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An Interview with Bill Lythgoe, author of Time is a River


Bill Lythgoe is a retired primary school teacher From Wigan, England, and has been writing poetry seriously for about ten years. He has won prizes awarded by Writing Magazine, Sentinel Literary Quarterly, Fire River Poets, the Wakefield Red Shed, Creative Writing Ink and Nottingham Poetry Society, and been published by Earlyworks Press, Strong Verse, Southport Fringe Poetry and Gordon Square Review (Cleveland, Ohio).

Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?

Back in the 80s I wrote humorous articles for magazines, which helped supplement my income from teaching. I stopped doing this but then after retirement I started going to a writers’ group without much idea what I wanted to write. Other members of the group wrote poems so I decided to give poetry a try. The other members of the group were very encouraging so I entered a poem for a competition in Writing Magazine and was amazed (and very pleased) when it won first prize. Since then I have won a few prizes and had my poems published in a few magazines (see bio). Although I think a touch of humour can always be effective, I am often moved to write because I feel angry about something. That’s why, although I have a wonderful wife, children, and grandchildren, plus lots of friends, they don’t appear in my poems much! I know that I still have a lot to learn.

What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?

I was a primary school teacher in the same local school for 30 years, which I enjoyed very much and never felt the need to move. When I meet ex-pupils, they usually say something like, “I remember you. You played the guitar and you taught us how to play chess.” Nothing about reading, writing, or maths! I felt most pleased when a bloke came up to me in a pub and said, “I’ve been to school, college and uni and you’re the teacher that made the most expression on me.” I’ve also played the bass guitar in jazz, rock, and soul bands. I didn’t do this for the money, which is fortunate because I didn’t make much. Like writing poems, I suppose!

Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?

I’m aware that editors like a theme for a book, but my poems are very varied. It took a while but I decided to sort of spread the poems over the passage of time, so I chose the title from a quote from Jorge Luis Borges.

How did it feel when you first saw your book cover? Or when you first held your book in your hands?

I was very happy to see the cover and the whole book because although I chose the poems and put them in order, the publisher did the rest and I didn’t really know what to expect.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?

I hope that readers will think my poems stand out because they have a style of their own, different from other poets. I want to communicate with all kinds of reader but I guess the perfect one would be someone left wing who is interested in philosophy.

What was the most rewarding/meaningful part of publishing your book?

The most rewarding part was realising that someone, somewhere thought my work was good enough.

What new writing projects are you currently working on? Or, other projects that are not writing?

I am still writing poems and hope I will carry on doing so.

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