How has being a London Laureate impacted your career?
In a word, massively. It has changed my whole perspective in terms of how far poetry can become an earner, instead of just a passion. Meeting and working with so many lovely and like-minded people also gave me a lot of confidence in my own identity as a writer. Before I went on the finalists’ retreat to Ipswich, I wouldn’t have felt able to say ‘I’m a poet’ but would always say ‘I write poetry’ and feel a bit sheepish about it. No more!
Tell us about what you’ve been involved with since last National Poetry Day
It’s been an exciting year; as well as taking lots of time to develop my work, I’ve just completed a week in Scotland as Poet in Residence for StAnza Festival, and have been performing all over London. This September I’ll be fulfilling the dream of going to Oxford to study an Mst. in Creative Writing, and am in the process of planning a music and poetry event for students in Cardiff. Best of all, I’ve been accepted onto an Arctic expedition next June; for three weeks I’ll be living on an old-fashioned schooner, sailing around Svalbard and writing an extended environmental poem and blog.
What would you advise anyone who’s thinking of applying for the Young Poet Laureate 2015/2016?
If you’re serious enough about poetry to be considering this, you should definitely go the whole hog and just apply – the worst that can happen is you don’t get called, and that doesn’t mean you’re a bad poet. Don’t worry about what stage you might be at, or your style. If you’re longlisted, the process alone is very valuable, because you will get the chance to test out your work in a very friendly and mixed arena with lots of constructive criticism – that’s amazing in terms of self-development and making links, even if you don’t get to the next stage. Also remember you can apply more than once, so if you do turn up and think ‘hmmm I have some tweaking to do’ (incidentally everybody does!) you will have the following year to put everything you’ve learned that day into practice.
What are your interests and what opportunities are you looking for?
I like anything to do with history, food, storytelling and nature, and am always interested in combining art forms – poetry with visuals or music can be fascinating to experience. Most of all, though, I like to play with the unexpected; I would love someone to march up and give me a challenge in a field not normally associated with poetry.
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