Category Archives: Interviews

INKSPILL 2018 Guest Writer Kate Garrett Interview

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INKSPILL GUESTS Kate G

Kate Garrett talks to us about writing poetry, her influences, books and reading as well as the latest on her current projects.

 

1) When did you realise you were a writer/ poet? 

I realised I was a writer somewhere around age three. I wanted to write my own books (I’d learned to read when I was two) – so my grandma would bind scraps of leftover wallpaper in cardboard, and I’d spend my days drawing Care Bears and My Little Pony fan fiction in them. I recall one of my Care Bears holding a knife, so I think my personal style was set long, long ago…

Poetry came several years later, with reading ‘The Highwayman’ by Alfred Noyes for the first time. It was historical fiction, it was a ghost story, it was full of emotion – it was everything I loved about prose fiction but in ballad form. It made me realise poetry was storytelling, too; it was when I learned ‘poetry’ was not just the amusing rhymes they taught us as small children. From there I moved on to the Beat Generation, then Sharon Olds, all in my teens, and became obsessed with writing it myself. I was 12 when ‘The Highwayman’ got that started. Strangely enough, it was through school that I came to love it – which is what quite a lot of people cite as a turn off.

2) Tell us about your process: Pen and Paper, computer, notebooks … how do you write? 

Pen and paper first, words and ideas jotted down in stream of consciousness, scribbles, only I know what I am trying to say (and sometimes even I don’t know). Then I take it to the computer, start typing anything that sounded salvageable in my notes, and stronger images and phrasing will come to me as I work. While I write the proper first draft, I must discover something I didn’t know was there – something about a character I’m writing (because much of my poetry is historical fiction or horror or both), or about myself, or a situation/experience. If that doesn’t happen, if I don’t learn something while writing, the poem isn’t working.

3) Which writer would you most like to have a drink with, and why?

Søren Kierkegaard and Albert Camus, because both of their books have helped with my emotional and mental wellbeing over the years… being comfortable with your own anxiety in an absurd world has a lot going for it, and without these guys and their own forms of existentialism, I don’t know if I’d have reached that point.

4) Where do you buy your books? 

Everywhere books are sold! I mean that sounds like an exaggeration, but I buy books literally everywhere I go, as well as from the internet. Two of the books I’m currently reading were purchased from the gift shop at the top of the Great Orme in Llandudno…

5) Who are you reading now? 

It’s more what am I reading than who just now. I’m reading a lot of history books, especially witch and/or occult and/or religion related – nothing new there – and I’m reading Against Nature (À Rebours) by J.-K. Huysmans, because I just love Huysmans’ novels, they hypnotise me a bit. But I tend to have anywhere from 10-25 books on the go at once (not an exaggeration), depending on what I feel like picking up on any given day. I do go through phases of reading poetry book after poetry book, but right now I’m not in one of those – I imagine I’ll be in one again before the new year! The last handful of poetry books I read included Sheffield Almanac by Pete Green, Sunshine by Melissa Lee-Houghton, Killing the Piano by Joe Williams, Moon Milk by Rachel Bower, & by Amy Kinsman, and Somewhere Between Rose and Black by Claire Walker.

6) Tell us about your latest collection. 

It’s called Land and Sea and Turning, and it’s a limited edition (only 100 copies will ever exist) chapbook published by CWP (Cringe-worthy Poets) Collective Press in Buffalo, NY, USA. It’s 22 poems about fate, and free will… and ok, also death. There are mythological, historical, and personal poems, and a few which are horror fiction. I don’t like to say which poems are which. I’m sure people can figure it out…

7) What influenced it?

History, mythology, literature, astrology, and inevitably, life. There are poems about cannibalism in Jamestown during the winter of 1609-1610; medieval belief in revenants in the abandoned Yorkshire village of Wharram Percy; a crime/horror fiction poem narrated by a very superstitious understudy during a run of Macbeth; a poem about The Girl in Blue, a figure of Ohio folklore who really existed, but her identity was a mystery for 60 years. Some of it is based in my own experience, but I’m increasingly weary of focusing on myself. I like giving life to history. I want people to feel those who came before us as fully fleshed out humans, not just names and dates and ideas, because learning history by memorising dates misses the point. More than anything I want to unsettle people in unexpected ways, not just with stories of my childhood abuse and bad choices as a younger adult. And that’s kind of what happened in Land and Sea and Turning – though some of the poems are personal, the need to dig around in other darkness, the stuff outside of myself, that took over.

