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 grew up with two cultures, so I was very familiar with German kinderlieder –
nursery rhymes and playground songs. Later I found my Dad’s book of Kipling’s poetry and was fascinated by it. I began keeping a journal around the age of twelve or thirteen. I often wrote poetry in it and eventually it became almost entirely poems, quotes, and notes of something said that had impressed upon me. In school, I encountered Ted Hughs and his landscapes, some Hilaire Belloc and W.H. Auden. My favourite poets are Patrick Kavanagh, Rainer Maria Rilke, Pablo Neruda, Elizabeth Bishop, W. B. Yeats, Simon Armitage and Sylvia Plath. I also read Frank Mundo, Helene Cordona and Brendan Constantine.
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 guess I have a method, but also methods within that method. I tend to ‘land’ on a thought which might swirl madly in my head for a few days before I start to write. Other times something pops into my mind and I need to capture it in writing immediately. Sometimes a poem emerges from that, with alterations, rewrites, tweaking etc. I have sometimes submitted a poem and a tweak will come to me as the poem is probably dropping into an editor’s inbox. My muse is the view from my window. It overlooks a part of the harbour next to which I live. I see the entrance of the harbour in the distance, often watch the ferries coming in from France and the Channel Islands, I see the ferry which goes from one side of the harbour mouth to the other side. Lights twinkle at night in the village over there, and there are boat’s lights and the beacons. The moods of this part of the harbour move me – sunny days with azure water and skies, or fluffy white clouds. Grey skies which show the rain on the far side of the water, stormy skies, lightning, mist and fog rolling in. The sounds. Tugs and fishing boats chugging, the seagulls squealing ‘mine, mine!’. The call of other sea birds and the song of garden birds too. The wind is almost a continuous sound in winter, and I find it comforting to hear the howling and wailing of it. In summer and fair weather yachts are very much part of the scape, sailing dinghys and a few windsurfers and kayakers.
My poetry has changed, although my subjects are diverse. I started out thinking it should rhyme somewhere, although I rarely rhyme at line endings. Poetry is like a painting, a book, a sculpture…it says something different to different readers, and that is not my business. The poem is no longer ‘mine’. Poetry can, does and should have something to say about society, the world, the aches of others, injustice, peace. I think poetry is a peacemaking tool, a moment captured, a thought expressed, a written photo. I am hounded with self-doubt. I rarely ‘like’ my poetry once it is published but find, years later, it is like a familiar memory. Some editors have scorned me for this and told me I need a psychiatrist. That is their poverty of spirit. Self-doubt keeps us sharp, hones us and makes us better poets. We journey with our poetry.
Are you on Facebook or Twitter or any other social media? Does that fit into your writing life, and if so, how?
Yes, You can find me on both Facebook and Twitter. I find submission windows through these, through my peers with whom I have contact and really enjoy opportunities to read their poetry, know they have had a book published. I learn from them too. Every poet teaches me, leaves something. My blog also brings contact with poets which I enjoy, it’s a source of treasures.
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 do have local poets with whom I share, our former Poet Laureate has been a great encouragement to me and I kind of miss him though he’s only an email away. Brendan Constantine picked me up when I was stuck and had writer’s block. He energized me in a way no one else has and I’m so grateful. I am currently reading The Shock of The Fall, which I’ve started again. It’s engrossing and a different way of seeing life.
What words of encouragement can you offer other poets who are trying to get their work noticed?
Keep writing. Read the poetry of others. Keep on submitting, but read the guidelines carefully. Every so often a rejection email will come with great feedback. Don’t give up. Get noticed by being published by many journals or poetry websites. Go to readings, get up at the open mic. Be brave.