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 a smashing chap from our Group. His name is Gav. Gav the Poet.
Relax with a chip butty and a glass of wine as you read this week’s writer profile.
Who are you and what do you do?
Hi, I’m Gav. I teach full time (English, of course), so don’t write as much as I’d like to.
How would you label your writing and/or poetry if forced to label it?
I honestly don’t know. I started posting some pieces on Facebook, always announcing them with “I wrote a thing. Here it is.” I wasn’t even convinced it was poetry. I started out writing songs and lyrics, so I guess you can call me a lyricist. I’d be happy with that. But, really, I’m just exploring, experimenting – trying to escape the clutches of the safe and the familiar, and usually sticking with them anyway.
What is your relationship with words and how has that evolved over time?
My Mum used to boast, like proud parents do, that I was reading before I walked. I can’t verify her claim – memories from back then are a little hazy for some reason. But I don’t recall a time when language wasn’t central, in some way. Apart from The Beano, Asterix and Tin-Tin, all of which I devoured as a kid, my first love was Terry Pratchett. Then, at about the perfect time, I borrowed a copy of Catcher in the Rye, and haven’t really looked back since. As a writer, I started properly writing song lyrics. More recently, I have dropped the guitar and am focussing on just the written (and very, very occasionally, spoken) word.
How long have you been writing/performing?
Since I was very young. A bit of acting other people’s words, then a lot of singing my own. Now, I scribble things down and am enjoying that at the moment.
Is mental health something you feel strongly about?
Indeed. I have several different stories to share, both of my own experience with a breakdown or two, of depression… but have also seen how it affects people close to me from the other side. I don’t have any answers or remedies: everyone is different, their needs too varied to give a cure-all.
But, what I love most about PIN, is the openness, the sharing. There are times I’ve had support and, I hope, times I’ve been there for others. We write stuff; we connect; we are there. It’s a wonderful space, one I’m very glad I found.
Please describe your writing process.
Splurge. I get a kernel of an idea and, if I’m quick enough, I try to get it all out there and then. Then I’ll walk away, sometimes for only a few hours, sometimes for months, and return, slightly more objectively, to put a bit of thought and craft into what’s there. I wish I was disciplined enough to have set times to write, commit to it a bit more. But if it’s there, it’s there. I miss it when it’s gone (I’ve just come out of quite a rich vein of form, and it’s a notable absence now it’s gone again), but am too erratic to be more structured. I have a child to care for. And wine to drink…
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?
Oh, I vent so much I’m surprised Carol Ann Duffy hasn’t banned me from writing yet. I went through a really, really tough spell a couple of years ago, and I hadn’t been writing much before it, but it really got me through at times. I found myself writing – totally unplanned, as a way of understanding, or trying to understand, what was happening, as no one else could help in that way back then. It gave me clarity, catharsis and some much needed moments of relief. I highly recommend it as a therapy.
If you had the chance to perform one poem or read one excerpt to someone that sums you up, which is it (link?)
I can’t tell you in one answer. I write political stuff, that’s very different from my word play stuff, that’s very different from my personal, venty stuff. I loved it when Frank Tipa Jr ready (brilliantly) a tongue twister I wrote. But that’s a one off. It’s too early to say. Soz!
If you could collaborate with anyone out there (alive or dead), who would it be and why?
I’d never collaborate with him, as he’s too damn good on his own and I’d only dilute his genius, but I adore Dr John Cooper Clarke.
Who are your writing influences, heroes and villains poetically, musically and/or lyrically?
All my early influences were song lyricists. Too many to list, but Cobain, Malkmus and Lennon probably top it off. I think Guy Garvey’s lyrics are pure poetry, and can’t remember a more deserving recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature than Bob Dylan. As a Yorkshireman, I love Simon Armitage and Ted Hughes; I can become obsessed with Charles Dickens, Margaret Atwood, Don DeLillo, Blake, Browning, Duffy… loads. I love seeing those great, spellbinding MCs freestyling and wish I had half of their youth, and as much of their talent.
What quote/song/poem inspires you the most and why?
I can’t give you one answer to that. Not for all time! At the moment, I’m loving the lyrics and energy of Idles Danny Nadelko, and I’m loving reading Stop the Stigma, the PIN anthology.
Writer’s block, is it real or a myth?
You’d have to ask a proper writer;)
Finish this sentence… Words and music are the epitomes of…
Life. In art, chiefly in literature and music, you find your pulse. Or at least I do.
What’s next for you?
Another glass of wine, I think!
Honestly, just starting out. Haven’t got much to share. Feel free to use my profile pics or anything on there if you want to 🙂
Thanks to Gave the Poet for this. You can find him and a thousand like-minded souls in our wonderfully warm and troll-free Facebook group – just search PoetsIN.
If you would like to feature in a Writer profile or submit your own blog piece on writing, mental health, wellbeing or anything relevant then get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org