- How does being from Wales affect/inform your work?
Being Welsh affects me completely, in every area of my life. I could go on about ‘The Mountains & Waterfalls’ and how musical the accents and language are, which is all true… but it’s much deeper than just that postcard stuff. It’s of my blood, no other place ‘Moves Me’ so. I don’t get to spend as much time there as I would like to. I’m a Welsh Pikey, so I’m travelling constantly. But, Neath and the South Cities are definitely where I feel more Me. I think, that when you are away from somewhere or something, for long periods of time, you get to feel your love for it. Surely, that can’t help but come through in your work, conversation or anything else that you do.
- Which poem(s) of your own do you have the most affinity with?
Maybe my early ones because it’s where it all began… but, that’s probably nostalgia. I use a lot of ‘Clairvoyancy’ and ‘Ventriloquy’. I seldom write about the ‘Now’, most personal poems are about events that happened years ago. I tend to store that shit for later… so, when it actually comes time to scribble it down, the people and places are no longer of significance anyway. It’s merely a recording and documentation of experience. I’ve just taken a few months off social media and written my second novel, which I am extremely excited about. I’ve poured my soul into this book and it is without a doubt my most personal (emotionally and psychologically), it’s the best thing I’ve ever crafted. I’ve outdone myself this time. There’ll be some sections appearing up at ‘Your One Phone Call’ soon.
- Which poem(s) of another poet do you have the most affinity with?
There are many. I have a deep love of music, so I connect with a lot of lyricists too.
But, if I had to pick a few poems I would have to say ‘Mirror’ by Sylvia Plath.
I walked into a bookshop in either Cheltenham or Dundee years ago and picked up her Selected Poems. I had never read any before. I opened the book randomly and that poem was before me. Fucking fireworks went off inside my head. ‘My God, That is Craftsmanship’ I remember thinking. I put the book back upon the shelf and walked away without reading a single other poem. That poem stayed with me and haunted me, I kept walking into bookshops all over Britain to read just that poem for years. I only actually bought her stuff and devoured it a couple of birthdays ago.
Then ‘The Genius Of The Crowd’ by Charles Bukowski. (That one and ‘Old Man, Dead In A Room’ are my favourite ones by him) because people are cunts and he nails it.
Also, ‘In My Craft Or Sullen Art’ and ‘Fern Hill’ by Dylan Thomas. Simply for the beautiful brilliance of his literary ways and expertise with imagery.
Lastly ‘The Severed Garden’ by Jim Morrison. Just because…
- Do you think that writing poetry is a Craft with a capital ‘C’?
Yes, completely! I’ve never understood that ‘Writer’s Workshop’ thingy? You’ve either got that ‘Block Of Wood or Marble’ inside you ready to sculpt with or you haven’t. You can’t just decide to be a writer, it’s in you or it’s not. And when you discover it in yourself, you then have to find your own voice and develop and strengthen it. You can only do this by insane amounts of studying and practicing. Fucking decades of it, before you are anywhere near any good. Listening to other people’s direction or advice is just going to take away and dull your own ‘Instinct’ and pollute your individual ‘Accent’, which should, be growing along hand in hand with your talent and craft. Keep that shit pure, or lose all uniqueness. Don’t fuck with magic.
- Is revision a big part of your process?
No! I handwrite poetry in a notebook, then type it up on the computer, that’s where it gets any changes made if there’s going to be any. Don’t polish too much… you’ll take the sheen and edge off! Dilute the passion. Fuck that, trust yourself! Prose, I type, smash my head through a couple of walls and then type it out again. Then read through it just enough times to be happy with it.
- Do you dream about your past?
I don’t remember a lot of my dreams. When I do, they’re either bizarre and trippy, like I’ve swallowed a couple of hundred magic mushrooms with my last drink before bed… you know, I’m walking down a corridor in my old school and I turn the corner and I’m in a funfair, shit like that. Or, I get a lot of Succubi, whether I like it or not.
- What haunts you the most from your life?
Nothing haunts me. I did all that therapy shit in my late twenties. I close doors and move on. It sounds simple because it is simple. People or situations from your past belong in your past, leave them fucking there. I rarely even talk to the nice people again never mind the arseholes.
What exactly does “he yearns to tattoo porcelain bridesmaids instead of digging empty graves for innocence at midnight; this too may pass, yet.” mean? I must know.
I came out with it drunk one night and someone scribbled it down. It simply means ‘to reach and keep reaching’. The soul evolves on many different levels at exactly the same time, there’s a constant flux occurring… if you are perceptive enough to sense the alignments… you can strike Magic!
- Are the wild characters that show up in your writing more real or imagined?
Well, that depends. I write a lot of poetry about lost old people I bump into wandering around the city centre. Lonely, grieving widows and tramps. Some of them I converse with… sometimes it’s pure empathy. I also write about bygone times, and when I do that, I completely invent each character. My short story ‘Headache & Hangover Cures’ springs to mind, the two men in that story are not based on actual people whom I have met, they just sprang to life as I started writing the story. I also surround myself with hard-core lunatics, and when they appear in my writing, I have to ‘Dumb Them Down’ or it would just be too much, the truth would seem unbelievable.
