Tuesday 16 April 2013

Rhonda Poholke

I'd like to welcome you to my interview with Rhonda Poholke.  Enjoy.

Rhonda Poholke

Hello Rhonda, can you please introduce yourself?
Hi - my name is Rhonda Poholke and I live in sometimes sunny Ararat, Victoria, Australia.
How long have you been writing?
Ive been writing all my life really, only I didnt know I was writing as a child when I used to invent little plays behind the haystack.
What first got you interested in writing?
I loved the shape, the  feel, the power of words and the way they could fit together. I remember writing an essay at secondary school, using powerful descriptives like foaming depths and awash with waves. I didnt start writing seriously until I was in my mid thirties.
Do you attend a writing group?
Grampians Writers Group, which has membership chiefly from Ararat and Stawell in Victoria, Aus, though their are members further away. I participated in getting the group started in 1985  but left and only recently Ive returned. Grampians Writers Group is a very friendly group where everyone is made welcome.  Over the years GWG has run many literary awards and workshops and been very busy out in the community supporting writers of all ages.
Im also a member of the Deacon Literary Society and a long-time member of the Melbourne Poets Union.
Why do you attend a writing group?
Because I need to be with like minded people who understand what it is  to be a writer. Through support and friendships we can all  benefit and grow in our personal writing.
What is the most valuable thing you have taken away from your writing group?
The friendships. Just knowing I can  phone or email any of its members for help, support, or just to chat. 
What genre(s) do you write?  What drew you to this/these genre(s)?
I started off writing short stories and then turned to poetry. I didnt think I could write poetry until some one suggested I could.  I tried writing a poem and it worked, though a simplistic piece at the time, it was a poem!  From that small suggestion have come many poems, with many of them being published.
Are there any genres that you dont enjoy writing?  Why?
Though I admire all genres of writing if they are done well, I dont see myself doing a lot of  them because  I do other things, and I guess Im a poet!
Id love to write a novel one day but I dont put all my time into writing (though writing is something I constantly think about) I never seem to have the time for anything longer than poetry, though writing a poem can still take me a long time and lead me into a struggle.
What types of things do you write?
Poetry is what I enjoy the most. I relish the challenge of a poem, the way the words take you into the journey of the poem, and sometimes you dont have a say where they are taking you - it just happens, like love.  It is so satisfying to see your piece that you have spent hours/days/weeks/months on, finally finished, and THEN you start the next one.  I wrote lyrics for a song and a local singer put them to music, and I believe she has sung it but I have not heard  her as yet.  Sometimes I do art around my words. I love the idea of paint and words marrying.
Have you ever had anything published? 
Ive had many things published over the 26 or so years that I have been writing seriously. Ive participated in online Renga and done many public readings, unpaid, and I consider this my contribution to the communities I live in or visit as a writer.  I self published a small local book called Things That Happen in 1995, and was published by the Melbourne Poets Union in 2007 in their chapbook series with my book If You are Quiet.  In 2008 I self published through Rebus Press, Melbourne, my book - First She Lived the journey of Eliza Lipson Allan first white woman to die in the district, which I still have a few copies of. Ive been lucky enough to have been a prize winner in various awards too. 
Have you sent your writing to agents/publishers?  Have you received any rejections?
Yes I have sent heaps of things out to publishers over the years but not agents. Ive had more rejections than acceptances but I just keep plodding along.
Would you consider self-publishing/e-publishing?  Why/why not?  Are you interested in eBooks, or do you prefer the old fashioned paper-made books?
I love the look of  a real book and to be able to hold  it in my hand and refer to a paper page. I guess if it goes the way of e books in the years to come, then writers will have to adapt. Ive received a couple e books and I find them very hard to read. 
Who/what influences your writing?  Where do you get your inspiration from?
From life. Things I see around me, and sometimes other writers work inspires me.
Often just driving along in the car, Im inspired by things I see out the window. A lady taking a load of washing inside, in a small town Im going through, or a bird flying up over a hill. Etc etc.
How do you come up with your characters names and personalities?
That can be hard. Sometimes they just come to me. I have a book with n ames in it that I often refer to.  Personalities I model on people I know sometimes, taking a bit from one or the other so its not an obvious person. I think I put myself into the character a little too, even if I have  to pretend/imagine  to be that bad or whatever. 
Do you have a writing routine?

