How has being a London Laureate impacted your career?
To be shortlisted for such a prestigious role was a real turning point for my confidence in terms of my practice and professional development. It helped me to believe in my writing – thus one writes more, writes better (there is nothing quite like self-doubt to stunt growth). It has helped me develop my voice and style, to be more deliberate about what I want to do, where I want to go, who my poetry is for, how it can be used to reach them, and what it can potentially change.
When people learn that I am a London Laureate, when it is read in bios, or mentioned at event readings, people look up, they pay attention. It is a title with weight. This, of course, is a door opener to many other opportunities – performances, commissions, but more importantly than this, being a London Laureate means that you are part of a support network. You are not a poet in isolation, but a member of a team. You are growing alongside other esteemed poets, you encourage and push one another. You also have access to a team of wonderful creative professionals who are invested in developing your writing and professional career.
Tell us about what you’ve been involved with since last National Poetry Day
Since last NPD, I have been awarded third prize in the Great British Write Off competition 2014; Highly Commended in the Poetry Book Society’s National Student Competition; awarded a place as poetry mentee on the prestigious Jerwood/Arvon Mentoring Scheme 2015-16, and had poems published by Magma and The Emma Press.
I have performed at numerous venues and poetry events, as well as curated two of my own. I have continued to develop my facilitation portfolio – most recently acting as Poet Coach to the London team in national youth slam, Shot From the Lip, at the Southbank Centre. I have also been working on my debut pamphlet with help from my London Laureate bursary, which I have used towards buying myself time to write.
What would you advise anyone who’s thinking of applying for the Young Poet Laureate 2015/2016?
Don’t be discouraged by whoever else is applying. Don’t wait to begin doing all the things you have wanted to do with your writing or within your professional practice, think of your application beginning, actively, now. Get involved with all the fantastic things Spread The Word do. Think about why you want to be YPL 2015/16, what it could mean – for you, for London, what you could offer to the role, and how you could make it your own.
What are your interests and what opportunities are you looking for?
Interests and work I’d be interested in continuing/exploring further:
Reading, Writing – poetry, obviously. Editorial, opinion and copy commissions.
Facilitation – creative writing, ekphrasis, mixed arts collaborations eg. photography, film, music etc. for schools, libraries, colleges, creative & charitable organizations, workshops for women/women of colour.
Curation – poetry & mixed arts events, talks, symposiums, festivals.
Other: Readings/Performances/Panel discussions, Commissions.