Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Daniel Fraser

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.

Daniel Fraser website

Daniel Fraser

is a writer from Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire. His poetry and prose have featured in: LA Review of BooksAeonAcumenX-R-A-YEntropyThe London Magazine, and Dublin Review of Books among others. He was awarded 3rd prize in The London Magazine 2019 Poetry Competition. Twitter @oubliette_mag.

Here is a website link: https://danieljamesfraser.wordpress.com/

The Interview

1, When and why did you start writing poetry?

Like many people I suppose I started writing poetry when I was a teenager, partly as a way to deal with the difficult time I was having and also because it was the time when the world of literature first started to open up for me. At school, early on I had always been more interested in science and mathematics but then something started to shift. Reading and literature became increasingly central to how I reacted to and responded to what I was experiencing and writing poetry became part of the way I tried to express that change. Back then it was little more than a kind of psychic effusion, a mess of borrowings and moods. I did not begin writing seriously until I was 24 or 25; I spent much of my early adulthood ‘gathering material’ is the most charitable way I could put it. I was, I think, almost 30 before my poetry found the first grains of what it was (and still is) looking for.

1.1. Were there any writers you were drawn to in this early period?

The first things I picked up were Rimbaud and Baudelaire, which I took from my Dad’s shelves, and Sylvia Plath, who was buried very near where I am from. Her poem ‘Hardcastle Crags’ is still my favourite poem about the area. There was Bukowski too, inevitably, and some Beat stuff; my Dad gave me a copy of A Coney Island of the Mind which I read over and over again.
Then Eliot, which was completely transformative for me. Reading Four Quartets then felt almost alien in a way that made me want to find out why.

1.2. How was Eliot transformative?

I suppose it was the odd sensation of closeness and distance I got from reading Four Quartets, familiar and unsettling at once (without wanting to get too Freudian).

The poems were written in language I knew and understood, much of their rhythms and allusions were not so far beyond me, but somehow there was something infinitely puzzling about them.

Each time I tried to get hold of certain parts or phrases, others eluded me completely.

More than this, the poems themselves seemed to be trying to reflect on this problem, questioning their own presence, their form.

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

I’m not sure I gave it much thought. I was simply reading whatever was close to hand.

[Sorry that’s not a very good answer!]

2.1. What came close to hand?

I suppose in that second phase of reading I was drawn to a lot of translated poetry.

I read Vallejo, Neruda, Rilke, Tsvetaeva. This was when I first starting reading Shakespeare too. I remember reading Bolaño back then, one of literature’s great name-droppers, and seeking out some of the poets he mentions: like Gonzalo Rojas.

My dad was (and still is) running a secondhand bookshop, and so there was always interesting stuff around, though not for too long! He always gets nervous when I go to visit, in case I start trying to steal the stock.

Both my parents were dealers of secondhand stuff actually: my mum sold antiques and pictures and other bits and pieces, so everything in our house was on a constant carousel. I rebelled there, I’m a hoarder. Books everywhere. Bits of paper with notes on, receipts, tickets.

2.2. A second hand bookshop must have been a treasure trove.

It was! I’m very thankful for it (even if it partially led to me hoarder tendencies!).

3. What is your daily writing routine?

I still find it difficult to settle into anything like a routine, particularly with work and various other commitments. I set myself a daily minimum of 30 pages of reading and 30 minutes of writing which gives me something easily attainable on days when I’m struggling and leaves scope for writing to swallow the whole day when it needs to.

I don’t have any fixed hours, I don’t find myself being particularly a ‘morning’ or a ‘night’ person but I do find different spaces suitable for different kinds of work. For inspiration and initial creative efforts I find background noise, particularly cafe noise and transport sounds, being on a train or a bus, very helpful; which is probably why so much of my writing starts out life on scraps of paper. Editing and re-writing are firmly indoor activities: at home, plenty of coffee and silence.

3.1 What subjects are you especially motivated to write about?

Good question! At a general level, a lot of the time it feels random, what comes. Things start with a mood or an experience.
There is that great line Geoffrey Hill borrows from David Bomberg about ‘grasping mood through structure’. I still go back to that often. If I start with the idea, with something too structural, then the work is often harder, and easier to abandon somehow.

More specifically, there is a good deal of my home landscape of West Yorkshire in the poems: waste grounds and industrial premises as much as mills, thick woods, and moors.

My philosophical reading also finds its way in there, though only as a trace, a chunk of mica in the sediment: Marx especially, in the ideas of history, of nature and of work, but also Blanchot, Benjamin, Kristeva, Malabou.

