How I Did It

How I Did It: Forward First Collection Special – Ocean Vuong on ‘Seventh Circle of Earth’

The Poetry School asked the five poets shortlisted for this year’s Forward Prize for Best First Collection to write about the process behind their award-nominated work. Over the weeks leading up to the award ceremony on 21st September, we’ve published ‘How I Did It’ articles by Maria Apichella, Nick Makoha, Eric Langley, and Richard Georges. In this final instalment, on the day of…

Read More

How I Did It: Forward First Collection Special: Richard Georges on ‘Griot’

We’ve asked the five poets shortlisted for this year’s Forward Prize for Best First Collection to write about the process behind their award-nominated work. Over the weeks leading up to the award ceremony on 21st September, look out for ‘How I Did It’ articles from Maria Apichella, Nick Makoha, Eric Langley, Richard Georges and Ocean Vuong. This week, Richard Georges discusses…

Read More

How I Did It: Forward First Collection Special – Eric Langley on ‘Glanced’

We’ve asked the five poets shortlisted for this year’s Forward Prize for Best First Collection to write about the process behind their award-nominated work. Over the weeks leading up to the award ceremony on 21st September, look out for ‘How I Did It’ articles from Maria Apichella, Nick Makoha, Richard Georges and Ocean Vuong. This week, Eric Langley discusses his…

Read More

How I Did It: Forward First Collection Special – Nick Makoha on ‘Kingdom of Gravity’

We’ve asked the five poets shortlisted for this year’s Forward Prize for Best First Collection to write about the process behind their award-nominated work. Over the weeks leading up to the award ceremony on 21st September, look out for ‘How I Did It’ articles from Maria Apichella, Richard Georges, Eric Langley and Ocean Vuong. But this week it’s Nick…

Read More

How I Did It: Forward First Collection Special – Maria Apichella on ‘Psalmody’

As is Poetry School tradition, we’ve asked the five poets shortlisted for this year’s Forward Prize for Best First Collection to write about the process behind their award-nominated work. Over the weeks leading up to the award ceremony on 21st September, look out for ‘How I Did It’ articles from Nick Makoha, Richard Georges, Eric…

Read More

How I Did It: Eric Gregory Award Special – Daisy Lafarge on ‘understudies for air’

Welcome to the final instalment of our Eric Gregory Award 2017 ‘How I Did It’ series. We asked the winners of this year’s awards to explain the process their award-winning poems. Last up is Daisy Lafarge talking about her pamphlet, understudies for air – published August 2017. The Eric Gregory Awards 2018 will open for…

Read More

How I Did It: Eric Gregory Award Special – Rachael Allen on ‘Many Bird Roast’

Welcome to this ‘How I Did It’ series featuring the winners of the Eric Gregory Award 2017. We’ve asked each excellent young poet to explain the process behind their award-winning writing. Here, Rachael Allen talks about one of the recurring themes in her work. The Eric Gregory Awards 2018 will be open for entries in…

Read More

How I Did It: Eric Gregory Award Special – Mark Pajak on ‘Spitting Distance’

Welcome to the second instalment of our Eric Gregory Award 2017 ‘How I Did It’ series. We asked the winners of this year’s awards to explain the process their award-winning poems. Here, Mark Pajak talks about the hard work that went into his pamphlet, Spitting Distance. The Eric Gregory Awards 2018 will open for entries…

Read More

How I Did It – Eric Gregory Award Special: Richard O’Brien on ‘4 Rue Sarrazin’

Welcome to the first instalment of our Eric Gregory Award 2017 ‘How I Did It’ series. We asked the winners of this year’s awards to explain the process behind one of their award-winning poems. First up, Richard O’Brien writes about ‘4 Rue Sarrazin’. The Eric Gregory Awards 2018 will open for entries in September.   …

Read More

How I Did It – Primers Volume Two: Marvin Thompson on ‘What are your thoughts on comedians using the N word?’

What are your thoughts on comedians using the N word? from ‘An Interview with Comedy Genius Olivier Welsh’ There’s a documentary with only nine views that explains how the N-word spawned from a need to dehumanise people of a dark hue so cotton profits would feel less like greed or sin. The word’s history is…

Read More

How I Did It – Primers Volume Two: Ben Bransfield on ‘And to this day’

And to this day there’s a well down those woods that feeds off tales of stay aways. By nine our heads were knitted with them: fireside legends, the edges of seats. Chewing our nails, twisting our hair, we’d conker scout the outer trees but soon slip deeper to a cooler place, that well of stone….