8) What are your current/future projects?  

I’ve just finished a mini pamphlet of 12 poems called She looks just like you, which is currently under consideration at a press, and my fingers are firmly crossed. This one is very much based in my personal experience, but it’s through the lens of an elf or a changeling in the human world.

I also just finished my four-part poem ‘The fifth & final’ (to be released this winter as a Stickleback micro collection from Hedgehog Poetry Press), which is about magic, and how I blend my Christian and pagan beliefs, and sort of mythologising my youngest daughter Bonnie’s conception/gestation/birth. It’ll be part of my first full-length collection of poetry, The saint of milk and flames, which I’m halfway through writing. It’s full of faith and doubt, ideas about belonging and outsiders, and has a thread of fire running through it while being simultaneously soothing – hence the title, which is after Brigid, who is both Christian saint and pagan goddess.


 

Later we interview Kate Garrett in her role as Editor.

The Birmingham & Midland Institute Poetry Event

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THURSDAY 10 MAY – IN-CONVERSATION AND POETRY READING WITH NINA LEWIS

The BMI is proudly welcoming Worcestershire Poet Laureate Nina Lewis to discuss her work. Join Nina for an in-conversation about her life through poetry and listen as she shares poems from her pamphlet Fragile Houses (V. Press, 2016) along with some of her new work.

This will be followed by an Open Mic session – spaces are limited and poets will be invited to read their work for no more than 6 minutes. Please contact Serena Trowbridge at serena.trowbridge[at]bcu.ac.uk to reserve your slot to read!

© 2018 Birmingham & Midland Institute

https://bmi.org.uk/product/conversation-poetry-reading-nina-lewis/

CONTOUR Poetry Magazine

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CONTOUR WPL Magazine Issue 1 Place – Worcestershire

 

 

INKSPILL 2017 Closing with something NEW

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INKSPILL SHARE BUTTON

I hope you have all enjoyed this year’s retreat – the posts remain active, so spread the word.

And in case you have more room for poetry – let me present the first issue of CONTOUR the WPL Poetry Magazine. Packed full of Worcestershire in words, photos and interviews. ENJOY and share!

INKSPILL Library Open

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INKSPILL Library

We hope you enjoyed the archives on offer in the NEW library yesterday. Here are some more links for you to enjoy from previous INKSPILL retreats. 

 

INKSPILL 2015 

GUEST WRITER INTERVIEW

with Alison May

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/10/24/inkspill-guest-writer-interview-with-alison-may/

 

GUEST WRITER INTERVIEW 

with David Calcutt Poet, Writer & Playwright.

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/10/24/inkspill-guest-writer-interview-david-calcutt/

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/10/24/inkspill-guest-writer-interview-david-calcutt-part-2/

 

 

CREATING CHARACTERS WORKSHOP 

with Nina Lewis 

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/10/24/inkspill-workshop-2-creating-characters/

 

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INKSPILL 2016

 

FEATURED INTERVIEW with 

Neil Gaiman

 

GUEST WRITER INTERVIEW 

with Gaia Harper 

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2016/10/22/inkspill-guest-writer-interview-with-gaia-harper/

 

GUEST WRITER 

Deanne Gist and her Two Minute Tips

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2016/10/23/inkspill-guest-writer-deeanne-gist-two-minute-tips/

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In 2016 I was lucky enough to book Roy McFarlane as a Guest Writer and he produced an in depth workshop series exclusively for us. 

You will find links to other parts of his INKSPILL workshops at the bottom of the post, I strongly advise you trawl through all the exercises. It is more Masterclass than Workshop!

GUEST WRITER 

Roy McFarlane Workshops on Writing Loss 

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2016/10/23/inkspill-guest-writer-workshop-roy-mcfarlane-writing-their-presence/

 

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INKSPILL The Editors

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INKSPILL SUN

Finding your voice, what editors know and look for, the idea of better writers, editing and more.

Watch this interview with Writers and Editors Victor Dwyer and Charlotte Gill talking to to Ian Brown about modern writing in 2014 from Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity

BANFF

 

 

INKSPILL Guest Poet Stephen Daniels Those Quick-Fire Sparks

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We asked Stephen a series of quick-fire questions and he was game enough to share his results. 

Here are the questions – maybe you would like to comment with your own answers below.

 

Confident writer or anxious?

Slow or fast?

Planner or plunger?