I also find much of my poetry bears marks of awareness of their construction, of its status as poem, a kind of uncertainty. I feel like this uncertainty is an important part of what allows literature, and poetry, to live, to keep moving across time. The gap between language and experience is always there, however we might try to cover or cross it.

Besides, as human beings we have to question the meaning of our existence and the effect of our words constantly, I don’t see why poems should be let off the hook in this regard.

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

They are all part of the ‘poetic sediment’ that builds up of course, though it can be difficult to identify specific influence. In general, there is too a kind of affective memory, where the particular emotive response generated by reading those poets at certain points in my life re-emerges when working. More specifically, I certainly think encountering a lot of translated poetry early on introduced me to unusual rhythms and forms, and gave me confidence to allow some of more experimental impulses into my work.
In practical terms, when working on a poem, one often finds a particular image or shape is being pulled in several directions at once: toward the lyric, the surreal, the modernist, the commonplace and so on. And these forces or tensions are naturally shaped by previous poetic reading. So, whilst I might not be able to say ‘there was an element of Plath in this phrase’ or ‘I found this image in Vallejo’ (beyond those poems which are designed to speak directly to another poem or poet and where certain phrases might be directly adopted and acknowledged as such), all of what we read forms part of the murmur from which the work develops.

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

Thanks for this question Paul. A lot to choose from! I shall limit myself to poets because the list will be long (and incomplete) enough as it is but, the ones that immediately come to mind are: Karen Solie, Michael Hofmann, Rory Waterman, Vahni Capildeo, Anne Carson, Fred Moten, Ocean Vuong, and two recent losses to the category of contemporary: Geoffrey Hill and Sean Bonney.
Solie for the blend of philosophical and colloquial, of industrial and natural, that make her one of the best poets of work and material labour as well as of nature and landscape. Her concern of how these two are formed and forming one another, the economy of natural history, makes her work something I return to on an almost daily basis. Hofmann has been one of my favourite poets for a long time. His voice, piercing, literary, and often extremely funny, cuts out wonderful poems from moments of awkwardness, failure, and misunderstanding that manage to be both superbly readable and endlessly re-readable. Alongside Solie he is the poet whose work I most often give as a gift.

In Vuong, there is something in the way that the finished poem still feels cut raw, the images being wild/surprising but somehow not out of place. I have re-read Night Sky with Exit Wounds probably five times and found new favourite moments each time. Waterman I admire, perhaps, for working from the opposite direction: where what is strange and special rises slowly from below a seemingly familiar surface. His grasp and twist of the everyday can be extraordinary. Like the title of his book Sarajevo Roses he often draws beauty from small wounds, repairing them not by attempting to ignore or cover them but rather by deepening their significance.

Moten for his theoretical depth and political commitment; and for giving some of the best live readings I’ve ever experienced. He is someone who’s ability to shape language and rhythm to his own ends seems almost limitless. Capildeo (another wonderful reader of poetry) for a plurivocalism and formal experimentation that can only inspire awe and admiration, capable both of narrative ‘epic’ and tightly wound images that explore the shapes of individual words, forcing a recognition of the material weight of sound in the mouth. Bonney: again for his political commitment, and for developing a kind of communist metaphysics from the French tradition, particularly Rimbaud. His polemics manage to avoid being either dull or arbitrarily experimental but, like the best invocations, are memorable, rousing, moving.

Hill not only for poetry, but for his writing about poetry. His Oxford lectures and entry in the famous Paris Review ‘Art of Poetry’ series are incredibly rich sources of inspiration and poetic-thinking. As for the poems, Canaan in particular remains one of the most incredible books of poetry I’ve ever read, where his frighteningly powerful sense of time, of the present and its deep history, is at its most acute. He is a poet of Benjamin’s catastrophe, of the paradox of urgency and century.

Carson, on the other hand, seems to be writing ancient myths for a future world that’s still to come.

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

The short answer I suppose is that I have to. The long answer is very difficult to pin down and may sound convoluted but here are a few notes which fumble towards an answer:

Our experience of the world is narrated all the time both by the structures of language by which the conflation of word and object becomes naturalised and the structures of power which naturalise historically created institutions and ideas.

The only way the world can become, in any lasting sense, genuinely liveable requires a radical shift both in the way we understand wealth and the way we understand being human; a transformative opening out of the restrictive and broken modes of social being which capital currently offers us.

Whether writing or poetry can form a small part of pointing the way to these things, resisting the realist narrative by which the world comes to us, allowing us to think about different ways of being, creating moments of experiencing different temporalities, and so on, I don’t know. But I think the best writing tries to find out, even if its quest is a doomed one.