- Who is your favorite woman writer/poet?
I like a lot of women writers. But, at a push, I would have to say Sylvia Plath. Her poetry is fantastic. She had fire and magic flying out of her fingertips. Reading some of her work is like scaling mountains with a bomb strapped to your heart. Someone called her my ‘Literary Girlfriend’ once, my reply was ‘I’d have finished her off quicker than that other guy’.
I’m one of those annoying people who need perfect quiet to read. So, I have a large collection of audio books (The Classics!) to listen to when travelling. I do enjoy most of the women writers, especially George Eliot, when I’m in the mood.
- Are people surprised when you tell them that you write?
I have never experienced surprise before… but then I don’t introduce myself as a ‘writer’.
- What sort of little child were you?
Pretty much the same as I am now, maybe not quite as cute. I was very quiet and thoughtful, when alone, and off in a little world of my own. ‘Away With The Fairies’ adults used to say. I did a lot of drawing and sketching, a teacher told me Mam “Don’t ever let him be without a pencil in reach”, saved my life on a few occasions, I shanked a bully in the mouth with a nice Staedtler Noris HB 2 one day walking home from school, my father bought me my first pocket knife out of pride when he heard. But, as soon as I’d had enough of that, I’d be off hunting for adventure and looking for trouble. I always had a large gang of other kids around me, and it was always me which would come up with things for us to do. I grew up right at the base of Drummau Mountain in Skewen. Surrounded by woods, countryside, caves and canals. I’d be like “Let’s go over there!” and when we finally got there “Ok, now let’s go to the opposite mountain” I was a little ‘Waster’ and the police were always around. I’d get everyone to roll tractor tyres down steep hillsides, almost taking out the backs of houses. Stealing ‘Detonators’ off train tracks and putting them under the wheels of police cars. We planned our first ‘Armed Robbery’ aged eight, it’s nice to have ambition and vision. ‘Lovable Rogue’ the Old Man called me. How we all didn’t die is a miracle. Then at age ten, we moved down into Gangland in Neath and things changed dramatically. The kids there were at war with Skewen boys. So straight off the bat (Pun intended!), me and my brother had to fight to survive every time we left the house. By the age of fifteen, we were running the place.
I’ve always been a bit schizophrenic, there are two vastly different worlds constantly orbiting my brain. Flipping from one side of the coin to the other, rapidly.
- What is the soundtrack of your life and does music affect your writing greatly?
I have a wide-ranging taste in music. The genre I listen to the most is punk rock, the energy, anger, and when I was an adolescent the lyrics meant so much. It’s hard going through the change but when you are listen to and reading lyrics of other people feeling the same struggles as you it’s fantastic. I adore the cello, especially when played by a woman, it stirs something deep within my soul, strips something away and makes me ache, throb and tingle (Not my body but my spirit, I’m not speaking on a sexual level!). I also love John Martyn, his acoustic stuff in particular. A bit of a ‘Hella ‘of a man by all accounts but when he sat down upon a stool with an acoustic guitar and opened his mouth… fucking hell, a wounded angel slipped out.
As for effecting my writing? Lyrics certainly did. I was one of those people who was fucking angry when I bought an album and there were no printed lyrics inside. I never read a single book of poetry until I was in my twenties, it was all lyrics before that. Which is why my base-level poetry was all rhyming, second tier also.
- Does your reputation, whatever it was, whatever it is, precede you?
- What is the most romantic poem you have written and who was it for?
I write quite a lot of romantic poetry. Both the dark side and the light, because I’m cute like that. The heart and its many beautiful/murderous ways has limitless subject matter for a writer, always has and always will. The one that springs to mind is ‘She Dances Like A Daydream’, it was the first poem I ever got published back in 1996 on the arts page of The Cornish Guardian newspaper. It’s a soppy old rhyming thing, I must have written it back when I was 19 or 20 years old. It’s not about anyone directly, its more about the idea of ‘Being In Love’. My mates call it ‘The Panties Down Poem’ and reckon that it should have a WARNING attached to it.
- What makes you want to promote the work of others so selflessly?
I have never understood nor experienced ‘Envy’ or ‘Jealousy’ in any aspect of my life, to be honest, it quite baffles me? It just seems like a ‘Poison’, why would you ingest that crap? The simple truth is that no one is going to stop you from being successful except yourself. It doesn’t matter how many people are ‘Shining’ like motherfuckers… as long as you are shining yourself. As far as I’m concerned, the more people involved in poetry and writing in general… the better. The healthier the ‘Small Press World’ is, with hardworking talented artists the more chance everyone has of being seen and being heard. When I see or read someone’s work and feel any kind of impact from it, I immediately think ‘Good, thank fuck for that!’. Surround yourself with positivity, have thick skin, let negativity slide off you like water from a duck’s back. Believe in yourself and give your absolute all, and I, for one, will applaud you, completely!