Outsider Heart: An Interview with Trevor Wright
Local poet, Trevor Wright, is a member of Nottingham Writers’ Studio. His debut poetry collection ‘Outsider Heart’ has just been published by Big White Shed.
When did you start writing poetry and what inspired you to start?
Three years ago. I’d always wanted to write but was told at school that it wasn’t for me. I was in the library and Derby City Poets were reading so I went up for a chat. They invited me along to the monthly crit group and I took something I’d written about my grandad’s war bible. It was three poor poems into one rambling epic but the close attention to detail helped me work it up into something presentable and that was that – new mental connections were fired up and ready to go.
How long have you been a member of Nottingham Writers’ Studio and what do you get out of it?
This is my third year. Although I’m from Nottingham I work in Derby so have not been able to access everything it offers and don’t get to as many workshops and socials that I’d like to. However, it’s been useful to be able to book rooms, find out what’s going on across genres, receive notification of events and opportunities, and simply meet and discuss writing and the world with other like-minded people. Pippa Hennessey was supportive in the early days and I’ve learned a lot from members and made some good friends.
Is there an overarching theme or narrative to your debut collection, Outsider Heart?
In a sense, the same as everyone else—i.e. sin, redemption, and death —via little snapshots of past and present experiences. Leanne Moden, a DIY Poet and the organiser of Crosswords, looked at 30 poems and helped narrow the selection to decent ones that would fit as a collection. Leanne then found a way to link the personal and the quietly political together.
On reflection, there is something about living with difference and finding ways to keep on the good foot. I’m autistic and although it’s not a collection about autism, I wanted to put something unmasked and emotive out there. If it helps challenge assumptions then that’s a bonus. Then again, once something is out there you can’t control what people pick up on.
What are your experiences working with the publisher Big White Shed (BWS)? How did you approach them and what was it about your writing that appealed to them?
Positive. Anne Holloway helped refine the first draft making suggestions that I’d missed—a simple use of italics to emphasise different voices for example. Megan Hart and Rich Heaven took ideas for the artwork that linked both the first poem in the collection and the title. Working with BWS and Leanne was a collaborative, supportive, and creative experience.
I didn’t approach BWS. I was chatting to Anne at the Jam Cafe and she asked if I was interested in a collection. I had a set of poems that I felt confident in and had recently done a set at Southwell Folk Fest. A few people came up afterward to ask where they could buy some of my poems. So when Anne asked I thought, why not.
As for, what was it about my writing that appealed to them. At first, Anne said she had heard me read so knew I wasn’t a ‘poetry numpty’ and once we had a workable draft I remember her saying that she liked the fact that it was a ‘ hopeful tome’—this was post Brexit and mid Trump—although the next volume will be darker.
Do you perform at many spoken word nights? Does your poetry lend itself well to performance?
Yes, a lot—there are not many I haven’t tried out. It’s a useful discipline that helps road test new stuff. Combining open mic experience with crit group feedback identifies and refines the best pieces. I can write anywhere, usually starting stuff on my phone or iPad and write quickly but then spend a long time editing so that triangulation is invaluable.
Sometimes the poetry lends itself to performance and sometimes not. I’ve learned to mix some performance material with the quieter pieces and vary the content according to settings and audiences, choosing different material for Wired, say, than for Speech Therapy, or for the DIY quarterly showcase. If you give it a go people can be amazingly supportive.
Will there be a launch event for Outsider Heart?
Yes. Anne and Leanne tell me that a photo opportunity holding a celebratory glass is mandatory. Details will be in the NWS newsletter and on the Poetry in Nottingham and Poetry in Derby Facebook pages soon.
Where can the collection be purchased?
Ross has a few at Five Leaves Bookshop but primarily from me at these local events or by post for £6.75 inc p&p paid by cheque or PayPal: email@example.com.