They were lonely, difficult years as I navigated adolescence and the pressures of school and exams but in this after-hours poetry community I felt I belonged. I was a regular correspondent and some of my poems even made it onto the airwaves. I cringe to think how awful they were. But being prompted to write and having a platform on national radio to share my efforts was motivating. It developed my creative skills and built confidence as I headed towards taking a degree in English and Creative Writing.
In my new podcast Poetry Non-Stop (and its predecessor Headstand) I have tried to create the same community. Each episode is an interview with a poet and showcase of their work but I also ask each guest to give listeners a writing exercise or prompt. So far I am the only one who has responded to these but I hope anyone who listens tries them as well.
I have found the experience of writing to these prompts challenging and unexpected as I have been led to write a variety of poems that I would never have written otherwise. A prompt on borders and intimacy led me to write about a library which lies on the US-Canada border that I heard about on This American Life. A recipe for roast goose randomly picked from a Hungarian cookbook formed the basis of a vignette about a repressed housewife and an exercise to write about life experiences using metaphor prompted me to use a news story about rescued flamingoes to explore feelings of isolation and struggling to fit in.
Birds kept coming up in the poems for some reason. Having noticed this I neither tried to avoid writing about them or include them but each time I finished a poem I realised another bird had found its way in somehow.
The podcast is going out each Thursday via Soundcloud and the usual podcast providers for an initial run of six episodes but more are in the pipeline. I have been lucky to talk to some really brilliant and accomplished poets who have been very generous with their time and in sharing their poetry. But getting a wider network of listeners taking inspiration from these talented writers and sharing their own poems is an equally important aim for this project. Whether you are a seasoned poet or have never written poetry before I encourage you to tune in, enjoy the poems and then pick up your pen and do your homework!
Poems can be submitted via email, posted on the website or shared on social media using the hashtag #poetrynonstop.