20 Questions with... Roger Waldron
Roger Waldron thinks he lives on the edge of razzmatazz when in reality he lives in Sheffield and has travelled. He has had a job. His love for spouting poetry from broken settees knows no boundaries.
1) Tell us about yourself.
Hi, I’m Roger. I don’t think that I have got any distinguishable features, you would probably walk past me in the street. I live in Sheffield, in fact I live about 10 minutes from where I was born, 10 minutes from where I grew up, ten minutes from where I went to school – as you can see, I have travelled around a lot, as long as it was 10 minutes away. Growing up was on a council estate in the outskirts of Sheffield, with my mum and dad and older brother. It was great – lots of football, cricket and generally messing about.
2) Did you always want to be a writer? If you also work what did/do you do?
No, I wanted to be a footballer.
Me and school didn’t really get on. I remember in the last year at school a teacher read us Greek mythology. I was leaving school at 15, without any qualifications so Greek Mythology didn’t help me at all.
I was taken on as an apprentice plumber at the local council and I left that when I had served my time and went into the steelworks for 18 months. When I was 23, I left the steelworks and got a job working for well-known telecommunications company. I stayed there for the next 23 years, by that time I had progressed to become a supervisor and then my job went to a contractor and became a project manager and I worked for them until I retired.
3) Tell us about your most recently published work in a sentence.
My C&A years is a collection of poems for lonely men who tread the backs of their shoes down.
4) What are you working on right now?
More of the same – poems about people and their everyday lives using everyday language – with a working title of ‘Notes from under a Continental Quilt’
5) Do you have a writing routine and if so, what is it?
No, I don’t have a routine. I check my emails to look if Faber & Faber have been in touch or see if I’ve been nominated for something or other.
In all seriousness, I try and edit most days. There isn’t a certain time of day I write. If I don’t have anything to write it down, I try and remember the lines and keep them in my head until I get time.
6) Where do you write? Always in the same space, or different places? Can you write on the move?
I write in bed, last thing at night or first thing in a morning. I’ve probably been writing it in my head, reciting it to myself all day, it’s crazy.
7) What advice do you have for other authors who are starting out? What is the best advice you’ve heard?
Read, read and read again. I buy a lot of poetry collections and pamphlets.
My best advice it was from a college lecturer, and I quote “Put a book under your arm and you’ll get a better girlfriend.” It was 1973 – I was 18 – I met Jane again, we had walked out together when we were 15 and were at school – and she told me to put better books under my arm.
According to my daughter, I am very well read.
8) Do you enjoy live readings or are they a necessary evil – or somewhere in-between?
I’ve always loved an audience. have always loved doing live readings and would love to do more. You never know, someone might read this and think ‘I’ll get in touch with Roger.’
9) Are there any recurring themes in your work? Where do you feel these emanate from if so?
I’m not sure if there are any recurring themes in my work. I’d have to read them again. I write all the same poem, but hopefully with different words.
My poems are about things and people that I see and hear every day.
10) Should writers have a moral purpose? What is the purpose of a writer in today’s society?
I think that they should have morals and should write about the forgotten – people who would never imagine that they would appear in a poem - and that is what I try to do.
11) Do you write between genres or not?
I’m a storyteller and many people have said to me that I have a story for every occasion.
12) Which living writers do you admire the most?
Where to start… here goes… Salima Hill, Geoff Hattersley, Brendan Cleary, Christina Thatcher, Phoebe Stuckes, Ian McMillan, Ian Seed, Annie Ernaux, Paul Birtill, Kim Moore, Fred Voss and Jarvis Cocker.
13) Which dead writers do you admire the most?
Barry Hines, Frank O’Hara, Raymond Carver, JP Donleavy, James Joyce, Richard Braughigan and Ruth Stone.
14) What’s the book that you wish you’d written?
‘Kestrel for a Knave’ by Barry Hines – obviously it is about South Yorkshire and I was about the same age as Billy Casper when I read it. My 15 year old grandson has recently read and loved it and that shows what a great book it is.
‘Tarry Flynn’ by Patrick Kavanagh
‘A Singular Man’ by JP Donleavy
‘The Bob Dylan Song Book’
15) What other external influences do you have? Nature, place, music etc..
Music is a big influence. I’ve said in the past that my education started when John Lennon stepped up to the microphone and sang ‘Don’t Let me Down.’ So song writers are a big influence and so is Sheffield and its people. I don’t write about nature or the moon or the sea or hedgerows.
16) Do you suffer from writer’s block, and do you overcome it if so?
Well, I didn’t write for about 30 years, so you could call that writers block. My family, our garden and my work took over, so I didn’t write at all. I read a lot of books in that time and sometime after I retired, I said to Jane that I might have a go at starting to write poetry again. She replied, “Ok, but write it so I can understand it.” I started reading a lot of poetry again in about 2017.
17) What has been your favourite reaction to your writing?
There’s been a few..
1. “My husband loves it, and he doesn’t understand poetry,” a friend.
2. “My mate has read your book ‘thingy’ and he thinks it’s great, but he doesn’t think it’s poetry,” A friend of a friend.
3. “One of the things I love about poetry is that it is such a varied form. My C&A Years is quite different to any collection I have reviewed in the last three years and is yet another example of the talent uncovered by Jack Caradoc of Dreich. If you like Brian Bilston or Murray Lachlan Young I think Waldron may be the poet for you. Even if you are not familiar with such work, give My C&A Years a go. You are bound to be entertained and you might just have to admit to something you’d prefer not to about yourself.” Nigel Kent - https://nigelkentpoet.wordpress.com
4. “I’m married to a weirdo,” Jane.
18) How do your family and friends feel about your writing?
We don’t talk about it much, it’s just something that I do.
My friends don’t think about it at all, poetry isn’t on their radar. The only people I might talk about it are other people that I meet on Twitter (X)
19) Do you have a favourite bookshop?
Kelham Island Books and Juno – both in Sheffield. I love charity bookshops – you never know what you’re going to stumble on.
20) How do you see writing in the future? Will we become more or less dependent on Amazon?
I do sometimes shop on Amazon – and I always have a wishlist for when my kids ask me what I would like for Christmas. But, I do like to browse bookshops wherever I am – if you go out with me for the day and you lose me, you’ll find me in a bookshop. A good day out for me is when I buy a book (or two…).