An Interview with chef-de-jour

It’s a poet! No- it’s a father! No- a drama teacher… a freelance writer.. a sports enthusiast… NO! It’s… CHEF-DE-JOOOUR!!!

One of our newer Hubbers, chef-de-jour has a broad range of interests and publishes great Hubs on all of them. To get to know the man behind the travel guides, sports commentary, poems, and drama tutorials, we invited chef-de-jour to join us in a good ol’ fashioned blog interview. Check out our exchange below!

Your Hubs reflect a variety of interests- sports, travel, poetry, drama… have you always been interested in these things? Are some passions older than others?

I’ve been involved in sports since I was knee high to a grasshopper as they say. Football and cricket I played for years – cricket is the strange national game the English play – rugby union – that’s played with an oval ball and inspired the Americans to develop their ‘American football’, and athletics. Is that all clear? I play table tennis now, very good for hand/eye coordination.

Poetry is not quite an obsession. I’ve been reading and writing it since a boy and have always loved the way different poets manipulate the language. The first poet I read seriously was Dylan Thomas, then Ted Hughes, DH Lawrence, Sylvia Plath….and I’m rediscovering and discovering old and new. HubPages is a great outlet for poets of all shapes and sizes. I really like that idea.

I’ve travelled a fair amount, mostly to mountainous areas, and lived in Spain, the Netherlands, Australia and now Yorkshire! I should be settling down but there’s no telling where I’ll end up next.

Your Hubs on teaching drama and drama therapy are both useful and inspiring. What drove you to become a drama teacher? What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?

Drama, yes. It’s in the genes, the blood, the whole package. Being an impractical sort of person I thought I’d better teach something that didn’t involve too much science or use of handtools. I’ve worked with all types of students and still get a great buzz from watching them practice, perform, achieve. My drama group works so hard! Months of rehearsals and warm ups all building up to performance night when the nerves are like frazzled whatnots and the buzz is that of trapped mosquitos!? What? That feeling of completion, of a job well done, is enough reward.

Your travel Hubs are packed with beautiful photos and great tips. What advice can you give to Hubbers who are about to go on a holiday and are interested in Hubbing about it?

Hubbers off on holiday eh? Well I’d say enjoy yourself first and foremost because that will fuel your will to write and record. Go somewhere you’ve always wanted to go. Then try and balance your time between complete leisure and recording for a future travel Hub. Take photographs, take notes, keep things that’ll help remind you of specific details, like the price of a sandwich, the personal anecdote of the local shepherd, the route you took and why. If you keep a diary then you may well automatically record useful material for a Hub, or two.

In addition to writing about and enjoying sports, especially football (soccer), do you play any?

As previously mentioned I’ve always been quite athletic/sporty and still enjoy all kinds of ball sports. I have slowed down a wee bit recently but can manage a spot of football (soccer) table tennis, volleyball (strictly amateur level). I love walking and can walk miles if nobody stops me or reminds me that I have deadlines to meet.

You have poems published in several places, as well as articles published in the Guardian- how do you get your work out there? Are their any particular approaches you’ve taken?

The poems I had published online were new ones revamped from much older material. I have lots like that. The two blogs are good quality so I was happy to have them accepted. There are many blogs that accept all kinds of poems so I’d recommend getting stuff out there if you want to share your work. I tend to focus on nature and the relationship we have with it.

The articles I wrote for the Guardian were again nature based – full of observations and descriptive prose, very short. That was down to persistence! I’ve always written things down after, say, a walk in the woods and I noticed the Guardian had a slot for all things countryside so I sent some off to the editor. Sent more to the editor. The response was positive but ‘we are not in a position to accept your material at the moment’ …so,
I tried again. I had two pieces accepted which was great. I’d advise would be writers to perservere if you know you’re good enough. Like with hubbing, if you focus on the things you know well, the niche, and really work at it, learning all the time, things might fall into place – and you’ve probably deserved it. If not, you know you gave it your very best.

How is your process for writing poetry different from your approach to writing Hubs or freelance articles?

This is a good question. Poetry for me is driven by feeling/emotion so I might get my initial word or sentence or jumble of words direct from observation/experience/involvement. That’s the lucky/mysterious part – even then these words can fade, just like a dream fades as the morning passes by. You may have them for an hour or tbut then they’re gone, like Wallace Stevens’s pheasant wo disapearing into a bush or Lavinia Greenlaw’s flipping tof a grediving belowailat whale the waves. So it’s important to write these precious snippets down as soon as you can. These will not necessarily form a coherent sentence but may be words that help you develop and expand and build upon – so the poem takes shape bit by bit, like a plant growing, or an electrical circuit forming, or a pattern on water spreading. Some poems form quickly, others hardly at all. Most are hard work, or a mixture of work and fascination. I find I want to capture the moment or event in a poem so it stays with me.

Prose on the other hand is relatively straightforward and is more like factory output! Oh dear, hope I’ve not upset anyone. You still need skill of course but for me the work is on the surface whereas poetry demands a deeper sort of energy and can be much harder to bring up into fresh air. Prose poetry is an attempt to bridge the gap but I’m not so certain that bridge is safe.

How do you balance your different roles as a father, teacher, and freelance writer (not to mention poet and Hubber)?

This word balance is so important! Juggling also comes into mind! OK, my teenage sons are now semi independent which brings with it joys and sorrows – they’re not my little playmates anymore so I don’t spend much time with them now (they’re off to uni and going on crazy Kerouac like travels) …BUT… I’ve lots more energy for creative things like Hubs and poems and arty things. Work is a bonus and helps me keep my feet on the ground, or at least one! This is the beauty of maturing, you find yourself in a different space and opportunities come along. We are here to take upon us the mystery of things said the bard, or something like that.

What made you initially join HubPages? What are your future plans on the site?

As for the Hubs – I’m really enjoying the process of putting them together and learning as I go along. There’s so much to take in! What a labyrinth we’ve all entered! At the moment I just want to create as many good quality Hubs as I can, to share what I know in a decent written form. The tools available on Hub pages make this an interesting creative and fun challenge.

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