with Steve Wheeler:
Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?
Steve: I started writing poetry with a purpose the day after I walked into the literary section of my college and began reading the works of Dylan Thomas and other British poets. I quickly got into reading American poets like Charles Bukowski and e. e. cummings and this helped me to develop my freeform style of poetry.
Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?
Steve: I enjoy reading the work of modern British writers such as Simon Armitage and Carol Ann Duffy, and urban poets such as John Cooper Clarke and Benjamin Zephaniah, but I’m also in love with the work of Irish poets such as Seamus Heaney and W. B. Yeats.
Q3: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing? Have any travels away from home influence your work/describe?
Steve: I was a musician (guitar and later keyboards) from the age of about 14. Lyrics to songs came to me along with the melodies and I began writing music alongside the poetry. Later as I began to perform my songs in public, I also started performing my poetry. It was synergetic – they seemed to feed off each other.
I have travelled a lot during my academic career, speaking and teaching in over 40 countries across the globe. Wherever I am, I find inspiration, from the buildings, scenery, people, cultures, food, music, and especially from simply observing people and their behaviour.
Q4: What do you consider your most meaningful work you’ve done creatively so far?
Steve: My most recent collection ASCENT seems to capture most of my recent creative work and places it in the context of love and relationships. It’s a collection I’m quite proud of because the themes develop and come to a crescendo in the book.
Q5: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer/poet/artist?
Steve: There was no specific moment, but there have been critical moments that have spurred me on. I was once compering on the fringe stage at a very large arts festival in the UK, and reading my poetry in between the acts as they set up. My audience was probably between 500-1000 at any given time so even the fringe stage wasn’t small. Someone from the mainstage happened to be passing by, saw me performing and invited me up onto the mainstage. There I was, filling in before Earth Wind and Fire’s Phillip Bailey was about to come on, and the poets Stewart Henderson and Steve Turner were on the side of the stage watching. I performed some of my poetry in front of 24,000 people – probably my largest audience ever.
Q6: Favorite activities to relax?
Steve: I read, mainly fiction but also historical and science based books, and I watch films. Lots of films. I’m a fan of Science Fiction and also love comedy movies.
Q7: Any recent or forthcoming projects you’d like to promote?
Steve: Provide any photos, links. I’m editor-in-chief of a recent anthology published by the Facebook group Absolutely Poetry. Over 50 poets from five continents have written poems to raise money for the worldwide charity Save The Children. The book is doing well and the poetry it contains is from both established and emerging poets.
Q8: What is one of your favorite lines from a poem/song of yours or others?
Perhaps my favourite all-time poetry is actually a lyric from a hymn. The hymn is called ‘When I Survey’, and was written by Isaac Watts and Lowell Mason. It reflects my deepening faith and goes like this:
See from His head, His hands, His feet
Sorrow and love flow mingled down
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?
Steve: I have had many influences over the years, but my audience (especially those who read my blog wheelsong.blogspot.com and the poetry I share on social media in Facebook poetry groups. I welcome all sorts of feedback on my writing, as long as it’s not destructive.