Writing can certainly lead us to think again about the discomforting, uncanny character of life, of the places where the communicative aspect of language shuts down (mourning and trauma for instance), making us more attentive to the fissures of a world that presents itself as whole. In this way, I do think political activity and literature share some ground in their attempt to critique reality, and in both cases doing so effectively means to be self-critical: that is, to be critical of both the reality from which they are created and the realities which they create. In both cases our relationship should always be unsettled and uncertain: fetishism (whether it be for an element of doctrine or a cultish appreciation of the sentence) is toxic. And yet, criticism cannot collapse into relativism: in the end something must be said, must be believed in. This is part of what makes things so difficult, and why nihilism is often so close at hand.

R.P. Blackmur’s quote about the best poetry ‘adding to the stock of available reality’ is perhaps too grand a claim, and is still couched in the language of the commodity, but something like that, an opening of possibility, is worth fighting for, and failing to reach, again and again.

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

I can only respond with cliches for this one I think, but I find them useful nonetheless:

Read, read, read, write, write, write.
Attention to the strange spaces of experience and language is the most important thing. Commitment to the object, to what you are writing about, is the second.
Don’t listen to too much writing advice. Use what helps you, if it helps you.
Don’t be afraid to keep everything.
Don’t be afraid to throw everything away.
Always have a pen/dictaphone/notes app to hand. Leave pens in the shower if you have to.
Don’t be afraid of cliche. It takes more skill to push a cliche into new ground than it does to experiment arbitrarily.
Writing is hard. It should be.

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

I’m currently gathering together my essays on literature and cinema and re-working them into a book manuscript, and putting together a book of short fiction. In 2021 I will begin my PhD Scholarship at University College Cork, looking at trauma as a category of historical experience. In between I’ll obviously keep working towards a first poetry collection. Hoping to fit eating and sleeping in there too somewhere!

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: David Hanlon

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.

David Hanlon Spectrum

David Hanlon

is a confessional poet from Cardiff, now living in Cardiff, Wales. He is a Best of the Net nominee. You can find his work online in over 40 online magazines. His first chapbook Spectrum of Flight is available for purchase now at Animal Heart Press. You can follow him on twitter @DavidHanlon13

The Interview

1. What inspired you to write poetry?

It was only four and a half years ago that I began to write poetry. I never really understood it in school and college. In a formal education setting I found it intimidating and impenetrable. Today, I feel incredibly different about poetry, I find it to be wondrous and healing. Poetry possesses a power like no other. My entry into poetry, then, and inspiration, came after I experienced a harrowing and debilitating depression in my late twenties. This experience was truly awful, but even the worst hardships can give us gifts we never expected. Finding poetry was one of these precious gifts I received. After coming out of my depression, I felt a strong desire to write about my experience to better understand and make sense of it. Also, to work through the feelings I was left with in the aftermath of this experience and in finding recovery. I was completely fascinated by the fact that I had somehow got through this unthinkable period of hardship, and that I had come out of it stronger and more resilient than I ever was. These facts still retain a lot of their mystery, and it is this mystery that compelled me to write, to try to solve and understand the workings of such extraordinary mystical truths. I began writing, not knowing these scribbles would turn into poems, and the words just seemed to hit the page in a poetic way. Short sentences and metaphors seemed to be the tools that brought me closer to my experience.

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

At this stage I began researching poetry online and came across a contemporary poet: Andrew McMillan. I read a couple of his poems online and they really spoke to me. McMillan explores masculinity and sexuality in a bold and refreshing way. I was completely captivated by his voice. It made me think about my own experiences as a gay man and gave me the first glimpse of courage that I too could write about such personal material. I decided to attend a local open mic night to explore more of the poetry world and connect with local writers. At a small pub on Albany road in Cardiff, I saw the poet Christina Thatcher read from her debut collection More than you were. Christina absolutely blew me away. To see and hear Christina read her heartbreakingly raw and powerful poems about the death of her father to addiction was a moving and unforgettable experience. I had never heard someone talk about such painful experiences with such raw honesty and emotion in a public space. Seeing Christina read her poems gave me the confidence to further explore difficult topics in my own writing. I approached Christina and, to my delight, she agreed to be my mentor. I knew nothing about poetry at this moment in time. As I worked with Christina, she began to teach me about the craft of poetry and direct me to different poets’ work that would inspire, educate and enlighten me. She helped to uplift and hone my poetic voice. I am eternally grateful to Christina for introducing me to poetry, and for facilitating my growth and development as a writer.

