interview

Interview with Poet Robin Williams – Installment 7

This month’s Poet is talented beyond her years with 6 publications in just 2 years! Robin Williams’ poetry is as much of a fighter and activist as she is, standing for equality, lgbt+ rights, mental heath, and more. Along with poetry, Robin lets her creativity out in short stories, polymer clay designs, and hand-made crafts. This artist is just getting started, so let’s get to know Robin now!

Your poems focus heavily on an array of sensitive subjects, are there poems that are just so raw that they will never be shared with an audience?

Every poem I’ve ever written has most likely been shared with an audience. There are times I do write a piece that is very raw and I question myself if it should be shared, but a big part of me thinks that it must be shared. I feel that not only am I reflecting myself through my art to heal and analyze, but that someone somewhere is doing the same thing when reading my poetry. Together, we face the raw moments in life and I think that really makes a difference to those who feel like they’re alone in the world.

What was the idea behind publishing April Showers Bring May Flowers and Scars of Apollo just one day apart?

Scars of Apollo had been a planned announcement for almost a year and a half. April Showers bring May Flowers just sort of swept in through the window during the poetry month of April. It really all was just a spur of the moment but it made sense in the end. SoA was to bring healing, to share healing, and ASbMF delivered that healing further through being a collection for donations.

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Check out more photos from Robin’s Instagram

 

With six published collections (which is extremely impressive in 2 years time!), do you have a favorite?

(Thank you!) My books are literally my children and as every parent knows, to pick a favorite is the worst thing you could do. But I must say, yes, I have a favorite. Scars of Apollo has really brought me so much growth and positivity that my life has taken a trek in the best direction. Of course, I’m very proud of my other works, but SoA is my future and I like that alot.

 

I know you stand for a lot of causes, is there anything that’s really inspiring your current poetry in particular?

I’m at a mix between wanting to stir up some work that introduces readers to what I believe in, (I’m tasting a bit of witchcraft at the moment) and really breaking down my past year in reporting sexual assault. I think many people find it hard to not only grasp the horrible events many face, but hard to also share those events. I’ve seen my poetry taking on the role of a fighter who is many emotions; anger, guilt, regret, happiness, relief, and determination. Pulling strings from all parts of myself has set a sail within that I hope more people will board.

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See more hand-made creations from Robin’s FactioMagicis shop

How did you get into creating polymer clay designs?

It all started with YouTube. I consider myself very crafty; I enjoy getting my hands messy, leaving paper scraps everywhere, and letting glue stick to the table and my fingers. When I came across some videos of how to craft the polymer clay, I was immediately intrigued and purchased some clay the next day. From there, I went through trial and error to get the creations I wanted. It turned out to not only be a fun activity in my spare time, but proved to be a little therapeutic. I’ve even decided to include some in my new subscription boxes!

 

To get in touch with Robin or purchase one of her many creations, you can reach out –

on Instagram, on Amazon, on her blog, and on her shop !

Blog Tour Author Interview and Review by Beckie Writes

Where I Ache consists of 6 chapters, which one is your favorite?
I feel like saying My Soothing Arms, the self love chapter, would be too cliche and easy so I’m not going to pick that one. Instead, I’ll say My Weak Spine, the insecure/ self esteem chapter, is my favorite. I didn’t think I would be able to write about that topic in so many unique ways. I feel like different readers can all find a little piece of themselves just in that one chapter.

 

Now that you have two collections, are you playing favorites?
I honestly thought my first creative baby would always hold a special place in my heart. But I am so proud of the progress I’ve made in Where I Ache that it’s won me over. I’m thrilled that the collection is longer and I’ve more than double the amount of exclusive poems. I’m also proud to be writing about such sensitive topics and expanding my reach beyond just love poems. Lastly, I was able to work with my boyfriend on this second collection with him as my illustrator! He saved the day from my chicken scratch doodles haha.

 

Buy your copy of Where I Ache on Amazon

 

Read the full interview at Beckie Writes

Blog Tour Author Spotlight by Morgan Hazelwood

Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that doesn’t work for you.

Read other poets.

One piece of advice I’ve been told is to read a lot of other poetry to become a better poet and that just hasn’t held any value or truth for me. For one, I fear I’ll end up nearly plagiarizing another poet on a subconscious level. And secondly, I just end up judging their poems as a reader rather than drawing inspiration for it.

