Q1: When did you start writing and whom influenced you the most now and currently?
Stephen: I began writing at 19yrs old and indulged in several Carol Ann Duffy and Sophie Hannah books of poetry. Duffy, especially, greatly influenced me during my twenties and then when I began performing spoken word in my thirties, it was punk poets like John Cooper Clarke who inspired my style of delivery.
Q2: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?
Stephen: I was assaulted twice when I was 19yrs old, so poetry was used as a form of catharsis. It was greatly therapeutic. I learned around this time that my grandfather had written poetry in 1937 – when he was aged 19. It made sense to continue on this path.
Q3. Who has helped you most with writing and career?
Stephen: This is difficult to answer. Alan Carter is the editor of Quantum Leap poetry magazine who I subscribed to for the first ten years of my writing career. Robin Cairns was the host of my first spoken word event, and remains a great supporter. However, the support (and attention) given by the Scottish writing community is second to none, and has been an enormous source of encouragement over the past decade or so.
Q4. Where did you grow up and how did that influence you? Have any travels influenced your work?
Stephen: I grew up in Dumbarton and naturally it has inspired and influenced the subject matters I choose to write about. There are many social issues in the poems I write, but I always find travelling is a wonderful catalyst for inspiration and I have never failed to take notes whether I have visited Reykjavik, New York, or more homely soil.
Q5. What do you consider your most meaningful work creatively to you?
Stephen: The past handful of years have seen a rise in interest in my football poetry. I am Poet in Residence at Dumbarton Football Club and the Poetry Editor for Nutmeg Poetry Magazine (football periodical), as well as often being the reason for many of my bookings. However, I am fiercely proud of any work I choose to share – whether it is noir, supernatural, music, or afore-mentioned social matters.
Q6. Favourite activities to relax?
Stephen: Running is one of my favourite activities for clearing the head, and until recently I also volunteered for litter-picking in my local cemetery. I also love to get into the hills and bag some munros and corbetts, but I’m a little fair-weather when it comes to that.
Q7. What is a favourite line/stanza/lyric from your writing?
“There is something inside this club’s bones like elephant tusks and volcanic stone”.(c) Stephen Watt
From ‘Diddy Cups’ (2018), written for Dumbarton FC reaching the Irn Bru cup final.
Q8. What kind of music inspires you the most? What is a song or songs that always come back to you as an inspiration?
I love punk and songs such as “New Rose” by The Damned and “Lust For Life” by Iggy Pop never fail to get me moving. I’ve also co-written a book of acid house poems and short stories with Jason Golaup called “Voodoo Daze” which was inspired by A Guy Called Gerald’s “Voodoo Ray”. However, I do tend to listen to ambient-electronic to get me in the mood for writing poems and have counted on Boards of Canada, Aphex Twin and Orbital to get me in that mindset.
Q9. Do you have any recent or upcoming books, music, events, projects that you’d like to promote?
I will be headlining “In Verse” at Cumbernauld Theatre on 15th September
and featuring on the bill for Summer Anywhere Festival in Edinburgh on 18th September
Bonus – any funny memory or strange occurrence?
During my 100th gig at Eden Festival in 2014, I wore shades on stage because I was so hungover/tired. I had a great time on stage – with flaking DayGlo paint on my face which had been applied the previous day – and had a girl leap on stage to hug me while the crowd chanted my name. It’s probably been as rock n’roll as it has ever got. I had got engaged in New York a few days before and was feeling exhausted, but it did help me get through that afternoon.
Bio: Stephen Watt is the author of five poetry collections and the editor of two punk poetry collections on behalf of the Joe Strummer Foundation and seminal-Manchester punk band, Buzzcocks. Stephen is the poet-in-residence at Dumbarton Football Club, the Poetry Editor for Nutmeg Magazine, and former Makar for the Federation of Writers (Scotland). Awards include the StAnza International Digital Poetry Prize, Poetry Rivals slam winner, Tartan Treasures award, and winner of the inaugural Liverpool Poetry Prize.
Twitter – @Stephenwattpoet
Facebook – Stephen Watt Poet