Paper Spider *
In 2015 and a year after I graduated from Liverpool John Moores University I won my first poetry competition. It was nothing fancy, one of those free online competitions where amateur poets from around the world entered, the platform was called Poetry Pulse. The person behind my success was Andrew McMillan, a contemporary British Poet who now teaches at Manchester Metropolitan University.
The more poetry you read, the more you become poetry...
In my final year at LJMU Andrew was my tutor for poetry, one afternoon I stayed behind to film him for my documentary Published. A collection of interviews with writers from all over the country and from different writing disciplines, Nick Cohen - writer and director of 90s TV programme Doctors, Niall Griffiths - Author of A Great Big Shining Star and a novelist from Aberystwyth, Jeff Young - Screenwriter on EastEnders, Playwright, Poet and all around bad ass, the list of names stretched on and on and Published was probably my first thoughts of some form of WriteSeen... bringing reputable creatives to screen and unravelling their styles to find commonalities.
So after Andrew's interview was done, I'm packing my camera away and I just come out with it "so how do I get better at poetry?". He took in the question and thought about it for a moment, then responded in his proud Barnsley accent “the more poetry you read, the more you kind of become poetry” and then he just smiled. It made complete sense and that statement has never left me. The term 'all great writers are great readers' is true. to produce your art you must first consume it.
Around this time Andrew was offering out copies of his pamphlet 'Physical' which would go onto be published by Jonathan Cape a year later and become the first poetry collection to win the Guardian First Book Award. I remember reading it on the train back from Liverpool to Birmingham one weekend and being surprised by the lack of punctuation. Instead, his poems were structured in space and with line breaks in place of commas. Andrew's master strokes continuously evolved my perception of poetry and was the source for inspiring my humble prize-winning poem Paper Spider.