Writer of the Week: Dennis W. Turner

writer of the week

Meet our Writer Of The Week, “Friend” poet Dennis W. Turner.

You can read his poem, “Kids At Play”, in the July 29 Special.

When did you decide to focus on your writing? What did you do before that?

It was when I retired, twenty years ago, because I had more time.

When I came to the Isle of Man I was interested in the history of the island, and my books about Manx myths and legends grew from there. That’s when I started concentrating on poetry.

Previously I’d written rhyming verse, but only occasionally as I was a full-time teacher.

How much would you say that living on the Isle of Man has influenced your poetry?

When I first moved to the island, I was very interested in Manx history. I used the Manx Museum as the source for my research.

As I habitually wrote in rhyming verse (and still do), I started making notes on my research in rhyme — and the “Manx Myths And More” books followed.

So yes, the Isle of Man definitely influenced my subject choice.

You’ve also illustrated your own poems for your books. How did you decide which parts of the poems to illustrate?

When deciding what to illustrate, I aimed at something that would capture the essence of each poem.

It was important that the drawings didn’t take precedence, as the stories were the main subject.

My favourite medium is pastels, but for the books I chose to do pen and ink line drawings.

I did sketches on-site, then at home I would do the final pen and ink illustrations.

(c) Illustration by Dennis W. Turner

Do you have a favourite poem? What do you like about it?

My favourite poem is “The Man He Killed” by Thomas Hardy.  Although it’s a short poem, it has a big moral about the stupidity of war.

It’s written simply, in colloquial language which makes it accessible. Although it appears simple, it’s very cleverly told.

Notebook and pencil, or laptop? Kitchen table, or study? Blank wall, or inspiring view?

I write bits and pieces as they come to me and jot them down on paper with a pencil — or pen — and then I decipher my scribbles, crossings-out and notes onto my laptop.

The ideas and jottings happen anywhere I happen to be; quite often when I’m out walking.

I transfer the verses onto laptop sitting comfortably in my lounge, with the laptop on a beanbag tray on my knee.

Blank wall or inspiring view? Ah. That can be either. Ideas can come from anywhere.

And a P.S. – What’s your top tip for an aspiring Writer Of The Week?

My top one is: jot it down as soon as the thought comes to you. Don’t rely on your memory, as memory doesn’t always work.

If I may, can I add: read through what you have written more than once, and always be prepared to edit.

For more from our Writer Of The Week series, click the tag below.

Abigail Phillips

Abbie is the newest member of the fiction team at the "Friend." She loves how varied the role is - every day is different and there is always a new story to read. She is keen to work closely with established writers and discover new writers, too.