We’re excited Sarah L Dixon, the quiet compere, is joining us for our collaboration with SheFest on 7th March. When she put a callout on Facebook offering to do interviews, we thought we’d have a chat with her for our very first Verse Matters interview! We’re certain she’s not the first person to say that their dark humour is a result of working in the NHS, and she has some great advice for anyone whose just starting to write poetry. Join us on 7th March to hear Sarah’s words in person.
What inspires you?
Music, science, being by and in water (especially the sea), light, colour, patterns, fabrics, challenge, change, ale and pubs, walking, my seven-year-old, Frank and the way he thinks.
I love attending workshops as I find I write things I would never have written without being led that way and the way the themes start to circulate around a group unconsciously when you have a half day or day long workshop. The most recent workshops I have been to were Clare Shaw’s at Bronte Parsonage and two at Poetry Swindon run by Daljit Nagra (I ended up with a looping piece about the light through blinds and ending up in a very otherworldly place) and Tania Hershman.
Who are your influences/role models?
Jo Bell and Tony Walsh for having the drive to make stuff happen.
Angela Readman, Joanne Key and Selkirk Ayres for sharing their darknesses.
Ciaran Hodgers and Clare Shaw for being honest and brutal and human and kind.
Young Identity for ground-breaking performances. They floored me with their show last year where two poets read the poems to each other as lovers and then stayed on the stage gazing at each other for the rest of the event.
There are dozens and dozens I will have forgotten here but for now that will do.
What themes do you like to discuss in poetry?
Change, challenge (especially around break-up, moving on, moving area at the moment), transformation, the 90s – music, technology, pace of life, dance and music. The content of my poems is often unintentionally dark, seventeen years in the NHS has given me a slight gallows humour that I don’t even notice most of the time.
Do you enjoy writing in other forms as well?
I have occasionally written in the form of a short story or flash fiction. I am not as confident in these and have only sent one off. I might just do this again today now you have prompted me. My brain does not have the concentration span to write a novel, though I have never tried.
Do you have any collections/poems published in anthologies at the moment?
I have my first book out with Half Moon Books, this is called ‘The sky is cracked’ and a signed copy is available by contacting me through my website here.
I also have a poem in the anthology, ‘Please hear what I am not saying?’ which is raising funds for mental health charities.
What’s your advice for anyone starting out?
People who look like they know what they are doing are still worrying about ‘being found out’. I think if you at least occasionally have this worry you are probably doing it right and thinking it through. You will and should have worries about the quality of your work or where it fits. It doesn’t matter where it fits, write, first of all, for you and not for the audience. The more you write, as long as you seek out feedback from other poets you trust, the better you will get at it. I would say don’t force it and don’t worry if the writing dries up, it will come back eventually.
Thanks for chatting to us Sarah, and thanks for reading. It’s whet our appetite for our next event. See you there!