Monday, July 6, 2009

Featured Poet #3

Seven Poems From Richard Wink

The Retired Lifeboat

The retired lifeboat



overturned like an empty crab shell

surrounded by the chalk

and harsh flint.

Weather beaten the boat’s name

had been reduced to a solitary ‘h’

in lower-case,

the shade of navy blue had faded

to a sheepish turquoise.

The sea touched the lifeboat

permissively surrounding it


In the crude sun

the tide departed without

taking anything


The Piranha could not swim

so he was fitted with wheels,

he spun around the shelf

just above the glass tank that contained

his brother and sisters.

Fresh air did the Piranha good

sure he was a fish out of water

plenty of people pointed that out

before chuckling righteously to themselves

but the Piranha paid no attention to unpleasant jibes,

though he did wonder how he was able to breathe.

His gills contracted and bristled

when irritated by the lazy drift of smoke

that billowed from his keeper’s cigarette

Burlesque Memories

The talent was fresh, simmering in a sterling rimmed champagne glass

I wasn’t sure what we were observing

but when the performance ended

we stood and applauded.

Her model was of immaculate design,

not garish like Van Gogh’s prostitute muse

with downcast sagging droops.

No, this vision was crafted

around the finest bone

I missed the last train

and sat in an all night café

sipping dirt brown coffee.

Why was I involved with the arts?

The Thames,

a river of grey romance

I could not smell.

The Page Turner

When the skin cracked

fingertips became tender

each page turned

causing a flinch

eyes wandered

tears rolled

as the final word

was read


Circumstances swam away as swans,

cowardly legs frantically paddling under water

Tides tickled the South East Coast

causing the North to sneeze

Trinkets sugar coated

diabetic deliberate

brandy flavoured blokes lick

the lollipop hat stand

fields dream beneath metallic covers

magnets spin

a clown’s bow tie

tickling barley humour

The Fox in the Furnace

The Fox in the Furnace

a temper of orange

warming the room

causing feet to surrender snug slippers

The Fox in the Furnace

crackles and sparks

a firefly ember glides over shoulder

catching us by surprise


Tremors shuttle

green blurs in awkward motion

rattling rails

bypassing through mustard fields,

specs of rain

streak windows


Daffodils suffer cramp

their stalks kicked,

crushed, then trampled

by the busy men

They shuffle into the burdened carriages

removing and rolling their coats

stacking coral briefcases into overhead compartments

polite theatrics

the newspapers spread open

like maps of the world

Q@A with Richard Wink

CH: How long have you been writing and why did you start in the first place?

RW: I started writing for kicks when I was sixteen. I discovered a knack for poetry one afternoon; I think it was during some little creative writing exercise that I really gravitated towards the art. No longer was I bored by Charles Dickens or trying to figure out what the heck Onomatopoeia meant. At last something in literature was speaking to me, throwing down a gauntlet.

I consider sixteen to be the age when my life went wrong, and since that point for nearly a decade, through ten years of mistakes and misadventure poetry has been the one constant. Of course it has been glorious attempting to play the ‘tortured’ Rimbaud role, but eventually you sit bolt up, waking up at four in the morning in cold sweats and realize that this is something you have to do for the rest of your life. That I guess is when the bug has bitten you.

For about two years I was writing in secret, which is to say at the time I was ashamed. Poetry was seen as pretentious and without wishing to sound homophobic it was considered to be “poncey”. Growing up with laddish mates who had no real love for the arts, and perhaps their cultural outlook stretched just about to drunken sing-along’s to ‘Wonderwall’ on a Friday night. I guess I was afraid to reveal myself as a poet.

By the time I was eighteen I began to send out submissions and got a couple of poems featured in Print Anthologies. My first published poem was titled ‘Driving Miss Daisy’ and was simply about learning to drive. That experience was quite eventful, it took me three attempts to pass the test, and I even failed the theory test once because I came into the testing centre feeling hungover. I recall one lesson occurred on 9/11, the instructor didn’t believe me when I told him about two planes hitting the twin towers. But yeah, I digress. I’m a terrible driver.

Then after getting the taste after those publications I took advantage of the internet, and put together my first chapbook with a publisher in Chicago. The Beehives though not a critical or commercial success got my foot in the door and gave me a bit of confidence. Since then I have managed to produce five more chapbooks, and hopefully later this year, or early next, my first full length collection.

CH: Who or what were your inspirations?

RW: Early on I was heavily influenced by the current poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, her poems about everyday subject matter spoke to me and made me realize that to write poetry you didn’t have to hole yourself away in opium dens. This was a good two or three years before I discovered Bukowski and the Beats, who truly flipped my lid. I’m still only getting started on people like Corso and Snyder, so there is plenty left to discover. I genuinely prefer writers from the States. Anne Sexton and Wallace Stevens are big influences.

A lot of songwriters have influenced me. I especially dig the throwaway nonsense of Stephen Malkmus, the morose heartbreak of Elliott Smith and the genius of Ray Davies. Music is a big deal to me, without it I don’t really think life would be worth living.

CH: What would you say is the hardest thing about writing?

RW: Each and every writer is gripped by the struggle between their ego and their own delusions. Obviously the internal duel is in direct conflict with those who read your writing, so whilst at the peak of your powers you are thinking you are the shit, when in fact you could actually be churning out….. shit poetry.

I mentioned utilizing the internet earlier, and this is going to sound rather hypocritical, considering without the internet (a) I wouldn’t be talking to you now and (b) I wouldn’t have networked enough to get publishers from Liverpool to Los Angeles to put out my words.

But I am concerned that a lot of writing gets lost in the void of the World Wide Web. I still think we are in the early stages of online publishing, if indeed you can call it publishing. We need to build up writers, something like this is good, it acts as a showcase, but as an editor of an online zine myself (Gloom Cupboard) I’ve realized that you have a responsibility to make sure the aces don’t get lost in the pack.

Feature writers, try to put them in Print Editions and work with them. Support your local scenes, encourage your contemporaries. Literary movements only happen when people get together and collaborate.

Perhaps the hardest thing about writing is that it can be easy to plough the lone furrow. The role of the outsider is an overstated one. Get out and about, mingle.

CH: What advice would you give to a new writer who is struggling to find his or her identity?

RW: I’m a great believer in writing about what you know. For instance there is no good attempting to write from the perspective of a heroin addict if you fainted after getting a flu vaccination. Stick with what you know, write about what you experience and I don’t think you can go far wrong.

Of course another perspective is that originality is overrated, throughout history artists have ripped liberally from other artists. T.S Elliot plundered from Shakespeare and the
Bible and it didn’t do him much harm. But I guess if you are going to steal, then you better be able to dress it up, if you merely cut and paste then you’ll probably get caught out. Jesus, I guess this is a sign of cultural decline. Advocating plagiarism!

End of Interview


'Apple Road' is available to order from Trainwreck Press

'Delirium is a Disease of the Night' is available to order from Shadow Archer Press

'The Magnificent Guffaw' is available to order from Erbacce Press

You can follow Richard on twitter

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