Yasmine and I are sat in the yard
with its gates like painted toothpicks
I flick my broken lighter against the wind
hands shaking from three cigarettes in row
thumb stained blow-torch black,
hoping Wheelchair Guy doesn’t wheel by
Do you want to buy me a Subway?
my freebie matches got drenched in a storm
catching as I wiggle one to break it off
like twisting out a wobbly tooth
on my bedroom floor
tasting salt on my fingertips
Our compound I say
our laughter echoes through the space
our place in this city marked when she turns to me
says beggars literally can’t be choosers
her accent is like ice-cubes
mine is frosting on the tip of my tongue
sticking my words behind my teeth
Seven Questions with an Eighth
In this series Ink Sweat & Tears talks to practicing writers about their process.
1. Where do you write? (do you have an office, room, bus journey that you find yourself and your writing?)
I have a slightly strange habit of writing while I’m travelling, mainly because it’s one of the few times I get the space to just think. I’ll often start making ideas while on long journeys and then shape them into poems when I get home. When writing at home I usually write late at night in bed, again because I really like the space you get when everyone else is asleep.
2. How do you write? (into a notebook or straight onto a computer?)
I usually begin with ideas written into my notebook that I try to take everywhere or just into Notes on my phone. Then when I get home I type them up.
3. Roughly how much time do you spend each week on creative writing related activities?(writing, editing, correspondence & submissions)
I spend a lot of my time being creative, whether that is writing, drawing or work-shopping. I’m always on the look out for ideas and once I actually get into the act of shaping and writing these I usually spend a solid evening or day, usually about once a week. Once I start I’m not great at stopping though!
4. What time of day do you usually write?
As I mentioned I’m fairly nocturnal in my writing habits. I tend to stew over things all day and then my ideas always seem to crystallize just when I’m about to go to bed.
5. What does it feel like to write?
It’s a really great feeling; there’s a sort of simultaneous release of thought and a containment of that thought which, until writing, was fluctuating and expansive. I really enjoy the crafting of the poem, building a structure can have a really satisfyingly mechanical feel. I always feel a little sad when I decide that a poem is finished, almost like when you finish reading a book, like there’s so much more around the story that you’d love to hear or tell.
6. Are there any stimuli that will usually trigger you into writing?
I really love people watching and fairly often see little moments between people that trigger things in some way, some memory or thought about how people treat each other. I am also constantly inspired by what I’m reading and the culture I immerse myself in.
7. What are you working on now?
I have just finished MA dissertation, which was attempting to experiment with and deconstruct Millennials’ ways of interpreting our experiences through language and media. My MA gave me a really invaluable space to work on such an expansive project.
And as you are a recipient of the Ink Sweat & Tears Poetry Writing Scholarship, we thought we’d add an eighth…
8. How has the scholarship affected your writing?
The scholarship has had a hugely positive affect on writing. It allowed me to do the MA full-time rather than part-time, which meant I could immerse myself more fully with every aspect of it. I’ve always been fairly insecure or shy about my own work and being awarded this scholarship gave me a confidence boost which led to me sharing more of my work with my peers and feeling more sure of any creative decisions I make. It also gave me a chance to meet and socialise with some really inspiring people, both other Scholarship holders and my lovely donor.
For details of UEA’s Ink Sweat & Tears Poetry Writing Scholarship established by IS&T’s Kate Birch please go here.