I am honoured and privileged that the following writers local, national and international have agreed to be interviewed by me. I gave the writers two options: an emailed list of questions or a more fluid interview via messenger.
The usual ground is covered about motivation, daily routines and work ethic, but some surprises too. Some of these poets you may know, others may be new to you. I hope you enjoy the experience as much as I do.
is a UK based poet, artist, writer, and activist, who has written for publications including the Guardian, Poetry Quarterly, and Unite Magazine. They were one of the awardees of the London Writers’ Awards for Poetry 2018, and have performed their work at venues including the Tate Modern and the Barbican Centre. They are also currently studying at UCL.
Jamie is currently working on curating a showcase of disabled artists titled CRIPtic, and completing their solo show NOT DYING. They developed this in a residency in the Pit Theatre at the Barbican in 2019, and are preparing to tour it in 2019. They are also writing a collection of nature poetry exploring the body, impairment, and disability through writing about the natural landscape.
Much of their work explores the day to day experiences of disability, disablism, and being queer and trans in the world, but they also take inspiration from anything from the Bible and Greek mythology to music and daily life. Whether they are writing opinion pieces on assisted suicide, or sonnets about canals, their work draws on a deep value for human existence.
1. What inspired you to write poetry?
I’ve always written, and at some point I became aware that what I was writing was poetry – and then I kept doing it. I also write prose and essay but my style is heavily influenced by poetry, however I’m writing.
2. Who introduced you to poetry?
I can’t be sure – certainly Sue Hampton (https://www.suehamptonauthor.co.uk/) my primary school teacher was a powerful influence, but I’d enjoyed childrens’ books in rhyme long before that.
3. How aware were you of the dominating presence of older poets?
The older I got, the more aware of them I become. As I find an increasing amount of writing I adore, I realise the scope and presence of these older poets – both alive and dead.
4. What is your daily writing routine?
I generally try and start the day by writing. Recently I’ve fallen into the habit of doing writing-related work and considering it writing, which is a mistake. I’m trying to return to a more disciplined practice, but it’s difficult at the moment.
5. What motivates you to write?
The words inside me want to come out, so I write. It’s a sense that I have no choice but to write them, that they’ll keep rattling round my head until I find them space on the page.
6. What is your work ethic?
I’m pretty focused. I’ve got several creative projects ongoing at the moment, so I have to force myself to get on with them. Luckily I really enjoy the work I’m doing, which helps. It can be hard to put my phone down and make a start, but when I do, the hours rush by
7. How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?
I find it hard to know – I can see the traces that more recent reading leaves, but stuff from longer ago – I’m really not sure. I love the lush writing of some of the Victorian poets, and I think it leaves traces of excess in my work. Similarly, poets like Cardenal, Neruda, Belli – their engagement with nature and the earth-as-body has really influenced the way I write about myself, my body, and nature, while AIDS poets such as Paul Monette have impacted on the brutality of some of my work, the refusal to compromise or give the reader something polished and beautiful.
8. Who of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?
Recently I’ve really enjoyed reading Ilya Kaminsky’s Deaf Republic, Jay Bernard’s Surge, Mona Arshi’s Dear Big Gods, but I’ve tended to interact with poems rather than poets, so it’s hard to say!
9. Why do you write, as opposed to doing anything else?
Because it is by writing that I prove to myself that I exist in the world, writing allows me to process and make sense of experiences I would otherwise really struggle to understand. It lets me leave a mark on the world, and contribute in some small way to changing it.
10. What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”
I would say ‘you write’ – and that writing makes you a writer. If you want to be a published writer specifically, then reading writing, finding work ‘like yours’ and then trying to be published in the same magazines is a sensible step, as is collecting some work together (whether chapbook, pamphlet, zine or collection) and trying to find a publisher. If you want to perform at all, then bringing your work to open mic nights is often a good idea.
11. Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.
I’m finalising my solo show, which is on at the Barbican Centre in London on 11th and 12th October, and I’m trying to get my first poetry collection knocked into shape! I’d love people to come to my show, tickets can be bought from https://barbican.org.uk/whats-on/2019/event/jamie-hale-criptic-pit-party