Read More

How I Did It – Primers Volume Two: Cynthia Miller on ‘Yellow’

At the Verve Poetry Festival headline on Saturday, Helen Mort, Kayo Chingonyi and Sarah Howe were on a panel discussing their poetry and themes of home and belonging. Sarah remarked that “poetry gave her a background”. I remember being in the audience and having an almost visceral reaction to that comment, with my whole body…

Read More

How I Did It – Ted Hughes Award: Salena Godden on ‘LIVEwire’

In the fifth instalment of our Ted Hughes Award ‘How I Did It’ series, Salena Godden explains the creative process behind ‘Can’t Be Bovvered’‘ from her shortlisted work LIVEwire. ‘LIVEwire‘ marks Salena Godden’s first album in nearly a decade, and is a compilation of live and studio recordings, archives and brand new work. It features live material from…

Read More

How I Did It – Ted Hughes Award: Caroline Smith on The Immigration Handbook

In the fourth instalment of our Ted Hughes Award ‘How I Did It’ series, Caroline Smith explains the creative process behind ‘The Scarlet Lizard’ from her shortlisted work The Immigration Handbook. Caroline Smith’s The Immigration Handbook is the fruit of her career as an Immigration Caseworker for one of the most diverse inner-city areas in London. Immigrants’ dramatic emotions,…

Read More

How I Did It – Ted Hughes Award: Jay Bernard on ‘The Red and Yellow Nothing’

In the next instalment of our Ted Hughes Award ‘How I Did It’ series, Jay Bernard explains the many inspirations behind their shortlisted pamphlet, The Red and Yellow Nothing, published by Ink, Sweat & Tears Press.  The Red and Yellow Nothing is written as a prequel to the Arthurian tale of Sir Morien – a young knight described as…

Read More

How I Did It – Ted Hughes Award: Will Eaves on ‘The Inevitable Gift Shop’

In the second instalment of our Ted Hughes Award ‘How I Did It’ series, Will Eaves explains the creative process behind ‘The Lord Is Listenin’ To Ya, Hallelujah’ from his shortlisted work The Inevitable Gift Shop. A memoir by other means, The Inevitable Gift Shop lassoes consciousness, memory, desire, literature, illness, flora and fauna, problems with tortoises…

Read More

How I Did It – Ted Hughes Award: Harry Man on ‘Finders Keepers’

In this first instalment of our Ted Hughes Award ‘How I Did It’ series, Harry Man explains the creative process behind his shortlisted work, Finders Keepers, created in collaboration with illustrator Sophie Gainsley.  Finders Keepers is a collaboration between poet Harry Man and artist and illustrator Sophie Gainsley that examines Britain’s vanishing wildlife. Poems from the project…

Read More

How I Did It – Michael Marks Edition – Richard Scott on ‘cover-boys’

If I am honest, I don’t really know how I did it, wrote cover-boys that is; but there’s something powerful about acknowledging the underlying mystery of poetry right from the get-go, what Whitman calls the ‘unseen hand’; that despite how much you learn and craft there is a subconscious ticking away beneath all the work…

Read More

How I Did It – Michael Marks Edition: Polly Clark ‘Tiger, Tiger’

‘Tiger, Tiger’ from my pamphlet A Handbook for the Afterlife is my longest and perhaps most ambitious poem, abandoning the strict notions I held of what a poem is or can be. For a long time it was in my head rather than on the page as a draft because the idea of it –…

Read More

How I Did It – Michael Marks Edition: Lizzi Thistlethwayte ‘lovesong’

I am aware of an emotional landscape rooted within a geographical one that may bear no outward resemblance to a particular place; merely that there are echoes, reference points. I recognize something. I know I need to pin it down. By ‘pinning it down’ I mean trying to understand by exploring different ways of ‘seeing’;…

Read More

How I Did It: Michael Marks Edition: Fiona Moore ‘Sleep Sonnet’

SLEEP SONNET I last touched the world of sleep at     midday when sun shone through and through a train and the woman     opposite was painting her nails an ocean of deep red     stations trailed unreal names jolted words away from language     upholstered in grey/blue now through night without corridors     or sleep or stars my mind…

Read More

How I Did It – Michael Marks Edition – ‘Anne Whittle (alias Chattox)’

“Wigged w/ cirrus”, “I shall be in a woman’s likeness…” and “LISTEN”: these are among the first notes I put toward the Malkin sequence, scribbling with sudden enthusiasm on a train from Lancaster to Cambridge back in June 2014 (the muses, as has been well-documented, often take the train). The Pendle Witches had fascinated me…

Read More

“We-Poetics” – How I Did It: ‘Body Logic’

Because first of all, it’s not just I. Even in poetry, even the lonely writing on a lined pad or keypad. Even that has its communal moments. No one does anything on one’s own. And that goes for writing, too. When I read a book of poems that move me, I know I am moved…

Read More

How I Did It: Poem in Which…

In darker periods, I spend far too many hours Wikipedia-hopping: clicking from link to link and half-learning all sorts of extraordinary things. I find Wikipedia a real horde of things to write about and poems to find. My favourite articles are the list pages, and the best of these (and a good portal to further…

Read More

How I Did It: ‘Interlude’

This poem was the first poem I tried to write after a period of about three years during which I didn’t write at all. During this time, I was making some significant discoveries about my family, my mother and myself, unpicking the deep legacies of intergenerational trauma. One day, after work, I took myself to…

Read More