We offer our first and exclusive Q&A Interview with Robin McNamara, a writer whose literary works have been featured on our Spillwords pages as well as being Author of the Month of April 2021.
What does it mean to be selected as Author of The Month?
Mind boggling I’ve been nominated before so I wasn’t expecting anything to come of it. I was just happy to have been nominated for both Author and Publication of the Month. It’s a great honour to be held in high esteem within the writing community of Spillwords, where there are so many talented people. It came at the same time as the publication of my new chapbook, Under A Mind’s Staircase. Perfect timing!
How have your friends and/or family influenced your writing?
I wouldn’t say they’ve influenced my writing but rather supported my writing. Although some of my poetry has been influenced by fellow writers, artists and musicians. We all support and influence each other in various ways. I’ve been influenced by the music of an Australian singer, Wanita, a talented individual who’s inspired a few poems.
What inspires you to write?
Life and the origins of happiness, misery, hope, despair, death, religion etc. you get the guise, absolutely everything that’s surrounding me inspires me to write. It’s never been just one or two things. The sense of underlying madness that exists within us all and how we stop it from consuming us also inspires me to write.
What was your writing catalyst?
My writing has stopped and started at various stages over the last 25 years but the catalyst to becoming more serious about my craft began during the lockdown on March 12th in Ireland last year. That was the definitive moment that took me from being a casual poet to becoming 100% committed to honing my writing craft and reinforcing a discipline to write everyday. It started with writing a poem everyday for various poetry prompts that emerged in Ireland and in Wales with Cobh Writers Group, Catherine Ann Cullen for Poetry Ireland and Black Bough’s #TopTweetTuesday. This gave me a new found strength and community of support for my poetry.
Tell us a little bit about your writing process?
I sometimes find a word and research its origins or I learn a new word and try to incorporate it into a poem. Research is essential to me for understanding historical references or mythological language that I might use within a poem. I mess around with style and technique as I’m still an apprentice and I look at what’s working for other poets currently out there. Several poems I let simmer for a few weeks then I edit, cut lines out or change the title. It’s simple really, it’s just about going with my gut feelings and intuition that the poem has strength to be a finished piece and stands on its own two feet.
What would you say is most fulfilling about writing?
How well paid we poets are! Nah I think the satisfaction of finishing a poem and knowing it’s complete is the biggest personal reward you can give yourself. Anything else like being published is a bonus. We’re not in it for fame and fortune, we’re poets because it’s a calling.
Does the addition of imagery help to tell your story?
The addition of imagery births my poems. Not having imagery in my poems is like the human body without a soul. It would not exist. Imagery is the lifeblood of a poem, its soul, it’s what brings it to life.
What is your favorite reading genre?
When I was a child comics helped form my imagination, which led to reading encyclopedias and history books and then I progressed to horror novels by authors like Stephen King and James Herbert. Here I learned how imagination and storytelling are an essential part of drawing in a reader. So today my poems are full of historical and sociological references. I’m constantly reading other poets’ books as well.
What human being has inspired you the most?
Any individual that has made a difference for the betterment of mankind has inspired me the most. The underdog in life that overcomes insurmountable odds.
What message would you have for the Spillwords Press community that voted for you?
Thank you for all your support and it’s greatly appreciated and it’s never taken for granted when I see the support and acknowledgment within the writing community. We all help one another.
What would you like your legacy as a writer to be?
That my poetry can inspire others to go and write and be published. If any poems of mine inspire another poet that would be a wonderful achievement.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
My chapbook, Under A Mind’s Staircase is just the beginning. I still have so much to learn and I’m learning new things everyday. As I work on my first full collection I’m still very much an apprentice in poetry and reading and discovering other poets’ great works is a wonderful thing. I think the pandemic has created a growing awareness of the importance of poetry in the world of literature. It has given comfort and solace to people in uncertain times. There’s a new generation of poets born from the pandemic era that we will be reading in years to come.
Robin McNamara is an Irish poet with over 90 poems published worldwide. A regular contributor to Poetry Ireland poetry prompts. UCD Library have a selection of his pandemic poems in their archives as a record of poems written during this period. Robin’s debut chapbook is to be published with Hedgehog Poetry Press in early 2021.