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

I knew very little about poetry as I was so intimidated by it in school and college, and so to be completely honest I knew very little about any poets when I began writing. I remembered studying poets such as Dylan Thomas and Carol Ann Duffy in college. I had heard of William Blake and Keats, and I now own a book or two by both. I still need to explore more of the work of older poets. I am embarrassed to say that I don’t know much about these dominant and defining figures of the past. As stated in the previous question, my entry point into poetry was through poets like Andrew McMillan and Christina Thatcher. I have continued to explore the work of contemporary poets. Poets are doing more and more amazing things these days, pushing the boundaries and redefining what poetry is. It is an exciting time to be a poet. However, we must not forget the roots of poetry. I have ignored these, and this question has re-reminded me to rectify this.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

I wouldn’t really say that I have a daily writing routine. I can go weeks, months even, without writing anything these days. I used to get terribly frustrated with this and force myself to write, but I’ve found this never works. I’ve learnt to trust the creative process and know that there will be times where I will write a lot and times when I won’t write anything at all. Sometimes other things are happening in my life which means there is no room for writing at that moment in time. This is ok. I guess I used to worry that I wouldn’t get that spark back, but I’ve learnt that it does always come back, and I’ve learnt to allow this to happen naturally. I read poetry nearly every day, so I make sure I am constantly engaging with poetry; this keeps me connected, and eventually that spark always returns. That spark will usually ignite from a small observation or a philosophical musing and a whole poem will bloom from this seedling of a thought.

5. What motivates you to write?

Writing has been one of the most healing and cathartic outlets I have ever known. It has helped me to grow and flourish as a human being. So many writers are using poetry to talk about so many important things, to increase awareness, and fight against social injustices, to break down the walls that stop us from being human and stop us from treating each other as human. My debut chapbook SPECTRUM OF FLIGHT uses my own experiences to explore such social issues as homophobia, bullying, toxic masculinity, depression and the stigma and shame that surround these issues and silence us. Poetry has given me a voice that was taken away from me when I was bullied for years and years for being gay. My hope is that my poetry can speak to others who’ve had their voices taken away too, and help them, in some way, to find and reclaim it, as I have mine. This is what motivates me to write.

6. What is your work ethic?

As mentioned previously, I don’t really have a work ethic. I am a huge scatterbrain and so I will just scribble down a thought or idea and then work from that. Sometimes that will happen instantaneously and the whole poem will flow out from my brain in some incredible way, other times it will percolate in my mind for days, even weeks, before it grows into a fully formed poem.

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

As I mentioned previously, I didn’t read poetry as a youngster. I did, however, read a lot of adventure tales and imaginative stories. I absolutely loved the books by Roald Dahl. Reading these stories inspired my imagination and began to nurture my creative mind.

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

As mentioned earlier, I deeply admire both Andrew McMillan and Christina Thatcher for their masterful skill, powerful voices and the courage and honesty that is at the heart of their work and informs every word. I wouldn’t be the poet I am today if it wasn’t for reading poetry by these two extraordinary authors. Their poetry instilled in me the confidence that I needed to write about my own pain and trauma. There are so many other incredible poets out there today who are writing such powerful and urgent poetry; too many to mention them all here, but I do have to mention Danez Smith. I own and have read two of their books: Don’t Call Us Dead and Homie. These works are monumental achievements. I urge any and every reader interested in contemporary poetry to explore this incredible, singular voice. I was gutted to miss them perform at the Lyra Poetry Festival in Bristol, which was cancelled due to Covid-19.

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

Thomas Hardy wrote: “Poetry is emotion put into measure. The emotion must come by nature, but the measure can be acquired by art.” I think this captures the reason that I write. Poetry is a way for me to make better sense of my emotions. Emotions can be disorientating and complex. When I mark words on a page, rearrange and form them into poetic verse, it helps me to dissect and distil the emotions involved. The very process of writing is therapeutic, it has the power to help us grow and develop and better understand ourselves and the inner workings of our hearts and minds. When we open up to ourselves in this way, we gain the courage to do the same with others. Writing is a way of connecting with others from our most human core.

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

I would say “just go for it”, literally. Try not to worry if what you are writing is good or bad. Don’t start with a critical eye, simply write from your heart, let the words flow out of you. I knew nothing about poetry when I started writing, I was simply trying to put my experiences into words, and now, here I am, four years later, with many published poems and a debut collection. As I said before, the true gifts of writing are its extraordinary power to heal and to bring us closer together. These are the true rewards that matter: that sense of belonging, of community, of support, not if a poem gets picked up by some amazing journal. Yes, this is great, and go you! But I’ve learned that the rewards are so much more than this.

