Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? At what age did you start writing? Have you always written poetry? Who/what first inspired you to start writing? Who are your favorite poets?
I live in a tiny village in North Wales called Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog. It is situated in the Ceiriog Valley, named after John Ceiriog Hughes, the famous Welsh poet so it a very beautiful, inspiring place to live. I have a wife and two children. I have been writing for a while now, but really only started seriously in January 2015 when, because of health problems, I had to give up working as a chef, a job I’d done for years. Now I focus fully on my writing, without the stresses of 90 hour weeks!
My writing is very cathartic, so I suppose I needed to write rather than was inspired. It gradually took over my life, like anything you love, and is now as much a part of me as my flesh and blood.
My favourite poets are a varied bunch. I’d say the first poet I fell for truly was Bukowski. His ability to just lay down beautiful words, so effortlessly and so approachably was mind-blowing. He may not have been the best role-model for a human being but as a poet I think he took a lot of beating. I also love Sylvia Plath, Walt Whitman and a guy named Steve Roggenbuck, who is more of a visual artist than a poet, performing most of his stuff on YouTube. But really, I consume so much poetry that I stumble across things every day that I fall in love with.
How do you first start writing a poem? Does it come to you out of the blue, or do you have a set time where you meet with your Muse each day and let the words just … come? Has your idea of what poetry is changed since you began writing poetry?
I wait for it to come to me. No set time, but when I think of a line or a phrase or just see something I feel I could write about I stop whatever I’m doing (unless I’m using heavy machinery!), put my headphones on, play some Arvo Part or Brian Eno and just write. It comes out as one, long line which I then edit down later once I’ve had the chance to look at it properly. Poems can take me five minutes or five hours, but it’s usually the former. I write very quickly and just try to imbue everything with passion, love and emotion.
My earlier poetry was very heavily Bukowski-esque. It was almost all monologues and pumped up versions of things that have happened to me. I have traveled quite a bit and had a fairly unusual life, so I had material! But once it started drying up, I adapted. I now write sparser, more spiritual poems with a smattering of Quantum Mechanics thrown in for good measure.
Are you on Facebook or Twitter or any other social media? Does that fit into your writing life, and if so, how?
I tried, I really did, to love Facebook. But I can’t bring myself to be that interested in other people’s breakfasts. I am on Twitter but mainly to keep posting my work via the website Write Out Loud. WOL is my main source of getting my work out there; it’s a wonderful site full of good poets and people who actually read your work.
Do you have a writing group or community of writers you share your work with? Who are they? What are you reading right now?
I perform every now and then but my poetry never really comes out that well on stage. I am getting better but nerves and a lack of practice cursed me up until now. So no real network other than the one online at WOL.
I am currently reading ‘Island’ by Aldous Huxley and ‘The Quantum Universe’ by Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw alongside endless streams of poetry from magazines, books and online. Aldous Huxley is a wonderful author and his book ‘The Doors of Perception’ is the reason I am married with kids! I met my wife online via a philosophy blog I was writing and recommended the book to her. Eight years later here we are!
What words of encouragement can you offer other poets who are trying to get their work noticed?
I have found poetry is 50% writing and 50% submitting. There are pages dedicated to calls for submissions where lists of people who want work advertise. Get your work out on sites where people can comment. Poets are like sponges, we exist on praise. It will give you confidence to keep writing. Always have a notebook with you. My favourite poem I ever wrote came from one word I wrote down in my notebook at 3 am in the morning. Don’t give up and read, read, read. You have to read.