 

 

 

And now here are the questions and Stephen’s answers. (We didn’t want to sway yours!)

 

Confident writer or anxious?

A confident writer – an anxious self-editor, and my own biggest critic! 

Slow or fast?

Fast, Fast, Fast… I tend not to do anything slowly… life is too short! 

Planner or plunger?

Plunger… I find that planning tends to over complicate things. 

101 .Stephen Daniels swindontheatrescouk © swindontheatres.co.uk 

INKSPILL Guest Poet Interview Stephen Daniels

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1) How long have you been writing?

Not long really. I started writing Poetry in March 2015. I was encouraged to write by my creative writing tutor (and now very good friend) Hilda Sheehan. 

 

2) What tips would you give to someone starting out?

Read – write – read – write – repeat! It is so important to read when you are starting out – I learned more from reading than I ever did writing and it exposes you to different styles. This is what helped me find the writing style that worked for me. 

Secondly, don’t worry about being bad. I think it is important to just write at the beginning – being good should be secondary, that will come with time, but I think most writers struggle with feelings of inadequacy. My advice is to write through it – I think we all have to write the personal, cheesy poetry to break-through to the good stuff! 

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Stephen Daniels had his debut pamphlet published by V. Press in 2017

 

3) Where did ‘Tell Mistakes I Love Them’ start? 

I had written a lot of poetry and had been lucky enough to have much of it published. So I started thinking about what I could do next. I looked at the body of work I had created and realised I had a strong theme running through some of the work and started to pull it together.

I had around 50 poems which were semi-autobiographical, telling tales of my life, my family and my anxieties. I went through them all with some poet friends and whittled down the poems to around 30 and the line ‘Tell Mistakes I Love Them’ stood out on one of my poems and I felt like it summed up what I was trying to say.

The poems can be quite devastating, and I liked the idea of optimism running through them – even though some times it can be really, really hard to spot! 

 

4) Why V. Press? (I know you did lots of research – admirably so)

I have read a lot (A LOT) of poetry over the last two and a half years, and I found V. Press by accident, I read a poet called Claire Walker and loved the poem – so I bought her book – which was published by V. Press – I read it in one sitting and fell in love with it.

Claire Walker

My first poetry love! The content was amazing, but I also loved the way the books were produced and I felt a strong affinity with the style of poetry. So I started buying more V. Press books.

I have nearly all of them, and love them all. So when I found out V. Press had an open submission window, I sent them my manuscript. They were the only place I had considered, and thankfully the editor Sarah Leavesley enjoyed my poetry enough to offer to publish it!

 

5) I know we shouldn’t have them, but a favourite poem from your book?

I shall skilfully avoid this question and my own ego – by bowing to the people! One of the biggest surprises of having a book published is the poems that resonate with other people.

The poem that has resonated most with people was not what I expected but it has been a very pleasant surprise and that is ‘Wordslast’ a poem that came out of a Hilda Sheehan workshop… I will share the workshop task below so that you can try it!

Wordslast
 
Now she shouted shutwindow
Shutwindow now she shouted
So I said windowshut
Windowshut I said so
 
Opendoor now please come in I said
I said Please come in now opendoor
Dooropen now she screamed at me
Now at me she screamed dooropen
 
Lockedgate She demanded now
She demanded lockedgate now
I replied gatelocked now
Now gatelocked I replied
 
Now she questioned clearroad
Clearroad now she questioned
Roadclear now I answered incorrectly
Incorrectly I answered roadclear now
 
Wideeyes she pleaded with me
With me she pleaded wideeyes
Eyeswide I struggled to tell her
I struggled to tell her eyeswide
 
Handhold she asked me to
She asked me to handhold
Holdhand I said closing my eyes
Closing my eyes I said holdhand
 
 
(Previously published in ‘And Other Poems’)

Also published and discussed here https://louisacampbellblog.wordpress.com/2017/06/10/signpost-twelve-wordslast-by-stephen-daniels/

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6) Describe your typical writing day.

I crave a typical writing day!! Unfortunately, like editing, I tend to write in the space in between things. I tend to give myself time in the evenings to write, but if I am struggling to put anything meaningful on paper I always have book nearby as an alternative.

 

7) Where do you write?

Anywhere, I find my best poetry tends to happen when I am watching people – on a train, in a pub, in a park etc. but sometimes an idea just grabs you and you have to write  it there and then. I find that if I don’t capture it at that point, it rarely comes back again!

