In Interview: Danielle Matthews

In Interview: Danielle Matthews

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by Danielle Holian

Q: How and when did you start writing?

A: Writing is something I’ve always done and can always remember doing. I used to write gruesome horror stories as a child, then I began to experiment with poetry. It has always been something which feels very natural and organic to me, something which must be done rather than something which is learned or forced.

Q: Who influences you?

A: I was hugely impressed with Sylvia Plath’s prose when I first read her work, and later discovered her beautiful poetry. I am also a huge admirer of Charles Bukowski, although his style of writing is so at odds with my own. I admire the honesty in both their works, and the brutal way in which they open their hearts for our perusal.

Q: Where did your interest for writing come from?

A: As I said before, it’s always something which has come naturally to me. I can’t ever remember being shown how to write or instructed to do so. I was, however, and still am, a voracious reader, which is really the reason I began to write I think. Finding my way through oceans of words constructed into a narrative made me think about the combinations of words I possessed, and made me want to do something with that potential.

Q: How is your voice different to your thoughts when writing?

A: My voice, something tenuously held onto over various experiments and derailments, is my thoughts put in order. It’s loud and messy in my brain most of the time, and writing helps calm that and bring the chaos down a few notches.

Q: Where do you write?

A: I write mostly at home in my flat with my headphones playing whatever music I’m listening to at the time; or in my travel notebook which comes with me everywhere. I don’t expect inspiration to strike at any minute, but I do expect to lose the thread of a line which comes together perfectly just when you don’t have a pen…

Q:How do you write – with an image or an idea – what triggers your spark to write?

A: Usually the trigger for a poem is a word in connection with an image. I believe that everything has its perfect word which describes its state of being or its function exactly. Stumbling across a word which fits just like that can spark a whole poem. Otherwise it can be an image which brings forth a sentence, and then the rest just follows.

Q: If you could write alongside anyone, who would it be?

A: Fydor Dostoevsky. 100%. I think he would put me to shame and I’d be a quivering wreck in the full beam of genius, but I couldn’t choose anyone else.

Q: What is your favourite poem, and why?

A: One poem which has stuck with me for years is William Blake’s ‘The Sick Rose’. I first read that as a young teenager and it just resonated with so much energy and beauty; I used to have it up on my wall alongside the usual posters of rock stars, which I think says a lot.

Q: Why did you decide to centre your debut upcoming poetry collection “Asylum” around mental health?

A: Mental health issues have had a huge impact on my life personally, as I know they do for millions of people daily. My struggles have shaped me as an individual, although I’d hesitate to say they define me, more that they are an important factor in my life. In writing about the issues many face, I hope to show that no one is truly alone, which is what is so beautiful about poetry.

Q: How has the internet helped your career?

A: I wouldn’t call what I do my career, I write because I don’t know how to do anything else, and I’ve been lucky enough to gain some recognition for it! Saying that, the internet has been hugely helpful in spreading the poetical word, as I’ve had people find me through Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. I hope to build a website in time for ‘Asylum’s release.