A Ten Question Interview With The Artist… Gareth Spark

Why do you write?

Tempted to answer “because I’ve been doing it so long, I can’t stop now.” I can tell you why I think I write – because there is something I need to capture. Some fleeting quality of the world as seen from the small portion of it I occupy, knowing that nobody else understands this heartbreak stained day, or that sun-battered afternoon, or the easy joy of jumping on a bus early on a winter morning headed someplace new. Because I have this awful fear that, everything I’ve ever done or seen, every last smile and hillside, will be rendered meaningless unless it has somebody bear witness to it.

What books do you read?

I read a lot of history, a lot of short stories and poetry published independently on-line. I read everything I can grab a hold of, but mainly small press stuff. That’s where the gold is.

What inspires you?

The lachrimae rerum, the “tears in things”; my own fathomless confusion and hope that, one day, there’ll be an answer; moss-barked oaks; the memory of bonfire nights and summer fairs and beaten up arcades; hot dogs and cold beer in July; B-movies; love; envy; broken down husks of cars rusting in long grass; the wind blowing snow from mountains of coal in the yard at work; true wildness; sincerity in Art; my Grandmother’s stories; salt from a grey sea; the wrecked iron of ships; seaweed waving in a cold pool under the fog; courage in all it’s forms.

How did you know you wanted to be a writer and when?

I’ve always written something, from short stories in school to song lyrics when I was in a band, to at least 5 half finished novels that littered my twenties like abandoned suits of armour. I published a chapbook of Poems in 2000, a couple more over the next 8 years or so. Then I wrote mainly stories up until around three years back, which have now been collected and published under the title Snake Farm – these days I’m back into writing Poetry in a big way.

How do you deal with rejection?

Better than I used to! I remember back when I was 15 and I’d written these few mawkish poems; real sentimental, quasi-Byronic rhymed things with no metre about, I don’t know, the sky or some other vague nebulous concept…there was one called ‘Winter’ I remember. I wrapped them all up with a self-addressed envelope and sent them to this big shot poet I admired (well, as big a shot as any poet can be in this world) who ran a press. Around a month later they came BACK in that envelope…no accompanying note, no card, nothing, not even a “Dear Gareth, we received your poems. Fuck you. Yours sincerely etc. etc.” Nothing. And, I’m not ashamed to admit it, I cried…cried like the kid I was. It was the first of hundreds of rejections and, you know, I look back at that and laugh. Of course, they were rejected, they were terrible, and most likely the 50 poems after that were terrible, but then a day came I wrote something that seemed true, and wasn’t maybe so bad.  I know there are a million and one reasons a piece can be turned down by a journal…and some poems of mine that have been rejected a half dozen times, say, have gone on to win prizes, or be published by somebody else successfully.

Who are some writers you admire?

The writer I admire more than any other writer working today has to be Scott MacClanahan. His work burns, it has that true tone of genius, more than anything else I read out there today. He writes with great lucidity and great depth about a life I recognise. His work avoids every kind of formulaic trap and stylistic tic handed out alongside MFAs and degrees in Creative Writing. He’s an iconoclast, a true original, a writer whose absolute honesty and artistic integrity I envy with all my heart. He can move you to tears and have you weak with laughter in 500 words. His work is a tremendous gift and a righteous answer to conservative practitioners of fiction.
I also have to mention Garrett Schuelke, who wrote ‘Anamakee’, probably the best example of dirty realism I have read in a hell of a long time and a truly amazing dissection of modern small town life, and three poets, William Taylor Jr., Joel Landmine and Juliet Escoria. These are all writers you need to get into your life.

Is writing the only artistic medium you do?

I used to paint and draw, you know, Edward Hopper kind of stuff but had to give it up because I was moving around so much and the places I was living didn’t offer the kind of space you need to paint in oils with any real seriousness. I write screenplays too, nothing produced, and I’m looking into making a short film in the near future, but I want to make it with FILM rather than digitally, which presents some difficulties. I think visually and my poems always have some degree of pictorial quality. I’m not an aural, ‘swimmin’ in the language sea’ sort of writer. It has to be clear and the edges should be sharp, like a shot from a Paradjanov film.

What would be some advice you would give to your younger self?

