Tony Stringfellow is a respected poet, writer, novelist, artist and specialist prop maker - not to mention a father, husband, successful businessman and DJ. He has had several books published and runs the Poetry Train, regular spoken word events in and around Wolverhampton.
How old were you when you started writing?
I guess I started writing seriously as a poet when I was about 13.
When and where was your first poem published?
Again when I was about 13 in the Express and Star, Wolverhampton's newspaper.
How did you break into the notoriously difficult publishing and secure publishing contracts for your work?
I found a subject that would sell, a book about Marc Bolan.
Of all your creative endeavours, which one do you hold dearest and why?
I feel most satisfied with poetry and I love presenting Page One, my poetry led radio show, I feel quite at home in the studio and find radio to be such a fulfilling and interesting art form, if you can call it that.
You've met and worked with many celebrities, is there anyone you haven't worked with who you'd like to now, given the opportunity?
I'd love to work with Robert Plant, his voice would suit my words.
Which 'hat' suits you best - writer, poet, artist or novelist and why?
I hate pigeon holes, but I would have to say poet, it's in my heart, I look at it as painting pictures with words. Poetry has no boundaries now, it's an open book, there is nothing that you can't express through poetry but at the same time the challenge that you impose upon yourself to excel beyond your creative limits, is in itself limitless.
Do you have any writing ambitions left to fulfil?
Oh yes, many. I would love a best seller that was a poetry collection!
Who are your literary idols?
Hmm... many, Byron, Wordsworth ... Ann Rice, Mary Shelley ... I'd read all of Graham Green by the time I was 16 ... oh and Roger McGough.
Which contemporary poets do you enjoy reading?
Carol Anne Duffy, Simon Armitage. I have always loved Stephen Morris, who I have recently become friends with, in fact he's written the foreword for my next collection.
What was your favourite book as a child? Did it inspire you to write?
At first I couldn't think of one, because I don't remember reading fiction as a child. I was very much into books that taught me, I had a book on wildlife that my dad bought me (I still have it) and I was really into the space race, so anything about that. Most of my childhood books were factual.
Do you have a special place you write?
Yes, I have a 'cottage' at the end of our garden that is my studio/office ... my creative space.
Tell us more about the Poetry Train…
The Poetry Train is really a vehicle to help popularise poetry through events, influenced by my entertainment experience. I run anything from open mic nights to poetry extravaganzas under it's banner ... always a great poetical journey.
Can you recommend any spoken words poets we should see perform?
Many ... Mark Niel, Emma Pursehouse, Dave Reeve ... so many.
Tell us more about your radio show …
Page One is a poetry led literature show, it goes out on Fridays at 8pm on www.wcrfm.com and 101.8fm around Wolverhampton. I have been broadcasting for over 2 years now and I have a worldwide listenership, even reaching poets in Nepal! The premise is to treat poetry as you would any other art form ... like rock and roll; it's an entertainment show, about poetry! A radio stage for all poets, the famous and the not so famous.
Do you have any words of wisdom you can offer budding poets and writers?
I asked Roger McGough this very question 37 years ago, and again 2 months ago ... he gave me completely different answers, but the first was the best guide for me ... to write as much as you can as often as you can, it is practice if nothing else, like an athlete training. I would add ... write from the heart.
Do you have any projects in the pipeline you can tell us about?
My next collection is ready to go, 'Cracks in the Shell'. My novel 'When Raindrops Fall' is well under way, and there's a children's book and character that you can catch on U tube, 'Sog of the Bog'. And much, much more ....
To keep up to date with all of Tony's poetry projects please visit www.tonystringfellow.com. Tony's poetry led radio show is PAGE ONE on 101.8 WCRFM (and online at www.wcrfm.com), every Friday at 8.00pm.