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

At the moment I’m looking for a publisher for a second chapbook, provisionally entitled ‘Headroom’, that looks deeper at my depression. My debut collection SPECTRUM OF FLIGHT explored this to some extent, but largely focused on my experiences of bullying and homophobia that contributed to the onset of this period of significant hardship, rather than looking at the time itself and how it was for me going through this experience. I’ve also got another collection about lost love, and how to find comfort in memory, which I’m working with a press to edit ready for publication. I’m enthusiastic to engage in a collaborative project, so should any writers or artists reading this be interested in doing so, please do get in touch!

12. Looking at poems “a taste of showmanship” and “moonmasked self” how important is white space to you?

On white space, the Poet Li-Young Lee writes, in The Alabaster Jar, “I think we use language to inflect silence so we can hear it better…. Inflected silence could be explained by the way everything seems quieter after you hear a bell ring. It’s almost as if we’re using language, but the real subject is silence.”

I think Lee brilliantly captures what is so effective about using white space. It literally frames and compresses words/sentences, and the space between these gives added meaning.

In my poem ‘A taste of showmanship‘ I use white space to further enhance the scrutinizing voices that drive the poem. White space is a tool I use to dissect the language used by this comedian and draw attention to his choice of words to highlight their offensiveness.

White space creates a dialogue within a poem. As Lee points out: “…everything seems quieter after you hear a bell ring”. White space is that silence following the sound of language. It creates space for the reader to pause and reflect on the words they have just read. It harnesses the reader’s focus. In ‘Moon as masked self‘ I use white space to create two columns which the poem oscillates between. This poem is about two selves. The person with the mask on and the person behind the mask. The use of white space communicates the dialogue between them to the reader both visually and auditorily.

13. A running theme throughout is water in various guises.

It is. In fact a working title for the book was ‘Reflecting light’, as both water and light feature prominently throughout the collection and are woven deeply into the overarching narrative of the book. Water first appears in the second poem ‘Swimming lessons‘. In this poem water, in the form of a river, is a place of trauma, but also one that possesses the conditions needed to cultivate strength. An environment in which one can sink or swim. Water, in this form, was the perfect metaphor for my precarious existence.

14. And you explore the relationship between hardness and softness, as the pebble skims the water

Yes. Three consecutive poems in Spectrum of Flight have ‘stone’ in the title. I like to call this the ‘stone triptych’ of the collection. Stone is first introduced in the poem ‘After reading gay sex will be punishable by stoning to death in Brunei‘. Stone is a weapon to inflict inhumane pain and punishment. In the following poem ‘If only my body was made of stone‘, stone is something I desire that my body be made of, to repress my sexuality and eradict it, much like the ruling to stone gay people aims to. This links the poems. In the third poem ‘Stone carving‘ I begin to grow more comfortable in my sexuality, learning that it doesn’t have to leave me isolated and alone, but that I can embrace it and be close with others through this growing acceptance. This journey to acceptance was a long and difficult one that, to some extent, is forever ongoing. There’s still some hardness there, but I’ve managed to shrink, soften and lighten that resistance, thus the ‘carving’ of my stone-body and the shaping it into a pebble.

15. All the elements transform. It is a tale of becoming.

They do. The book is brimming with the pain of coming of age and the hardships I endured, but there is relief. There are slivers of hope that cling to these poems, they are its lifeline. I take the reader through all this suffering, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Ultimately, the message is one of hope and resilience. I’m still fascinated by the fact that I came out of a debilitating depression (one the hardest experiences I’ve ever been through) stronger than I had ever been before it. I felt an overwhelming urge to share this truth, in the hope that it might be a lifeline for others who are going through times of unthinkable pain and suffering. This is my greatest hope.

16: What do you wish the reader to leave with once they have read “Spectrum of Flight“?

I hope the reader will leave with a real sense of how damaging homophobic bullying is, how damaging any bullying is. I hope that Spectrum of Flight communicates this with power and urgency.

I also hope the reader leaves with some belief that we humans have the ability to overcome the most difficult hardships, and that we can come out of them stronger. That life’s challenges, as cruel and tough as they can be, can also be catalysts for life-changing personal learning, growth and healing.

This book is about finding my voice after feeling silenced for so long. I hope that sharing my experience can help others who’ve also felt silenced in any way to find and reclaim their own voices. This is what I hope above all else.