Definitely a tricky thing, especially with poetry. It’s hard to know what might inspire you.

 

Read the full interview here on Morgan’s website

Blog Tour Torrid Literature Interview

How do you deal with writer’s block? What is your advice on how to overcome it?

Writer’s block usually comes when there’s pressure to write about a certain topic or a deadline is fast approaching. For me, I tend to get inspiration driving around and attending concerts and musicals so I try to listen to music to help get the words flowing. My advice would be to learn where you get inspiration from and to not force work just because you’re running out of time. Allow yourself some peace as you allow inspiration in from the art around you and the words will come to you.

 

Can you tell us about your challenges in getting this book completed and published?

This collection seemed to have a lot more moving parts than the first collection, so it was difficult to keep everything organized the way I wanted. The most challenging thing for me when writing any collection is writing the new, exclusive poems for that particular collection. For me, it’s a challenge to force myself to write about a particular topic on demand. I also need to write about this topic in a different perspective from all the other poems in my collection to avoid redundancy.

 

Read the full interview here on Torrid Literature 

Interview with Poet Eeva Maria al-Khazaali – Installment 6

Today’s Poet is greeting us all the way from Finland! Eeva is well educated in the arts as she has studied Creative Writing in Orivesi College of Arts, Performing Arts in University of Bedfordshire, and Film Studies in University of Wolverhampton. Her work is now being translated into English and it’s an honor to be supporting her in this next step of her writing career.

 

The summary of your collection That I Would Dream About It had a line that really stuck out to me – “she is obsessed about the idea of women writing history and making their own stories heard”. How does this drive affect your work and your thoughts on the poetry community?

I feel that it is crucially important to make those stories heard that have been silenced and who don’t have their voices heard in the society. It is the stories (and poems) of the unrepresented minorities who need this the most. I would like to write herstory, instead of history – literature that tells a women’s stories instead of the history of white privileged men. In the poetry community of my home country I have walked in the middle of networking meetings and events to take my place in the midst of men.

I have faced so many young male art students and artists in my life that have said that I am a little girl, especially when I was not yet published, that I will not be able to ever do anything important with my life and my writing. I have proven them wrong with hard work and resilience, despite what people had told me before.

 

What does it mean for you personally and your writing career to have your work translated and marketed in a second language?

Personally, I learned to speak English at the age of 5. It means a lot to me to have translated my own work in something that I could call my second language. I have spoken English for so long that it felt comfortable to write the translation myself. Having my words in English, out there in the great big world, has made me more confident on impacting lives around the globe. Finland, where I am from, has a very small population and even less actual readers of poetry. This means that my words would have never had the chance to spread wide if it wasn’t to being published in English, too. It excites me to see the world take my book away, whatever it may.

 

Your line breaks are very deliberate and well thought out, what’s been your thought process behind that writing style decision?

The free verse poetry made a break-through in my home country post-world war II, in the 1950’s. It was then when the lines started to finally break in the middle of the verse. The feminist poets of that time have made me understand the special qualities of language in a line break: it sounds more sinister, more mature, more like literature. (Insert some laughter here). Instead of writing in monotone, I can use the style of writing in a more vivid and rhythmic way, even if I will never write verses in rhyme. But maybe then I will be old school again when the spoken word and rap will have their way and everything will be tied to rhyme again in poems. I just have personally hated rhyme in poems all my life and my line breaks as the necessary structure.

 

What growth did you notice from your first collection to your second?

I saw tremendous growth from my debut collection to my second book! I could have not believed how much my expressions could expand and live through-out those years in between of these books. My debut was prose poetry in a dramatic narration. It was an experiment as such but now I feel so free doing what I do, writing in free verse with a clear voice, as lucid as I can. I have always admired writers who have managed to write in such precise ways – and now, in my early 30’s I feel I have finally reached the point where I can rely on my senses and my experiences in life enough to speak not only for myself but to aim to speak for all others who might not have had the chance to speak for themselves before.

 

You’ve started a new project, I Want You, have you always wanted to make a jump into movies?

My full-length debut movie is indeed in post-production at the moment. I have always been interested in the poetics of film. As a young writer I was fascinated by the relationship of light, space and time in fine art and in correlation to writing. I did little research on how light is written about and watched a lot of art house movies a decade ago, not knowing one day that research would be taken to a film set and action.