Be fearless. Don’t NOT go for things because you’re afraid you can’t do them because you’re too young, or old, or inexperienced, or that you might screw it up and lose face/money/a relationship. You will not lose anything near as precious as all those years when you could have been doing the things you loved and wanted to do more than anything in the world. That’s a ‘lost forever’ kind of deal. So go for it and give it everything you have.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Reject rejection, and keep writing. Write for you first, until the day comes you can’t lift a pen. Learn enough about structure to construct an interesting narrative, yeah, but don’t be afraid of stepping outside the genres and rules and boundaries that commerce has forced onto literature. Art shouldn’t be just a subset of the entertainment industry, it should be ART, by which I mean it should offer some kind of transformative experience, some kind of revelation. If you’re afraid, don’t bother trying, and when you feel you’re work is being pushed into a box, whether by the market, or editors, or agents, push back! Reach inside and write something crazy only you could write. Give your vision some fire, and set it out to burn as long and as bright as it can. That would be my advice.

What is your writing process?

I work a day job in a warehouse, which is tough physically. That means I’m usually too beat up to write anything of an evening. Therefore, I try to work on a morning, longhand, in notebooks. I don’t plan anything outside of a general outline for fiction. The poems come when they come. I edit them a few dozen times on the PC when I type them up and send them out when I think they’re ready. I have Poems I’ve been working on for a decade, I have some that seem to be born ready for the fight. Whatever you think and feel and believe will find its true form in the end. You just have to be brave enough to throw the words down in the first place.

Gareth Spark

Gareth Spark is from Whitby, Yorkshire. His short fiction and poetry has appeared in Shotgun Honey, Line Zero, Out of the Gutter, NAP, Poetry Bus and Deepwater Literary Review, among others. He reviews poetry online for Fjords Review, among others.

I Have Met The Serpent by Stephen Jarrell Williams

I have met the serpent in the darkness many times
We have our little chat and a couple of laughs
Before I step on him
Mashing his head with my heavy heel
As he whips his long tail around
His little stinger at the end
Jabbing me a good sting
Sending me back the way I came
Running through a garden with a beautiful woman
Thunder overhead
Wishing the giant drops of tears were only rain.

Stephen Jarrell Williams 2

Not so long ago, Stephen Jarrell Williams was called by some, the Great Poet of Doom… Now, he writes at night, enthused, and waiting for the Coming Good Dawn.

Ble Mae Cwtch (Aww, She’s Just Lonely, Mun!) by Paul Tristram

She’s a bit better
now that they’ve banned her
from buying alcohol
in the Town Centre.
Has to walk to the next village
five mile away
and tends to stop for the night
in an old horsebox
halfway back.
Aye, she still sleeps in the old cemetery,
no, the baby’s not there,
they don’t bury people there anymore,
it’s down the Crematorium Field in Margam.
My heart goes out to her, mun,
it really does.
I try and leave her pasties
when I can, you know,
but we’re all skint these days, innit.
It’s when she comes out with that
‘Ble Mae Cwtch’ nonsense,
it does me in.
It’s not the smell,
I can put up with that.
It’s the shuddering sobbing
in your arms,
I swear to God the heartache
passes straight from her into you.

paul smoking - Copy

Paul Tristram is a Welsh writer who has poems, short stories, sketches and photography published in many publications around the world, he yearns to tattoo porcelain bridesmaids instead of digging empty graves for innocence at midnight; this too may pass, yet. Buy his books ‘Scribblings Of A Madman’ (Lit Fest Press) http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1943170096 ‘Poetry From The Nearest Barstool’ at http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1326241036 And a split poetry book ‘The Raven And The Vagabond Heart’ with Bethany W Pope at http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1326415204 You can also read his poems and stories here! http://paultristram.blogspot.co.uk/

Under the Drunkard’s Foggy Watch by Grant Tarbard

In the cupboard under the stairs I view
idle houses drawn with a shaking hand.
All the town is here under the sun on
a daffodil’s stalk. At the sun’s heart is
a seed head that blackens all the children’s
faces with shadow. My eyes shine with a
embrace of pebbles lifting the timbers
of these slow houses, these drooping houses
dripping with loose particles of sorrow
that flavour the oceans with aftershave,
that spill ink on your helter skelter sheets,
that create the canopy of dancing
swans projected onto heavens eyelid.
All’s well under the drunkard’s foggy watch.

Loneliness is the Machine that Drives the World

Grant Tarbard is internationally published. His collection As I Was Pulled Under the Earth, published by Lapwing Publications, is available now.

Blossoms by Jane Frank

It’s spring in New Farm Park
and I’m invisible
under the jacarandas
in my mauve shirt,
my heartbeat muffled
by the chug of ferry engines,
my ring the colour
of grass when the sun goes.
The clouds are weighted with shadows.
Over there is the bench
where I ate sandwiches
with a man who had
such an easy smile,
where I was lulled into thinking
the blossoms would hold.

