Intergalactic Tiddlywinks Champion?
WARNING: Can you spot the "red herrings" in Colin West's interview?
Colin West. It's a great pleasure to welcome you to the Poetry Zone Interview. First question. When did you start writing?
I remember enjoying making up stories and poems when at school (like lots of kids!). I really got into writing, though, when I was a teenager, and discovered young poets like Roger McGough and Adrian Henri. Their poems were great fun (and still are!) and I tried imitating them.
So, are they your favourite poets?
Yes, along with Edward Lear (his "The Owl and the Pussy Cat" is the first poem I remember!), Ogden Nash and Walter de la Mare.
Why do you write poetry?
like writing poetry because, like music, it has a beat and a
Do you write anything other than poetry?
Yes, I do. I write and illustrate stories about Monty, the dog who wears glasses, and characters like Big Wig and Percy the Pink, and for younger children, picture books such as Have You Seen the Crocodile, and One Day in the Jungle.
How long does it take to write a poem?
poem can take anything between ten seconds and ten years! That's to
say, some come instantly and seem to "write themselves" and
others may languish half-finished until I look at them again and
Do you visit schools?
Yes, but fewer than I used to when I was younger!
How many schools have you visited?
I've lost track as I've been doing it for 25 years!
Which was most unusual school that you've visited?
A school on a mountain peak and could only be accessed by mule train, and then only if there was an "r" in the month.
And what was your best moment?
always touched when children have prepared something special for me,
such as a collage based on my books, or rehearsed a song for me. Some
children I visited in Newcastle had made a model of my character Monty
the Dog by cannibalising a Snoopy toy and placing a pair of glasses
on his nose.
all the poems you've written, which is your favourite?
you any pets?
do you spend your spare time?
did you do before becoming a poet?
Really? Did you win any trophies?
but I buried them all in my garden (for safe keeping) when I went
So, they are still there.
Then you became a pirate. I bet that was exciting.
Especially as I taught my parrot to play tiddlywinks.
And I bet you became the Intergalactic Tiddlywinks Champion!
Don't be silly.
What was the best planet you visited?
Probably the planet Zogg, as the minerals there make the finest tiddlywinks.
Have you any plans for the future? More planets to visit, perhaps?
plans are to carry on writing poems and stories till I run out of ideas.
Then I'll stay indoors and read all the books I've collected
you have a web page?
Lastly, Colin, what advice would you give to young and aspiring poets?
Write about things you're interested in - anything from Football to Fairies - and remember the 3 "R's" of poetry -- rhythm, rhyme and repetition. But don't be too "tied down" by rhyme -- a poem may sound better if it doesn't rhyme at all.
Colin West, thank you very much.
Shiver me timbers. It was a pleasure. Fancy a game of tiddlywinks?
Illustrations and Cousin Jane, Toboggan and Urang-utan are all © Colin West