Marguerite Duras wrote a film that inspired me back then a lot: Hiroshima mon amour. An idea to write about in a language for the silver screen had me dream about it ever since I saw the movie. I am saying that language can be gentle like light – or ashes. It can portray a world that was once hidden or invisible and our movie, I Want You, tries to experiment on those aspects of cinematic expression and poetics of film in a dialogue that is written as a narrative voice over the whole movie.

It was not a jump I had planned to go from poems to screenwriting. It just happened one day when I went to a 24/7 gas station to write. I wrote for 8 solid hours and came back home tears in my eyes, realizing I had written my first real movie. Now I am on to my second movie script with a team. I cannot speak a lot about that project yet but it is about a very sensitive and fragile topic. I will let you know more when it goes to production!

 

Click here to get your copy of Eeva’s collection That I Would Dream About It!

Blog Tour Random Musings Author Interview

Tell us a little bit about your books

My first book focused on a journey of love lost then found. Not all poems are happy, as not all of love is. I hope each reader can find comfort and strength to continue on their own journey of love.

Where I Ache focuses on various aspects of mental health such as depression and self esteem. Mental health can be such a delicate topic and often gets avoided because of that. I knew I wanted to publish this collection so that the readers could be their own little community of support and unity.

 

What, for you, is the best thing about being a writer?

The best is probably when you’ve created something better than you ever thought you could. A few poems really wow me with some impressive lines of creativity. It’s also so special when a reader connects with a poem and you’ve helped them articulate exactly what they’ve been feeling inside.

 

read the whole interview here at My Random Musings – Author Interview

and buy your copy of Where I Ache here !

 

Interview with Poet Shelby Eileen – Installment 5

I’m so happy to welcome our next poet Shelby, who released her latest collection Goddess of the Hunt this February. Shelby is really blazing her own path in poetry with this collection as she reimagines greek goddess Artemis’ navigation through her own aromanticism and asexuality.  Aside from her great writing, Shelby’s honest, funny, and sweet personality shines through in this interview so take a look!

 

Is one of your books your favourite and why?

Depends on my mood, honestly! I feel like my books are on rotation for which one’s my
favourite at any given time. Sometimes I love them all and sometimes I hate them all. This is a wishy washy answer but IT’S THE TRUTH!!! I think it’s hard to choose because I truly put the same amount of effort and emotion and courage into all of them to make them real and to make them available so their value is completely equal to me.

 

Can you tell us more about the importance of representing aromanticism and asexuality in Goddess of The Hunt for the poetry community?

Yes! It was really important to me, and I hope to other people, that I represented aromanticism and asexuality so unapologetically in GoTH for many reasons. As a poet, I want to push the boundaries of what I’m writing, what’s being consumed in the modern poetic canon, and what embodies “poetry”. I don’t want people to believe that the only poetry that comes from modern poets is love and heartbreak poetry. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that kind of thematic poetry! I’ve written it in the past, and I’m going to write more of it in the future, but it’s so important to me that we explore different types of narratives and relationships in poetry (and other genres) in an effort to normalize such experiences outside of the standard heteronormative alloromantic and allosexual experience.
I wrote an aroace Artemis because I’m an aroace person who craves representation in strong, central roles, not just in side characters or characters who are mistreated and discarded in a narrative and are shown no respect for their identity. Marginalized people have very little media to consume that’s actually safe and authentic. I wanted GoTH to be a safe, powerful, uplifting book for aro/ace spec people in the poetry community, but also one that didn’t pretend that aro/ace spec people don’t face ignorance because that’s not reality. I wrote what I find to be the most comforting rep when I read it in other stories; a character who comes up against obstacles but ultimately overcomes them by knowing their own self-worth, and gaining confidence to be who they truly are, and encourage others to do the same.

Can you take us through your publishing process?