Seabirds And Seals, what do you see? Share what you love about the sea using #NationalMarineWeek 25th July- 9th August, more like two weeks poetry and artwork challenge I’d love to hear all about your favourite marine wildlife, the actions you take to help our sea life, and what the sea means to you. Furst Seven Days: Saturday: Seawatch, Sunday: Rock-pools, Monday: Seabirds And Seals, Tuesday: The Strandline, Wednesday: Sand Dunes And Salt-Marshes, Thursday: Fish-Life, Friday: What Marine Life Does For Us. Please submit your poems and artwork by DM to me, or send a message via my WordPress “The Wombwell Rainbow” contact screen or my FB “Paul Brookes-Writer and Photographer”. Today: Monday: Seabirds And Seals.

Monday: Seabirds And Seals

ChristinaChin_Sanderlings_Wombwell Rainbow

flee as wave rushes in
flock back as it recedes
sanderlings

~ Christina Chin
The Haiku Foundation 11 July 18

ChristinaChin_no fishing_Wombwell Rainbow

no fishing within
two nautical miles
the seagulls laugh

~ Christina Chin
The Haiku Foundation 17 July 18

Winter afternoon

The sky is a piece of paper,
crumpled and smoothed out
by grubby hands, smeared
with grey, mottled by time
all meaning rubbed away
the gull is a blade,
slicing through the air,
each feather sharpened
by the wind, each turn
drawing blood
the sky is a dirty
sheet of paper.
the gull is a
feathered blade.
sky
paper
gull
blade

-Sarah Connor

Seal At Angel Bay

 

-Soo Finch

A Beach Memoir

When we were two pearls
we lay across an oyster-tongue.
Juice filled us. Teeth bracketed
us, tender, our kernels.

We rode that tongue,
crusted shell, lavender world,
complete.

Sea spray, sun sheeted
sky mauve. Gull swooped, dove,
striated stripes blue, gray-veined,

and pearl, we plummeted
through storm-clouds
to break upon granite strand.
Laughter, the way of scavengers.
Empty shards, strewn pearls,

silent tongue. Story scribed
across sky, swooping black scratches,
disappearing ink. Explosion, epilogue.
Nobody to remember.

-Rachael Ikins

Keeping in touch, virtually: two publications from the time of distancing

Tears in the Fence

Untitled, 2020, (The London Magazine: edited by Matthew Scott and available from Lucy Binnersley at the magazine’s headquarters at 11 Queen’s Gate, London, SW7 5EL)

Quarantine, (Muscaliet Press: edited by Moyra Tourlamain and available on the Press’s website at https://www.muscaliet.co.uk/the-quarantine-notebooks/)

Dated June this year Matthew Scott’s Preface to The London Magazine’s powerful collection of writings arising out of the Covid-19 lock-down opens with a quotation from Samuel Beckett: ‘a mind like the one I always had, always on the alert against itself’. That use of the word ‘alert’ places the importance of what will follow in a very particular time-frame:

‘To be alert to complacencies of thought is surely a good thing but Beckett’s phrase also seems to imply a mind at work against its own well-being. In my case, that quality of the mind working against itself has been a mark of this difficult…

View original post 734 more words

Rockpools, what do you see? Share what you love about the sea using #NationalMarineWeek 25th July- 9th August, more like two weeks poetry and artwork challenge I’d love to hear all about your favourite marine wildlife, the actions you take to help our sea life, and what the sea means to you. Furst Seven Days: Saturday: Seawatch, Sunday: Rock-pools, Monday: Seabirds And Seals, Tuesday: The Strandline, Wednesday: Sand Dunes And Salt-Marshes, Thursday: Fish-Life, Friday: What Marine Life Does For Us. Please submit your poems and artwork by DM to me, or send a message via my WordPress “The Wombwell Rainbow” contact screen or my FB “Paul Brookes-Writer and Photographer”. Today: Sunday. What can you see in a rockpool? How would you describe it? Rockpools what do you see?

Beadlet Amenome RachelRockpool Rachel

Images from Wki Commons

Beadlet Anemone

A sea does not journey without obstacle,
it divides and foams across stone,
a slave to tides, it swirls, waves
over the living and dead it carries –
all passengers, all hungry for something
as it gasps the friction of their stories
upon shingle or sand. Or here,
meeting land, it casts itself onto rocks,
blasts new water into the worlds
of the cut-off, the alienated,
those adapted to ravage:
beadlet anemones worn by pools
as if they were bloody wounds
that exposed their suffering, and toxic,
lashing out whips of survival
where life involves many forms of fighting.

