good things that people willingly bypass or are ignorant to see. There are many bad things to write about the world – bad things that are not being redressed because they suffer attention and pretensions. Those things are materials that motivate me to write.

6. What is your work ethic?

ANS: My work ethic is not static. But in every work I do I try to be as honest as I can and then I attempt to justify my conscience. I have been in a few trouble with some authorities because of my work. And I believe I will still continue to be.

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

ANS: Oh I read a lot of fantastic stories while growing up. So I guess the biggest influence when I was way younger was the story. Great stories transport me. As I attain some level of adulthood I came to believe that how language is manipulated to tell the story is more important than the story itself. Fortunately I was already weaned on the storytelling. So these days I try to manage a great story with beautiful language when I write.

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

ANS: Well, if you were to ask who is the writer that I admire most I would say Henrik Ibsen. But you have put a clause in the question which means you are referring to more contemporary writers. I think I love Chigozie Obioma and Arundhati Roy. On the same level. They have this sublime use of language to convey their beautiful stories.

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

ANS: I enjoyed it. If I were given an opportunity that’s the only thing I’ll do. It gives me joy to see that I have the power to create a world by myself. To create some sort of unrestrained happiness and justified sorrow. To create characters and kill them off as I wish. To toy with the emotion of potential readers just in a bid to gauge the humanity in all of us.

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

ANS: I’ll probably ask the person; ‘how do you cook’? As humans we all probably have the instinct to know how to cook. Some took strong fancy for it while some feel it’s not part of what they wish to know. Those who took likings for it have different aspirations for doing so. While some just want to learn to be able to cook for themselves and probably their family, some others aspire to be professional chefs. In the end when we ask who the real cook is we know who we are referring. That is the way I am still learning to be a writer, and that is how I’ll answer such question.

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

ANS: None. I have some ideas I am flirting with but they have not developed into anything worth writing on. Like I said earlier, we keep other jobs here as writers and the jobs take their toll on us. But then, I am hoping that by the end of the year one of the ideas would have fully ferment and then I can go ahead with the processing.

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Kiley Lee

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 two options: an emailed list of questions or a more fluid interview via messenger.

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.

Kiley Lee

Kiley Lee

is an artist and writer from Almost Heaven, West Virginia. Her poems have appeared in Anti-Heroin Chic, Ghost City Review, Marias at Sampaguitas, Mojave Heart Review, Animal Heart Press, and Dancing Girl Press among others, and she is currently working on her first chapbook. Her drawings and paintings have been showcased on various online platforms and shown in multiple exhibitions at the Monongalia Arts Center in Morgantown, WV. She lives with her husband, Toby, and her cat and dogs, Charlie, Jupiter, and Sadie, near the majestic Ohio River.

Website:

https://legendcitycollective.wordpress.com/

Social Media:

Twitter – @KBogart10

Instagram – @kileylee.writing & @kileylee.art

The Interview

1. What inspired you to write poetry?

I first started writing poetry as a child. My mother had a library in her bedroom that I used to look through, and when she read me “The Lady of Shalott” by Tennyson for the first time, I was completely enamored. I enjoyed reading, but this new form of writing was fantastical to my young mind. Now, I write poetry because it’s my favorite form of writing. I use it to process the world around me.

1.1 What “enamoured” you in Tennyson?

I guess the musical quality of the words was what captured me initially. The precise images, the rhyming. It was so fun to read aloud. The story is lovely in its own right as well, but realizing that words could sing without music was what really attracted me to poetry. It’s something I’m still conscious of to this day.

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

Vaguely. I know parts of the Western canon, but I don’t consider them a standard. I’m a college drop-out, so I never had to experience any particular era or school of thought being forced on me. I follow wherever my curiosity leads. As far as contemporary poetry is concerned, I rarely know the names or faces of academically prestigious poets, but the exclusivity of class is something I’m VERY aware of. And unfortunately, I think that’s something that is, even if ignorantly, perpetuated by some dominating literary circles.

3. What is your daily writing routine?

I’m always absorbing. Feelings. Light. Sound. Not everyday is a day of output for me. Sometimes my entire day is just observing and reacting. So even if I’m not actively creating every day, some part of me is engaging and remembering for later access. Routine is not something I’m very familiar with unfortunately.

4. What motivates you to write?

Hmm, I think I just want to see more beautiful things in the world. I guess that sounds kind of vain, but I do hope that someone finds comfort or solace from something I’ve created. I also think art is just another means of communication, and like Donald Winnicott wrote, “Artists are people driven by the tension between the desire to communicate and the desire to hide.”
5.  How do the writers/artists you read and saw when you were young influence you today?

I think the artists around me as a kid really ingrained the idea of story in me, in whatever capacity they could, and I think I take that idea now and just try to translate something out of it. I try to be specific about my experiences in a way that’s not totally revealing, or controlling. I would rather leave the conversation between the art and the viewer.

6.  Who of today’s writers/artists do you admire the most and why?

I admire the writers who give. Generosity seems so rare now, and those writers who give their time and resources to lift others up, those are the ones who shine in my eyes. I appreciate and cherish the support I’ve found in the Legend City Collective specifically. They are a group of passionate people who are speaking beautiful things into this world. And if I must actually name a single writer, then I’d have to choose Marie Howe. I found her poetry during a very important period of my life, and I would absolutely fan girl if I saw her in real life.

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

Write this down and hang it up where you’ll see it often:

Talent is a pursued interest. Anything that you’re willing to practice, you can do.” – Bob Ross

And also, to pay attention. It’s very easy to be lulled to sleep and miss the magnificent.

8. Tell me about the writing/art projects you have on at the moment.

No specific projects at the moment. I’ve been putting together a chapbook for a while now, so hopefully I’ll have that completed soon.