Self-publishing is such a unique process that probably looks different for everyone who does it, and my own process is far from perfected, even though I’ve gone through it 3+ times. Basically, I write the thing first. Once I have a complete manuscript (or at least approx. 80% complete manuscript- minus editing!), I reach out to an artist for a cover commission (shoutout to my most favourtie cover artist, Izza Thapa- @iz_draws on insta). The cover is super important to me because the complete freedom to make the cover exactly what you want it to be is a major privilege in publishing as a whole. Once I get the ball rolling on the cover, or maybe even at the same time as I’m doing that, I set up my new book on KDP and Goodreads (KDP is Kindle Direct Publishing- the platform I use to publish my paperbacks and ebooks). After my manuscript is written and I have the basic technical aspects set up, then I usually do a deep dive into editing.

Then I get a critique partner (or a few) involved so that I can do another round of edits based on an outside perspective because at this point, I’m probably so tired of my own manuscript and think it’s trash. After all the editing, I write the dedication and acknowledgements (always I do this last, I find these two things really hard to write!). Last thing I do (usually with the help of my sweet fellow author friend, M Hollis- @mhollis on twitter) is format my manuscript for kindle compatibility. When I first started self-publishing, the kindle aspect confused the hell out of me and it’s still the thing I’m least competent with so it’s become habit for me to leave it to the very last.

And after all that (that which doesn’t much feel like a “process” more like a jumbled mess of writing, rereading what I wrote, editing, tinkering on KDP, and leaning on the kindness and competence of my artist/publishing/author friends) I have a book ready for the world. Input all the remaining info necessary on KDP and Goodreads, and hit publish!

 

What makes a poem good in your opinion?

In my very own specific opinion (which is unimportant in the grand scheme of things), a poem is good if it comes from the heart and survives editing with the same vibe and intention that it began with. It’s a good poem if it expresses an emotion or relays a circumstance that I can’t personally relate to but feel moved by anyway. It’s a good poem if having gotten the words out of you gives you a sense of both peace and pride.

 

Thanks so much for taking the time to be apart of this Shelby!! Buy Goddess of the Hunt here, Connect with Shelby on Twitter and check out her other collections on Goodreads!

 

Blog Tour: Here is my interview with Megan O’Keeffe (AuthorsInterviews)

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Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?

MO: I guess I started to consider myself a writer when I launched my blog Debatably Dateable. Before that I wasn’t consistently sharing my work and had actually tried to stop writing a few times.

Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?

MO: All the positive feedback I was receiving from my blog really encouraged me to put a collection together. I wanted the collection to tell a cohesive story and was inspired deeply by love and love lost. Love poems are really a cornerstone of my writing but I’ve been evolving into various topics.

Fiona: How did you come up with the title of your new book?

MO: The book Where I Ache focuses on depression, self esteem, grief, and self love and there’s a lot of mental and physical pain here. The chapters refer to different parts of the body (head, heart, spine) focusing on different parts of where the speaker is aching.

 

Read the rest via Here is my interview with Megan O’Keeffe

Thanks so much for the interview Fiona!

 

 

how to come up with a Book marketing strategy

Marketing your book is tough business and your book’s success depends on your ability to get it right. I’m going to tell you how to implement a book marketing strategy using the 5 month timeline of my book release. Just a heads up, most research would suggest marketing 12-6 months out.

 

Beta Readers / Marketing Research

Early february – Beta readers play two important parts for an author. First, they are a fresh set of eyes that can find any last minute mistakes. They’re a great tool for marketing too since they’re your first focus group on your new project. Their initially feedback will help you learn how first time readers will interpret your book. This will help you decide how you will want to market your book and what you want to draw a reader’s attention to. You can ask beta readers (focus groups) specific questions that may be concerning you and they may bring to light questions you hadn’t considered.

 

Blog Tour

Mid march – Blog tours are a great marketing tool where different bloggers will reviews your book, interview you, or just share information about your book. Blog tours are a big scheduling task though so getting it organized early will save you a headache later. For my release, I’ll be contacting poet interviewers now and hopefully start the tour in early may and have it finish the week before the release date. Since I’m leaning towards interviewing, the more time I have to answer questions, the less stressful the marketing release process will be for me.

 

ARCs

April – By Late February you have the feedback from your beta readers and you’ve made your final changes to the collection. Now you’re ready to send out ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) to book bloggers, fellow poets, and anyone else that will help market your book. Free ARCs are given to readers in exchange for their honest review of your book. If you’re selling on Amazon, it’s super important to have a lot of reviews close to your release date to boost your book in the rankings. The higher in the rankings you are, the more people will see your book and consider purchasing it.