Jane Frank

Jane Frank is a poet and academic based in Brisbane, Australia. She is the author of Milky Way of Words, published by Ginninderra Press, 2016. Her poems have appeared in Australian Poetry Journal, Westerly, Writ, London Grip, The Frogmore Papers, Nutshells and Nuggets, Northwords Now, Poets Republic, Eunoia Review and Yellow Chair Review, as well as forthcoming in Antipodes, Cordite Review and takehē.

One Of A Kind by Vivian Belford

Once at the green turtle
I met a hunk with a bulge
It made my tender flesh
Ache with untold wants
Buried in mills and boom
It was not a cock and bull
He kissed my lips to pink
And left my titties red
Two hungry wolves aroused
At the sight of a full blue moon
I took it on all fours just like
A green turtle Pro
If we howled louder than we did
Our wolves would have quaked
Under our mooning frames
Months later,
All that soul and funk quickened
Something inside of me
Beating so strong to a rhythm
Echoing howls of that night
When we danced naked
Without an iota of shame.
I never asked for a parting gift
How very kind of you
I’m awed to know that soon
That face of yours will surface
Again In a little him or her
Making that brazen night
One of a kind

Vivian Belford

Vivian Belford is a freelance writer by day and an aspiring actor by night, she started writing professionally in 2013 some of her work has been featured in Indian periodicals, Tuck magazine Creativity webzine. She is currently staring in her own movie “living and dying with a smile” she writes from Abuja Nigeria.


Chicken Express by Thom Young

I blew her brains out
on a Sunday morning
she was reading People magazine
an article on the Bachelor
or maybe it was the Bachelorette?
I don’t remember.
sad gray blood on those plastic
I drove to Chicken Express
and got a four piece combo with okra,
roll, and gravy.
everything was cold
by the time I got home.

thom young

Thom Young is a writer from Texas. His work has been in 3am magazine, Horror, Sleaze, and Trash, Word Riot, The Legendary, and many other places. A 2008 Million Writers Award nominee for his story Perico. His books have hit #1 in Kindle Free in Mens Adventure, Action Adventure, Western, Police Procedural, Poetry Anthologies, and Comedy. @thomyoung Instagram

Self Release by Noel Negele

Friday reaches for Saturday
like a hand around a throat
while we drink together
inside one darkness or another
lying on bed, bottle between us
like a buoy in the gloom,
boredom gradually taking over
the left side of my brain,
bad memories start to swell up
like a tumor
when she gets up suddenly
switches the light on
and tap dances like a lovable moron,
her breasts going up and down,
such a sight to see, I tell you–
Imagine me in a red dress, she says
red lipstick and expensive earrings
and a diamond necklace that’s killed
more people that Christianity–
wouldn’t that be grand?

I remember how she cried
one night I blew through
both her windows with my fists,
how she chased me down the road
asking for forgiveness,
her bare feet on the asphalt
when I leaned against a car,
my hands dripping blood all over
my pants and shoes
and looked at her saddened face, all teary and panicked
and I realised there’s something wrong with me
always deciding against joy
always hurting souls that deserve better

That night I poured Jim Beam
on my wounds under her kind and caring eyes,
her trembling hand gripping the side of my shirt
and when I picked up the shards of glass from the floor
wearing nothing but shoes and a pierced underwear
she started laughing suddenly
and pointed at my crotch
and I looked down to see my balls
spilling through the hole.

So when she lies on the bed again,
after switching the light off
I tell her that expensive things
on such an authentic soul
can only darken the glow
in this terrible life where we have to do
indecent things to live decently
and in this darkness, in this black room
something in me stirs, something good
that laughs and cares
as her cold feet rub against mine
underneath the covers
I am almost completely certain
I’m happy.

I can feel you smiling in the dark, she says–
I can feel you staring.

Noel Negele

Noel Negele was born and raised in Albania but currently resides in Greece. Some of his scribblings are alive on Dead Snakes and Horror Sleaze Trash, and a couple are featured in Midnight Lane Boutique. Not much else to say.


Mr. Nobody by Stephen Jarrell Williams

I’m one of millions


Finally grinding my teeth to a halt
Stepping to the foreground
Facing them that feed on us

Hoping others will join
All the nobodies
Becoming one immense Somebody

Changing the way this world is run.

Stephen Jarrell Williams 2

Not so long ago, Stephen Jarrell Williams was called by some, the Great Poet of Doom… Now, he writes at night, enthused, and waiting for the Coming Good Dawn.