Friday, July 12, 2019

Interview _ Trefor Stockwell

Trefor Stockwell studied English at Bangor University, and has recently completed his PhD in Creative Writing. He now lives on the Isle of Anglesey where he concentrates on writing and performing poetry. Currently he is working on a novel.

In this interview, Trefor talks about his writing:

When did you start writing?

I have always written but have taken it much more seriously since University.

My writing efforts are of an eclectic nature: poetry, prose and the occasional article. My audience is anyone who finds my work interesting. Primarily though I write for myself, and if others then enjoy it that’s a bonus.

I have never really wanted to be published for the sake of it, but it became an expectation when I started to do post-graduate work on creative writing.

Which writers influenced you most?

The writers who have influenced me most are: Angela Carter and Salman Rushdie both of whom were cited in my PhD thesis on creative writing.

I not only enjoyed their work for its unique, and sometimes quirky, approach to subject matter, but also it inspired my own approach to the situation I found myself in: at the time I was living in a small Bulgarian village, and was at the time the only Westerner in the valley. Although I was made welcome, I still sensed a feeling of isolation. I was also struggling to come to terms with the changes to the country - this was in the early days of transition to the EU and a change from a centuries old agrarian to a more capitalist society. My writing needed to reflect this change, and the fact that my presence - no matter how sympathetic I was to the culture - was leaving a cultural footprint: the villager were researching me just as much as I was them. My work, therefore, grew increasingly more Magical Realist in nature.

How else have your personal experiences influenced your writing?

I think all writers are influenced by events in their own lives. In my own case I have always tried to convey a left wing political message in my work. I also find that the loss of a loved one in a tragic accident led to some rather dark and cathartic poetry. Both of these elements are to be seen in my poetry collection, Life, Love, Politics and Other Silliness.

What are your main concerns as a writer?

My writing is becoming increasingly more political, this is especially so in my poetic efforts. This has become more so since the advent of the Brexit debate and the increasing drift toward extreme idealistic national politics. I have become alarmed with the similarities to the situation in 1930s Germany. Poetry is my way of expressing those fears.

Do you write every day?

I write on most days but do allow myself time away from the keyboard. My biggest challenge is self-discipline; I try to allocate myself a certain amount of time each day and treat it like a job.

I find I must force myself to start, but then find that once I do it’s even more of an effort to stop.

I have published four works: A novel: Clerical Errors, Secular Lies; two short story collections: Bread and Wine and The Tales of Ivan Levsky; one poetry collection: Life, Love, Politics and Other Silliness.

What is Life, Love, Politics and Other Silliness?

It is a poetry collection.

It was written over a number of years. The more personal aspects of the collection were the most difficult to write, but also the most rewarding and cathartic. The collection was published by Dorogoy Press/LuLu in 2018. I completed all the layout work myself.

The main advantage of this, is that I can order as and when required and also sell through Amazon.

One of your poems, ‘When We Weren’t Looking’, is featured in Bollocks to Brexit: an Anthology of Poems and Short Fiction. What would you say the poems are about?

‘When We Weren’t Looking’ was written in response to my growing concerns about where our country is heading since the referendum. It was written very recently, and reflects on the fact that our own apathy appears to be allowing the unspeakable to come about by stealth. It is also about my own fear that the referendum has been the touchstone to a release of national xenophobia and a right wing agenda that harks back to a golden age which in truth never really existed. In my opinion the only way for us as a nation to reunite is take the whole thing back to the people - either as a people's vote, or through a people's assembly.

How has the poem been received?

Difficult to say, but it appears to have found favour with audiences. Why this is, is again, difficult to say, but either they approve, or are very kind – probably a mixture of both.

Why is it important for poets to speak up on social, political and related matters?

It has always been important for people in the arts to speak out. Quite often artists, writers, musicians and the like are the first to notice the defects in society, and are possibly more trusted by that society than the political leaders,

In your view, what do anthologies like Bollocks to Brexit add to poetry and public discourse?

Anthologies such as Bollocks to Brexit allow disparate views to be broadcast more widely rather than relying on the mainly biased opinion of the media, or the meaningless sound bytes of the political class: 'strong and stable' and 'Brexit means Brexit' are two examples of slogans that are completely without meaning, yet are repeated over and over again, until they become perceived as absolute truisms, this is aided by a media that is in the main controlled by the very rich, and entirely influenced by the need for profit.

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