 

More Frequent Posting

May – We’re 6 weeks out from release date and it’s time to pick up the marketing. This is when my blog tour starts, this is when you’re highlighting reviews that have been coming in due to your ARCs, and when you’re posting on all social medias so that everyone knows when and where to buy your book! Support and momentum are really important during the weeks surrounding your release date!

 

Celebrate!

Release Date – June 10th! You’re book is officially released! Time to shout it to the world and celebrate!! You’ve just accomplished something super amazing! Continue to love on your book, but try not to drown your followers in too much noise. Congratulations and best of luck to your book!

 

Interview with Poet Catarine Hancock – Installment 4

Catarine Hancock is the 19 year old poet of 3 poetry collections with her newest out just this month! Love and feminism heavily influence her work in all formats and lengths. When not writing, Catarine is a student and opera singer – let’s get to meeting her!

It is so inspiring that you have THREE published collections and you’re not even 20 yet! That is such an amazing achievement! What are your plans for your writing career?

Thank you! Honestly, I have no clue where writing will take me. I am also a music student in college, and I see that as my main focus. I hope I can always keep writing in my life, and release many more books, but I am not planning on abandoning music for it. I want to be able to do both, for as long as I can.

A few months ago you told me that you have proofs sent multiple times while you’re writing your book, can you explain your writing/ publishing process more?

One of my favorite things about being self-published is that I have complete control over my writing process. I can set my own deadlines, do all the editing I need, order as many proofs as I want, and more. I like to take my time while writing a book, and I don’t write well under pressure. Something I learned from my previous collections was that I could not ‘guess’ when I would finish writing a collection. That’s why, with ‘shades of lovers,’ I originally set the tentative publication date for fall of 2019, rather than spring. I started writing it in early spring of last year, as soon as ‘how the words come’ came out.
However, I know that I often go through phases of intense writing, followed by periods of barely being able to write a single stanza. I accounted for that when I decided to publish this collection. It just so happened that I had more good writing days than bad, and finished it ahead of schedule! As far as proofs go, I order them throughout to check things like formatting, the cover, and also to take promotional photos so I can begin marketing early.

What advice would you give to other young poets looking to get started on their career?

My best advice is to make authentic connections. Be supportive of other poets. Engage with their work. Buy their books. And don’t–I cannot stress this enough– just aim to connect with poets who are ‘big’. Form friendships and bonds with poets who are just like you; young, new, still learning. That is how you become part of this community! You will get noticed by the ‘bigshots’ all in due time. My other advice is to read. Read, read, read. Read as many poetry books as you can. It keeps your inspiration flowing and it shows that you support your fellow poets!

What do you hope readers will take away from your newest collection Shades of Lovers?

I hope Shades of Lovers delivers a message of love and positivity. It is a story of heartbreak and healing, of all kinds of relationships, of growth and forgiveness. While it is very personal to me, I think that everybody can find something in it that relates to something they’ve gone through.
Buy her newest collection here  and connect with Catarine on Twitter and Instagram

Interview with Susi Bocks – Installment 3

Susi Bocks is so inspirational to the poetry community. She works on her craft everyday, finding the unique and beautiful all around her. The poetry community is about challenging each other and pushing each other up to reach higher. That’s exactly what Susi does every week with her weekly Haiku Challenge on her blog, IWriteHer, as it’s her favorite poetry style. Thank you so much, Susi, for taking the time to do this interview and giving me some extra motivation I didn’t realize I needed.

 

How do you find the motivation to write something new every single day?

It feels like the urgency and the drive to write is always sitting right below my fingertips. Not sure if this relates back to when I first learned to type and fell in love with pounding the keys. Let’s hope it’s more because I think I have something to say. Haha! But couple that desire though with any number of catalysts which present themselves to me daily and there isn’t a day which goes by that I’m not writing. It could be about anything.

For instance, having profound thoughts about a piece written by another author which has impressed me, an evocative image, answering these questions, wanting to be engaged with a writing prompt/challenge, or me needing to be understood about something particularly relevant in that moment. I do have a need to be heard. And it probably stems from early childhood where my voice was frequently drowned out or dismissed by those who should have been listening. Add to that, I’m very driven to check off that box at the end of the day. So not writing would certainly leave me feeling like it wasn’t a productive day.