Rachel Deering

rockpool

Rockpool image by Paul Brookes

Her Rockpool

eyes shiver as you approach,
careful her anenomes sting,

her hermit crab quick retreat,
here is movement in the sand.

-Paul Brookes

Beyond the breakers what do you see? Share what you love about the sea using #NationalMarineWeek 25th July- 9th August, more like two weeks poetry and artwork challenge I’d love to hear all about your favourite marine wildlife, the actions you take to help our sea life, and what the sea means to you. Furst Seven Days: Saturday: Seawatch, Sunday: Rock-pools, Monday: Seabirds And Seals, Tuesday: The Strandline, Wednesday: Sand Dunes And Salt-Marshes, Thursday: Fish-Life, Friday: What Marine Life Does For Us. Please submit your poems and artwork by DM to me, or send a message via my WordPress “The Wombwell Rainbow” contact screen or my FB “Paul Brookes-Writer and Photographer”. Today: Saturday: Seawatch. What can you see out at sea? How would you describe it? Beyond the breakers what do you see?

Saturday: Seawatch

Amartine waves 1Amartine waves 2Amartine waves 3

WP_20150512_294

Voyages With My Daughter

Voyage 1

The best sailors, Aurelia-Noa’s father
says as he unties a reluctant nappy,
are those whose days sway to the same rhythm
their nights undulate and those who startles
in sleep seeing lighthouses flashing out
a rocky cladach and those who may haven’t
seen any sea.
The best sailors, her father sports a watery eye,
are always ready with a sadness for the places
they will depart in the time to come. Land,
says Aurelia-Noa’s father, exists to make
the body of water interesting. Nighttime.
A noise makes them look at the window pane.
A seagull, blind, whooshes by, the streets
and lanes harbour the silhouettes. One
school of lights swim beside another’s shoal.
Everything smells brine. Puma, cooes Aurelia-Noa.
Her father nods, closes his eyes.

Voyage 2

One night of no sleep
Aurelia-Noa and her Puma
go on a voyage to save
one Dream whale
caught in between
two wolf shaped icebergs
melting and shapeshifting.

On their course they meet
a mute octopus
who writes whatever it wants
to say and it says, “…”.
They meet a swimming penguin.
Penguin tells them about the star
that follows her
from the northeast point of
northern hemisphere
and about the aurora borealis.

“Sing the song again.”, says
Aurelia-Noa when penguin finishes.
It hums, “kachingachingachingess.”
And Aurelia-Noa falls asleep
in her Puma’s arms.

.
Voyage 3

Little Aurelia-Noa will show you her cot
where hides a spider whose name is Loki
who sings in a low key and sings about meeting
his grandmother who lives in the sea and who is
the mute octopus they met in another tall tale –
the time they went to recover from blue
into the deepest part of the barrier reef,
oh what an adventure.
Never ever Aurelia-Noa will spill where
the u-boat carrying all the stolen arts is buried,
but it is somewhere in her crib.

Voyage 4

A hermit crab crawls
with its coke can home.

They witnessed a whale
in those wave,

then they also said
mermaids mislead Columbus.

I play hermit crab with my daughter,
say, “I am the crab. Your childhood
is my home for this tide.

-Kushal Poddar

Beyond the breakers

what can I see?

I see a little fishing boat
almost too distant for me.

I see enormous wind machines,
in rows and rows white and clean.

I see seabirds dive and fall,
hear the their of their lonely call.

Beyond the breakers
what do you see?

-Paul Brookes

Share what you love about the sea using #NationalMarineWeek 25th July- 9th August, more like two weeks poetry and artwork challenge I’d love to hear all about your favourite marine wildlife, the actions you take to help our sea life, and what the sea means to you. Furst Seven Days: Saturday: Seawatch, Sunday: Rock-pools, Monday: Seabirds And Seals, Tuesday: The Strandline, Wednesday: Sand Dunes And Salt-Marshes, Thursday: Fish-Life, Friday: What Marine Life Does For Us. Please submit your poems and artwork by DM to me, or send a message via my WordPress “The Wombwell Rainbow” contact screen or my FB “Paul Brookes-Writer and Photographer”

beach

Share what you love about the sea using #NationalMarineWeek poetry challenge I’d love to hear all about your favourite marine wildlife, the actions you take to help our sea life, and what the sea means to you. Saturday: Seawatch, Sunday: Rock-pools, Monday: Seabirds And Seals, Tuesday: The Strandline, Wednesday: Sand Dunes And Salt-Marshes, Thursday: Fish-Life, Friday: What Marine Life Does For Us. Please submit your poems by DM to me, or send a message via my WordPress “The Wombwell Rainbow” contact screen or my FB “Paul Brookes-Writer and Photographer”

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Billy Mills

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.