I always liked Ruth Stone’s story of how she would capture poems… I’m not sure my experience is as intense, but I definitely relate to the experience!

Taken from Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruth_Stone) :

As [Stone] was growing up in rural Virginia, she would be out, working in the fields and she would feel and hear a poem coming at her from over the landscape. It was like a thunderous train of air and it would come barrelling down at her over the landscape. And when she felt it coming . . . ’cause it would shake the earth under her feet, she knew she had only one thing to do at that point. That was to, in her words, “run like hell” to the house as she would be chased by this poem.
The whole deal was that she had to get to a piece of paper fast enough so that when it thundered through her, she could collect it and grab it on the page. Other times she wouldn’t be fast enough, so she would be running and running, and she wouldn’t get to the house, and the poem would barrel through her and she would miss it, and it would “continue on across the landscape looking for another poet.”

 

And then there were these times, there were moments where she would almost miss it. She is running to the house and is looking for the paper and the poem passes through her. She grabs a pencil just as it’s going through her and she would reach out with her other hand and she would catch it. She would catch the poem by its tail and she would pull it backwards into her body as she was transcribing on the page. In those instances, the poem would come up on the page perfect and intact, but backwards, from the last word to the first.

 

8) Who are you reading right now?

Books I am enjoying right now include Sinead Morrissey’s collection ‘On Balance’, Pascale Petit’s ‘Mama Amzonica’ and ‘The Nagasaki Elder’ by Antony Owen – a stunning collection of poems published by V. Press earlier this year.

 

 

INKSPILL – Guest Editor Interview with Stephen Daniels

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Guest Editor Interview with Stephen Daniels.

 

1) Why was Amaryllis Poetry started? What was the idea behind the magazine?

Amaryllis was started over 4 years ago by my Poetry Swindon friend Hilda Sheehan. Hilda wanted to help publish Swindon poets and friends and it started as a relatively informal invite only project. After a year, the project slowed and was paused for around a year. Two years ago I offered to take Amaryllis over and invite submissions. I was hoping to find exciting poets within our network, but it soon exploded and I was receiving submissions from all over the world. Amaryllis has now published over 200 poets and is widely read around the world. 

 

2) Any advice to writers submitting to Amaryllis? 

Make sure you include a small note with your submission – nothing frustrates me more than when people send their poems with no note. It shows a lack of pride in your work.

A final piece of advice is something I publish on the website when submissions are open: Take a risk – Early on during Amaryllis I received very ‘safe’ poems and I am really looking for poems that are different, poems that reach the parts other poems struggle to reach!

 

3) What makes Amaryllis different to other mags on the market?

First there is the editor – me! I think my taste in poetry is quite eclectic. I enjoy more formal poetry, but I don’t think there are many online magazines that are embracing experimental poetry in the same way that Amaryllis does.

Secondly I am always eager to find new poets and new voices. I tend to forgive the exuberance and imperfections of a less experienced poet and I think this has built a reputation for publishing poets for the first time – who then go on to be published in many other places.

 

4) What is your mission at Amaryllis?

To share great poetry with as many people as possible. I don’t think it is any more complicated than that. 

 

5) Describe a day as an editor.

It is fairly unremarkable – as I have a full-time job and two relatively young children, so I tend to edit in the time in between things. Finding 30 minutes here or there to sit down and be invited into someone else’s world – it is a real privilege.

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6) Anything that has surprised you about editing a magazine?

I think the thing that surprised me most, was that a powerful poem is not enough. When I started writing, I wrote some seriously dark poetry… sometimes that is all it would have – darkness and more darkness and I thought that was fine – if it is written well, it will be good enough. What I have come to realise through editing is that this is rarely enough.

A well written poem is good, but it needs different dimensions.  It needs to be have moving parts and complexities that surprise the editor – this has affected my own writing and it is often the most disappointing rejections, where the poem is well written, but hasn’t got that extra element that lifts it above poems.

One other thing that surprised me, is that most poems are good. This may sound ridiculous, but what I have found from people submitting is that they perceive a rejection as the poem not being good. In my experience that is rarely the case – it is more often the case that the poem lacks something I am looking for, or that it wasn’t right at that time. It is likely that the poem will be picked up by a different editor. Don’t take the rejection process too seriously – it is just one person’s opinion. 

 

7) Any upcoming projects we should know about?

No – other than submissions are re-opening in November!

 

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http://www.amaryllispoetry.co.uk/p/submissions.html