 

What did you learn after publishing Feeling Human that you implemented for Every day I Pause?

The biggest challenge with Feeling Human was that it was the first one! There was so much I did not know about self-publishing and had to learn which helped me tremendously with the second. Formatting Every Day I Pause was still an arduous task considering the number of pages this one contained but it was made much simpler by knowing the basics. It also took much less time pulling it together because I was better organized better. I think knowing how to set things up and understanding the preparation required to publish another book made it so much easier. So the next book will hopefully be a piece of cake!

What’s your favorite style of poetry?

2018 was the year for me to discover and learn many forms of poetry, and it was the reason I posted once a day. I felt it would help me understand more about poetry itself but also help me find what was actually most preferable. After I was pulling together all the poetry for Every Day I Pause, I discovered that roughly thirteen percent of the poems written were in the style of Haiku. This showed me, like with most things in my life, I’m attracted to brevity. I recently posted about it called Concise Thoughts https://iwriteher.com/2019/01/21/concise-thoughts/
It’s a wonderful feeling when I think I can say so much in only three lines. And I love reading another writer’s work when it can so quickly and easily take my breath away. That level of quality is impressive.

 

What made you decide to publish your work?

I think it goes back to that feeling of wanting to be heard. Once I realized I was committed to writing, it just came natural to me that the next step would be making my thoughts known publicly, whether on the blogs I’ve had over the years or in book form. Feeling Human ended up being a very different book than I had imagined my first one would be. Back in 2014 or 2015, I had wanted to write about my dysfunctional family primarily because both my parents had died. Three months into it I had to put it aside because it was just way too depressing.

Then I made the best decision ever, took a trip to see my best friend on the East Coast. While I was there, the idea to collaborate with her was born. See she is an incredible artist and her work added so much value to the book; there was no way I could do this without her. Every chapter was prefaced with her beautiful interpretation of the emotion I was trying to express through my writing and poetry. It was an honor to publish this initial book with her, plus she gave me the courage to see it through. Now, that I’ve done both books, I just feel spurned on to do more of the same.

 

Please tell us how you got from “I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up to being a published author of two books – one predominantly poetry – in your mid-50s.

Never in a million years did I think I would be writing poetry but here I am! It really feels like home. A place to understand myself better and find creativity within that I didn’t know I possessed. And it’s such a positive place to be when for most of my life, I’ve felt like I was surrounded by negativity. It’s odd but wonderful to feel satisfied and validated but that is what writing ultimately did for me. Sometimes, I wish I had come to that conclusion sooner but maybe I wouldn’t have appreciated it as much as I do now.

 

What do you feel are the characteristics about yourself that you are most proud of?

Dependability, honesty, strong sense of justice – and I hope that comes through in my writing as well.

 

What pivotal moment did you realize that you wanted to write?

In November 2010 I attended a convention. There were so many young, talented people in their 20s and 30s surrounding me and I had to ask myself “here I am at 48 and what am I doing?” I took about a month to really evaluate what it was that gave me joy and satisfaction. The common thread of everything that I loved – reading, lyrics of music, what I adored in school (book reports – oral and written, literature), what I enjoyed at home (reading, debating, talking) – was words.

I loved words and I especially had a desire to be heard using those lovely words I knew so well. I started my first blog – Susi’s Soap Box, and this is where it all began to fall into place for me. It eventually evolved into a more serene place called PhiloSusi. This is where I started dabbling in writing poetry. Then came the first book – Feeling Human, and my blog – IWriteHer, and recently Every Day I Pause.

 

Get in touch with Susi and Her Books:

Amazon

Blog

 

Interview with Poet Christopher Perry – Installment 2

Christopher has three poems published in a NYC publication of short love poems that have been translated into Farsi with the translation being printed alongside the original English. He’s such a dedicated writer and he has plenty of knowledge to share with you so let’s hop into this interview! And for more of Chris’s work, you can find his blog here).

I see you have a section on your website dedicated to Haikus. What made you fall in love with the form? Do you prefer strict form or free verse?