The City Itself by Billy Mills

Billy Mills,

poet, editor, formerly literary journalist at guardian.co.uk

He was born Dublin in 1954. After some years spent in Spain and the UK, he currently lives in Limerick. He is co-editor (with Catherine Walsh) of hardpressed Poetry. His Lares/Manes: Collected Poems was published by Shearsman in 2009, and Imaginary Gardens and Loop Walks by hardPressed poetry in 2012 and 2013 respectively. Most recently, The City Itself was published by Hesterglock Press in 2017.

millsbiAToutlookDOTcom

The Interview

1. What inspired you to write poetry?

‘Inspired’ is a very heavily freighted word to use when speaking about poetry, isn’t it? I was led to writing poetry by reading it. I was fascinated by the way the sound of language was as important as the sense I poems. From very early on I was less interested in ‘self-expression’ than in poetry as a means to explore what the world is. I don’t think I was ‘inspired’, I think I was (and am) just doing something quite natural

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

I was a voracious reader from a very young age, reading everything from classic novels in children’s edition, very popular when I was young, to the backs of cereal packets when I was supposed to be eating breakfast. My father had a copy of Palgrave and a pocket edition of Fitzgerald’s Rubaiyat, both of which I read repeatedly, developing a fondness for 16th and 17th century lyrics and a distaste for the Romantics that have kind of stuck.
Then I discovered Bob Dylan and, via a school anthology called The Poet’s Tale, Eliot and Pound. These three, and the other songwriters and poets they led me too, were formative influences, I suppose. There was no one ‘formative’ influence; what I found, I found by myself, largely.

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

Most the poets I was reading were older, dead or alive, for a very long time. Really until my mid 20s, I suppose. I was absorbing everything I could read, especially early to mid 20th century Modernism, still am, really. But again, ‘dominating’ is a strong word. Enabling might be more apt. Take Lorine Niedecker, for instance. Reading her work opened up a whole new world, but dominating is not a word to use for her. She points towards a way to write ‘nature poetry’ without the old Romantic freight of the ego. There’s a couplet of hers that more or less sums up my idea of poetry, ‘the very veery/on the fence’; that is to say, the bird itself, not the birs standing for something else, the world, then thing in and of itself is, in my view, the proper aim of poetry. Lorine exemplifies this in her work.
Later on, Cid Corman was personally very kind and supportive. As was Brian Coffey, a great, still neglected Irish voice.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

I don’t have one. Most of my writing is done in my head, and then I have a notebook on the go where I write when I’m ready. I read poets talking about a daily routine with a kind of awed amazement. Poetry is just part of life, for me, and it fits in where it can.

5. What motivates you to write?

The possibly foolish belief that I can write something better than I’ve managed so far. It’s a kind of itch, writing, and you just have to scratch it.

6. What is your work ethic?

Non-existent. Writing poetry is work in a very specific sense. You’re not paid for it and nobody’s standing over you waiting for you to finish. You do it because you want to, or not at all. Or at least, that’s my approach. So, a work ethic would be highly misplaced.

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

Largely by being the reason I write, and that I write the way I do.

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

There are a lot. Bill Griffiths was a genuinely great poet, as was Tom Raworth. Susan Howe is, too. And then there are the ‘experimental’ Irish poets, Maurice Scully, Catherine Walsh others, whose work I read with admiration always. These are poets who have taken that Modernist tradition off in interesting, individual directions. Indeed, a lot of British and American poets of that generation, Let’s say LANGUAGE and the British Poetry Revival, are writers I admire a lot.
Since I started reviewing on my blog I’ve encountered a lot of work I wouldn’t have seen otherwise, much of it very good indeed. It would be invidious to name names for fear of omitting anyone.

9. Why do you write?

Because I must, not being smart. I don’t have any instrumental reason, I’m not trying to change the world or communicate any great message, but the process of writing is something I feel compelled to do. It’s a process of raising questions, not answers. Or, as I wrote elsewhere, ‘If the role of philosophy is to inspire action, the role of poetry is to be in the world.’

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

Read, a lot, critically. Buy a notebook and pen, write.

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

I have a book more or less finished called a book of sounds, consisting of three inter-related pieces, ‘Four’, which was set to music by David Bremner a while back, ‘Uncertain Songs’ and ‘Away’. Parts of the first two are available online and the third is completely unpublished. I’m now working on what may become a longish thing, bit it’s just some stuff in a notebook so far.