Exploring Spuds of history with Steven Wailing

I first met Steven Waling all the way back at a now legendary poetry discussion group in Manchester called Poetica back in 2007 when I was first starting to make my own inroads into the Manchester poetry circuit.

Moving to Manchester in 1980 himself, Steven won the Smith/Doorstop Pamphlet Competition with his first publication, Riding Shotgun, in 1988, and also that year as a prize-winner in the Lancaster Festival Poetry Competition.

Since then he has since had published a number of collections, including Calling Myself On The Phone (Smith/Doorstop) and his new pamphlet “Spuds in History”.

Spuds in History as published by Someroast poetry is the first part of a long term project under the title “Disparate Measures”. In this collection, we see the author’s longstanding interest in the cut-up and the askew brought into focus with his customary observational tendencies. It’s not just that he notices what other’s don’t but from a different angle, and often with a relatable compassion.

Spuds in History came out in January of this year, and as Steven advises me as all poets have found the last few months have been difficult “Well, I did manage to do a couple of pre-launch readings and I read at Manchester Poets early in the year so I at least managed to do a launch, unlike some people. However, any further possibility of launches and reading has largely shut down. I have made a couple of Facebook films of me reading from the book, but I haven’t exactly been as pro-active as I perhaps ought to have been. It’s difficult to get up the energy when everyday seems like the same. However, I am about to do a reading on Zoom this coming Tuesday, and I recently sent a review copy out so I’m finally getting my finger out a little. The worst part of writing sometimes seems to be the promotion of yourself; and I’ll confess to not being as good at it as I ought to be.”

I’ve seen both of the videos Steven refers to on his facebook page and they are colourful affairs which are to be expected as you would expect off him which he adds “I actually did enjoy doing them so I think I’d like to do some more. I wanted to do them because I thought it would be good to do something with my writing and give myself a little motivation. I think this lockdown can give you a feeling of being in limbo, so I needed to kick myself out of that. I was on a learning curve; I’ve never actually used the camera on my computer before and I think it took me some time to get it right. I’ve been on Zoom a few times since; so I’ve got used to the camera and the microphone a bit more. I’ve been thinking of doing a few more; but I think I need to be able to ‘target’ them a bit more and I’m not sure how to do that yet. I haven’t ventured onto youtube yet. I don’t really know how to ‘market’ them to get somebody to watch them. But I did enjoy the process, so I shall do more.

“Yesterday I joined the Writers’ Forum workshop where just over a dozen of us shared poems on line. “ He carried on “Writers’ Forum, by the way, has a long history, going back to the late ’50s, started by visual/concrete/sound poet Bob Cobbing and being the starting point for many British experimental poets, So to be involved with that is really good. They’d usually have met in a room over a pub in London, so it’s perhaps one of the few benefits of lockdown than one can make these contacts.”

“As to the future,” When asked about what next He added” I have put a book together and sent it to a publisher that a Facebook friend put out was looking for collections. I don’t expect to hear for a couple of weeks about that, but it was interesting to put another book together. It includes a few new ones but quite a lot that have not yet been in a book. Finding that opportunity at least gave me the stimulus to look at my poems again, and see that I’m not completely useless!”

“Here’s another shorter collection, a conceptual piece, that I really ought to send off. I read most of it at the Writers’ Forum meeting, and it seemed to get a good response. So that will go next I think. “ He concludes “When I get a bit of space, I’ll do another couple of films too. I’m still writing too, that doesn’t seem to stop. Sometimes about the Covid situation sometimes not. I seem these days to build my poems up rather than splurge and then cut back.

More about Steven’s new collection can be found at:

https://someroastpoetry.wordpress.com/

Steven can be found on facebook at:

https://www.facebook.com/steven.waling.5

Andy N is the author of four full length poetry collections - the most recent being the Streets were all we could see. He is also the host / creator of 'Spoken Label' - a author / writer chat series as well as Podcast series such as Reading in Bed, Comics Unity, Wrestle-Up and the Koll, Andy N and Amanda show. He also ambient music under the name of Ocean in a Bottle. His official blog is onewriterandhisplc.blogspot.com Occasionally he does sleep.