Writing haiku is at first glance a simple task, a bit like following a yoga routine every morning to set your mind right for the day ahead. Like a yoga session it is a challenge to focus the mind on the form. I do love writing haiku; particularly the discipline required to utilise the 17 syllables in such a way that there is a twist in the images being created in so few words. It is a test of vocabulary and phrasing to produce maximum effect. It also teaches you to struggle with word choices and word order to get maximum value within the box.

I work particularly hard to form a three word phrase from the first words of each of the three lines that make sense if taken alone. It is very satisfying to do this when the phrase adds to the moral of the 17 syllable form and a real hit when the first words
of each line and the last words of each line can be written to create this effect. A friend of mine has called this form of haiku the Haiku-o (Haiku-tail). It is like a word suduko and hours can disappear working at such a puzzle.

With regard to free verse or strict form I feel that free verse is great for drafting longer poetic ideas. However, when redrafting I consider whether specific word choices, or the number of lines used and the stanza lengths can be drawn into a pattern of some form, but this rarely ends up in a strict form of poetry.

 

I really enjoyed reading your poems in the NYC publication, how did it feel to have your work in front of such an audience?

Thank you for saying that you enjoyed reading the three short love poems published in Persian Sugar in English Tea – Volume 3. These were my first published poems and from my first ever submission. I thought that getting poetry published was easy when I got the acknowledgement, but then I was reminded that I had not submitted enough work yet to make such a judgement!

Now I am very grateful to have had something published, particularly about love, a subject that every poet on earth writes about. Possible Side Effects was written in 2008 and had only previously been shared with the person it was written for, so it was good to see it out there. In the Garden had led to my selection as poet of the day in the NaPoWriMo (National Write A Poem A Day Month – now a global writing challenge) in April 2018.

That was written on April 5th and selected over-night for that honour. Again, it was very flattering to see recognition of a spontaneous love poem in hard print. The third poem True Love was written on my birthday last year as a gift to my best friend, so she was thrilled to see it published, which made me very happy too.

 

A fair amount of the poems on your blog are inspired by Nature, what else inspires your writing?

The inspiration for all of my writing is movement and change. I am always (we all are) on the move and life is movement as nothing stays the same forever.

It is easy to be critical of change and to hold nostalgic feelings for the way things were. It is equally possible to presume today is an improvement on yesterday and that tomorrow will be better still.

As I travel through life I try to keep my eyes and ears open and write about what is happening around me and make connections with things I have seen and learnt. I am outside a lot which brings me closer to nature and the nature of people – the staples of poetry writing.

 

What made you take to writing seriously in later life?

When I was younger the stories of Graham Greene held my imagination and inspired me to think that I might have something to write about. I then spent my time getting an education, chasing a career, paying a mortgage, raising a family and spending 15 years teaching in a large secondary school. I was quite busy and always thought that I would like to be a writer when I get the chance, whenever that might have been.

I always write travel journals during holidays and started one or two page-a-day diaries, but never took it seriously until I attended a poetry reading at Books Books Books, (the English bookshop in Lausanne run by Matthew Wake). The reading was organised by the Geneva Writers’ Group. There I was told by one of the organisers that I should stop saying I would like to write and start calling myself a writer. As in a haiku, changing the words a little can have a huge impact. This was the moment I became a serious writer.

 

Which poets have influenced your writing?

When I consider my literary education I remember specific moments of insight that came from reading Pike by Ted Hughes, hearing a class-mate reading The Day My Pad Went Mad by Dr. John Cooper-Clarke and To His Coy Mistress by John Donne. All very different and all equally inspiring. I think that I was very lucky to have been born at a time when the Beat Poets had laid down a new pathway for poetry.

The greatest influence of all has been the lyrics of Bob Dylan. His story-telling captured in his album Blood on the Tracks is the ultimate poetic trip for me. It is not just what he says, but what he leaves out that allows the listener to fill gaps with his, or her own pictures that I find so brilliant.

It is impossible to tell how much one is influenced by individual writers. Every poet tries to speak with an original voice, so I just hope that what I write is distinctive enough to be worth the reader’s attention and gives some pleasure.

 

Why is writing important to you?

What a difficult question! I think that writing helps me make sense of the world I inhabit. Writing is a way of engaging with others. Writing is also an entertainment for me that costs nothing, which when done well, can also give pleasure to others. For example, I get a particular buzz from taking part in poetry open mic sessions. Finally writing is important because I am not passing through life passively, but taking part in life.