I recently did an interview with Paul Brookes over at Wombwell Rainbow. You can click here to read the full interview. Even if you aren’t interested in the interview, take a few minutes to check out his site. He has a great project happening right now with some amazing writers and artists.
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.
has unknowingly found himself trapped in the incessant heat and beauty of Arizona. It is here, along with his family, that he finds solace stringing together words in an attempt to find a structure or sequence that may one day make sense of all this.
1. When and why did you start writing poetry?
It’s difficult to say when, exactly. Growing up, I was always writing something. Poems, stories, songs; whatever struck me. As to the why, I suppose I’ve just always had a desire, or motivation to try and create something worthwhile. Along with that, I’ve always been quiet and withdrawn. Never comfortable around people. So, maybe, my attempts at the written word are a way to compensate for my failings with the spoken word. I think we’re all looking for something, and writing is my medium in the search.
2. Who introduced you to poetry?
Emily Dickinson. I’m not sure of my exact age, probably in the third grade, but I saw a list of famous people who had the same birthday as me. Her name was on the list and I was curious as to who she was. I went to the school library and found a collection of her poetry. I’m sure I didn’t understand most of it, but something in her words hooked on to me. From that day forward, I spent a lot of my recesses sitting under a tree reading her and Virginia Woolf.
2.1. What did you find in Dickinson and Woolf?
I think a lot of what fascinated me with them both was not just their work but each of them as a person. With Dickinson, the fact that so much of her poetry remained unknown until after her death. There’s always a certain romanticism associated with the artist who leaves behind such a literary legacy, having never achieved any recognition in their lifetime. Her reclusive nature. How she spent a great portion of her life in isolation. I wanted to know why. And the “darker” themes of her work appealed to me. And not just her poetry, but the collections of her letters that have been published. It’s possible that I have spent more time with her letters than her poetry.
With Woolf, I read about her life before I actually read any of her work. The sadness of her days, the manner in which she took her own life. I thought about that a lot. And I think that is partly how I eventually came to understand/believe that there is a certain beauty to be found in tragedy.
2.2. Why did the “darker” themes of Dickinson’s work appeal to you?
Hmm. That’s a good question. I’m not entirely sure. It’s just something I’ve always been drawn to. There’s a lot of hands reaching out of the darkness. I think there’s a part of me that wants to find a way to connect with even just one of those hands. And in acknowledging my own selfishness, perhaps that connection can help me to understand some of the things I carry with me. With so many voices screaming into the void, why is it we never seem to hear one another? I want people to understand that they are not alone. And with that, convince myself of the same.
2.3. So how is poetry a means to say to others that they are not alone?
Words have the potential to break through the belief that we are all alone in this. That nobody understands or cares. When we come across a piece that we can relate to, that feels as if the author were writing about us directly, then a degree of that loneliness falls away. Staring at a page of sequenced words and realizing that I am not the only one who feels a certain way is a powerful thing. I believe that we are all connected and that poetry has the ability to rekindle that connection.
3. How aware are and were you of the dominating presence of older poets traditional and contemporary?
A dominating presence in regard to what exactly? As far as personal preference, I’m definitely more interested in contemporary/free form styles. I realize there are some people who subscribe to the school of “proper” poetry, but I’m not one of them. Nothing against it though. I’m a believer in writing whatever you want, however you want to.
4. What is your daily writing routine?
I take advantage of any time that I am able to devote to writing. It varies. First thing in the morning is preferred but I often find myself scribbling into the night.
5. What subjects motivate you to write?
I rarely write anything starting off with a subject in mind. What happens is, I tend to get a word or line stuck in my head and I go from there.
5.1. Please could you give an example from a recent poem that you wrote how it developed from a word or line that stuck in your head.
There’s really nothing exciting or interesting to the process. With my piece, I Understand Goodbye, it started with the line ‘my failures surround me’ and thinking of that, I just wrote it. For poems, I always jot down a rough draft in a notebook, and then I smooth it out while typing it up on the computer. That part varies from piece to piece, as some require very little editing while others require a lot. And quite a few of them end up getting deleted because they’re garbage.