I have no real routine. Its mainly when I get an idea, which can often hit me in the middle of the night, or when Im at work.  Or if Im on a deadline for a competition I have to really persevere and that is good because it makes me work and I surprise myself by getting finished.  Recently I was working on a poem about a local historical building for a competition and most disappointingly I did not make the deadline. I felt a sense of failure for not making that deadline but the poem just did not work. Ive decided I need to research it more. I have not given up on the idea though.
Do you start out with a complete idea for your stories, or do you just start writing and hope for the best?
I never have a complete idea. From  one small thought I have to keep working on it, and  waiting for other thoughts to come in and link up. And of course then, it has to be put in the right sequence which often takes quite a while.
Do you have an editing process?  
I dont have anyone else reading the piece. I stroll up and down the passage and through the house reading it out aloud to myself. Only my dogs listen. 
Dogs are great listeners!  What is the best piece of writing advice youve ever been given?
Never give up. Keep trying.
What advice could you give to a new writer?
Never give up. Keep trying, and dont be afraid to try new genres and ideas.
What do you enjoy the most/least about writing?
Its the pointy end of everything to finish a poem, and be pleased with it, knowing youve said everything you set out to plus more sometimes. On the other hand, writing can be so  frustrating when a piece is not going to plan. Quite often I have to put time into researching my subject, and I might not use all the information but I have to know it, and this takes the longest time but is worth it in the end.
Have you ever attended an open mic night for spoken word performers, and either an observer or a performer?
Yes. I won one at Kyneton, Victoria once. They had some great nights over there.
Have you ever entered any writing competitions?  Have you ever won?
I often enter competitions and have had a few wins, but more often I dont win. Then Ill have another look at the piece and perhaps send it off to another competition with changes.
How important is it for you to share your writing?
Its amazing how I sometimes think a piece is finished and ready to go to comp, and reading it out in the group, some one will make a suggestion or comment and I suddenly realise yes, I could improve it by perhaps that  change. Yes, it is very important to read your piece to other writers.
Apart from writing, what are your other hobbies/interests?
I have 4 beautiful grandchildren who I love to catch up with and Ive a great feeling for  animals and have several pets to take care of. I work part time in my own small cleaning business.  Im  a member of a weight management group because I believe that allowing time for exercise and good eating plans is instrumental in keeping healthy. Ive an interest in older cars and Im a member of a local car club.
If you could have written anything, what do you wish that could have been?
I wouldve liked to have helped Shakespeare with one of his plays.
What types of things do you read?  Do you think your writing reflects your book tastes?
I like reading historical novels if they are well written and not too overwordy and yes Im inspired by what Im reading. But I dont usually go through with writing a piece; I have reams of scribbled notes that could be poems one day.
What are you working on at the moment?
Ive almost finished a patchwork bag which is a poem in itself.
Would you be able to provide a short piece of your work?

That brown paddock
all those tiny sprouts after rain.

Waters break
I grip the bedpost
push, each wave,

dream of the golden tide
taking me
across the summer plain.

In the silver morning,
a green slope,
my baby sucks. 
Is there anything else youd like to add?
To all the especially young writers  - just hang in there - dont be afraid of rejection. If you have an original idea, trust that it is worth perservering with - and always accept critique, and keep an open mind. Never think that your work is perfect. I mean it might be, but chances are, some one elses opinion will  be helpful. Dont take yourself too serious. Have fun, enjoy writing!!
Thank you Rebeccah for your open forum and your generosity in sharing.
 Thank you for being a part of it  Rhonda.


  1. Hey there. I have put a link to your blog on my post for O on the A - Z Challenge which is for tomorrow. My son Rocco is picking a number on the linky list at random and I post the link for each day. Hope you don't mind.

    I always like reading your interviews, They are really handy and a great way to see how other creatives go through their process.



    1. Aw thank you (and thanks to Rocco for randomly picking my blog) :D How exciting!