Tell us about your poems.
I think that the best poems make you feel something as soon as you hear them, whether it’s joy, sadness, fear or nausea. They bypass thought and go straight to your emotions, like a good piece of music, and the understanding and thinking follows later. This is what I try to achieve in my writing.
Someone said that a scientist tries to convey something nobody knows in a way that everybody can understand, and that a poet does the opposite. I believe that poetry makes the everyday more mysterious and beautiful, but I think everybody should be able to understand it and have access to it.
I have always written more comfortably in free verse. I use formal structure as a writing exercise but always end up cutting most of it and only using the lines I like. I try to say as much as possible in the smallest amount of words.
How long have you been writing?
I can always remember writing; when I was little I used to make little books out of scrap paper and make my mum sew them in the middle, and make up stories about animals in the style of Farthing Wood, Dick King-Smith etc. I started to take poetry seriously in my last year of school, when I was about seventeen or eighteen.
Do you have any publications to your name? What’s the next stage for your work?
I have had some work published online at www.thecadaverine.com and in a couple of independent magazines. I am making 2009 the year of many submissions, so hopefully a lot more will follow. I am also determined to arrange my work into a collection by the end of the year.
What do you think is your biggest poetic achievement to date?
I find reading my poetry in public very nerve-wracking so my greatest achievement to date is finding the courage to do so! I read at an event at Ikley literature festival in September 2008 and I am proud to say I survived.
What’s the best thing about writing poetry? And the worst?
The best thing is the finished poem, when you know that you can finally leave a piece of work alone. I love feedback, as long as it is constructive. It’s also brilliant when someone discovers a meaning in a poem that I had never intended. It makes me look at my own work in a different way and makes it feel new.
The worst thing is that infuriating time when you know something is wrong with a piece of work but you can’t quite work out what. It usually means you have to cut the bit you like the best. And of course, rejection letters are rubbish.
Got any suggestions for young, upcoming poets?
GET OTHER PEOPLE TO READ YOUR POEMS! Not your mum, because she will love it even if it’s illegible. Someone who you trust enough to be enthusiastic and critical in the right amounts. Writer’s circles or workshops are a good idea if you have access to them.
Also READ OTHER PEOPLE’S POEMS. This blog is an excellent place to start, and there is so much available online, in the library and in second hand bookshops that you really have no excuse. I think you can tell a mile off when a writer doesn’t read.
Reading your work out loud to yourself will always show you any lines that don’t make sense or fit.
Make time to write and do as much of it as possible, not necessarily a routine, but make sure you spend some quality time with your notebook at least a couple of times a week. For a long time I was against having any schedule for writing; I still don’t like the idea of deciding that ‘I am going to be inspired today’ but I do sit down to write more regularly these days to help me keep focused.
Who/what influences your poetry?
I moved to Leeds in 2007 and have fallen in love with it. A lot of the poetry I write is inspired by urban environments, particularly graffiti, which I find fascinating — it’s the most immediate form of literature that exists, it comes out from walls and trees, finds you and smacks you around the face.
I am inspired by people, all kinds of people — lovely ones, bastard ones, those I know well and total strangers. I don’t have a car, so public transport and walking feature unintentionally in most of my poetry!
I very much admire the following poets, writers and lyricists: Raymond Carver, Angela Carter, William Carlos Williams, Allen Ginsberg, Ted Hughes, Roy Fisher, Kurt Vonnegut, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Kevin Barnes, Tim Kasher, Jesse Lacey, Matt Berninger, John Keats.
On Buslingthorpe lane
where they’ve dug up the road, at last,
for the gas leak,
among the skulls of dumped fridges
and last summer’s stiff hemlocks
A mare gallops
in the circle her chain allows.
She is far enough now
from the rag-and-bone man’s cart
to dance on rimed grass
with shoes that flash like knives
on kicked-high feet.
By noon she’ll be gone –
cantering the streets
with the peg she worked loose;
its metal chirrup
repeating at her heels.
Want to see YOUR poems featured here? Drop me a line to firstname.lastname@example.org!