Everyone has a story to tell; each one of us a writer of poetry – some, without even realising. That stream of consciousness that runs in our veins? It’s poetry waiting to be written. We believe in the power of words, and that power is what urged us set up PoetsIN.
It’s because of those inner streams, that we bring you this regular interview feature, Writer Profiles. An interview with a writer. Some you’ll know, some you won’t.
This week it’s someone fairly new to our Facebook Group. His name is Rich McFerran.
Relax with a burger and fries and read this week’s writer profile.
Who are you and what do you do?
I’m Rich! Or officially: R.A McFerran…
Part time poet, writer and one third of the DJ ensemble, The Winchester Collective.
Oh and I work in retail as well.
How would you label your writing and/or poetry if forced to label it?
Melancholic musings ….. or Lucid Dreamings…. Social Snapshots of a counter culture …. or something equally as pretentious! Haha!
What is your relationship with words and how has that evolved over time?
I always enjoyed reading when I was a boy, which in turn got me into creative writing I guess. I remember the first thing I wrote was a self-penned sequel to the Ted Hughes novel “The Iron Man” when I was about 10 years old. I remember really enjoying that book and thought it deserved a sequel! My English teacher, Mrs Merry, typed it up on an old type-writer for me – I still have that somewhere, I must dig it out.
I got really into the Fighting Fantasy game books as well when I was young, where you could choose what path you took through the book? Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone released a whole series of them and I got lost in those for a while.
Later on, once I picked up a guitar, I turned my attention to songwriting (in the loosest sense of the word!) but I soon realised 3 chords will only get you so far, so my half-finished “songs” evolved into poems I guess, and I decided to pursue that avenue creatively.
How long have you been writing/performing?
Hmmm, about 15 years or so I guess? (My childhood novels aside!)
I wrote my first song in 2003 I think and it kinda went from there. My first Spoken Word gig was about 3 years ago maybe – so that still feels kinda new to me.
Is mental health something you feel strongly about?
Absolutely. Its great to see the subject being so openly and widely addressed now – as it wasn’t like that just a few years ago. Even amongst friends, it seems some of the most amazing artists and creators I know, are also the ones that really struggle with mental health problems. I do feel the world we’ve created and the lifestyles we are seemingly forced to lead are not conducive to a healthy mind. Its something we have to work on – to take a step back, turn off and embrace the here and now. Everything seems to be running at 1000mph – it’s relentless. Its hard to find peace sometimes in that environment.
Please describe your writing process.
It varies a lot. Sometimes I start with an idea or even a phrase, the bare bones if you like, and just add to it over the coming days or weeks as words or lines present themselves… the pieces I’m working on always seem to be lurking in the forefront of my consciousness, as though my brain is on the look out for the next line …. I just grab hold of them as they come along.
I can sit on an idea for months, years even, and just keep building it up if and when inspiration hits me. You can take those pieces anywhere, and what you end up with may be completely different from what you actually set out to write. Buts that’s good as well.
Other times I can literally just hammer out a whole piece in one go – if it’s flowing and the lines keep coming, get it down whilst it’s hot … Its best not to revisit those ones, just get ’em out and move on.
Some of us write our best stuff when in a rage, heartbroken or fighting depression. Are you affected in similar ways and do you use writing as a venting mechanism?
For sure. Probably my strongest period creatively was on the back of a relationship breakdown and a subsequent depression – which inspired probably the most powerful pieces I’ve written. They seemed to write themselves at that point – it was definitely an outpouring as part of the healing process.
Its strange I still look back on that period with a rose-tint – despite it being a lengthy period of darkness that really affected me, I wouldn’t change it. It made me understand the power of words, and how they can heal.
If you had the chance to perform one poem or read one excerpt to someone that sums you up, which is it?
“Live Forever” by Oasis means a lot to me. It encapsulates a lot of what I think and feel.
If you could collaborate with anyone out there (alive or dead), who would it be and why?
Bob Dylan for me is the finest wordsmith I’ve encountered thus far, truly exceptional – almost “other-wordly”. His earlier stuff especially. Something like “Visions of Johanna” or “Its Alright Ma” are absolutely incredible. And his gift for story-telling, like “Tangled Up In Blue” “Hurricane” or “Isis” suck you headlong into that world he’s created. His songs still inspire me today.
Who are your writing influences, heroes and villains poetically, musically and/or lyrically?
Obviously Dylan again, for the above reasons. Bob aside, I’m a big fan of Charles Bukoswki. I love his disgruntled, tortured, burnt out view on the world that somehow manages to capture the real beauty of the human condition. I’ve also been into Nick Power recently, he’s the keyboard player from The Coral but also an amazing writer and poet. His recent tour-diary “Into The Void” is a gem. He captures the mundane and makes it magnificent.
Jim Morrison was the first artist that got me into poetry, and rock n roll. I was heavily into dance music for a number of years in my teens, and that was great fun, but when I got into The Doors, that set me on a whole new path of discovery, which I’m still on.
What quote/song/poem inspires you the most and why?
I take a lot of inspiration from songs, certainly. Probably one of the reasons I love music so much. To take you out of a place, changes your mood or outlook – escapism I guess.
One quote I really like is actually the inscription on Jim Morrison’s tombstone in Paris which reads as “ΚΑΤΑ ΤΟΝ ΔΑΙΜΟΝΑ ΕΑΥΤΟΥ” in Old Greek – which is interpreted as “True to his own spirit”. That for me truly epitomises our very reason for existence. Forget the big house and the fancy car, those things are worthless to me. Be true. I don’t see what else there is or can be beside that.
Writer’s block, is it real or a myth?
I’ve never tried to force any of my writing. I’ll only write when its ready to be written if that makes sense? But I agree that some periods are certainly more creative or productive that others, for whatever the reason. I’d usually blame it on the tides, or the stars. If Venus is not in its full ascendancy, you might as well sack it off any go for a pint. 🙂
Finish this sentence… Words and music are the epitomes of…
What’s next for you?
My first book is ready to be published in the New Year, I’m likely to be self-publishing this one- I’m just exploring all possible avenues at the moment. Its basically all the poems, rambles and songs I’ve come up with over the last 10 years or so that I feel should see the light of day. The working title is “Letters of Last Resort”. That’s my next creative goal if you will.
I’m looking at doing a few more Spoken Word gigs where I can, I’d like to try and do a few in London to maybe to coincide with the release of the book perhaps – so if anyone knows of any good Spoken Word nights in London, let me know – I’d be up for checking them out!
I’m due to perform at a Spoken Word night at the Hitchin Lavender Farm in Ickleford on Thursday 6th Dec (yesterday – sorry). Its the first one that Shout Or Whisper are hosting there so I’d like to show my support for them and hear some other local artists.
Writing aside, my intention is to get back to looking after my mind a lot more. Meditation has really helped me get back to a more consistent equilibrium, something that I’ve really struggled with, so I want to make that mindset a more permanent feature. There’s work to be done, but its all part of the journey, and I wouldn’t change any of it.
Huge thanks to Richard, who you’ll find in our Facebook Group if you’re a member. If not, search PoetsIN (all one word) and request to join. He’s also on Instagram here.
If you would like to feature in a Writer profile, or indeed if you would like to submit your own blog piece on writing, mental health, wellbeing or anything relevant then get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org