Poetry Together: Behind the Scenes with our Poets – Fiona and Louisa

By Fiona and Louise

Fiona (41) and her daughter Louisa (9) were among the first entrants to the Poetry Together competition. MCBF thought it would be a great idea to ask them to talk about why they entered and to share with other entrants the challenges and rewards of writing a poem together. They also had some questions of their own for the judges.

We decided to write about a subject that is associated with childhood. We went for the broad theme of fairy tales and talked about all the things associated with that and our poem developed from there. So, our poem developed from a conversation. Louisa wanted it to rhyme – because ‘poems should be catchy and memorable!’

We shared our writing process – we wrote at the same time and shared ideas, which helped with the structure our poem.
I’m an English and Creative writing teacher at A level so I have done lots of writing in the past – I’ve recently taken it up again and started to enter a few competitions – I ran the ‘Poetry By Heart’ recital competition last year and as a result went to Cambridge University and took part in some writing workshops, – it was fabulous and I did some free writing for the first time. I also run creative writing workshops in my local independent bookshop for kids during the school holidays.

Louisa loves writing – she’s writing a book(!) and loves writing poems – the latest one was when her sister gave her 5 words that she had to include in a poem and it resulted in a great poem about a fish that wears a tie! ‘Poetry Together’ is great for me because it stopped me thinking about ‘writing a poem’ as such and just allowed creativity to rule – the mind of a child is fabulous because it’s not constrained by ‘the rules of poetry’ and as a result I think the ideas generated were original because they weren’t hampered by trying to be original – Does that even make sense?

I was surprised at how easy Louisa found it to be creative – she wasn’t constantly second guessing and questioning herself – which was a real lesson for me.

I also think as adults we write about sadness and disappointment quite a lot (or maybe that’s just me!). I find a cheerful poem a challenge – Louisa doesn’t!

We decided to enter after seeing the flyer in The Portico Library and In Louisa’s words because “We enjoy Poetry and we love each other!”

We decided on the title after we had completed the poem.

Louisa would like to ask the judges who inspires them and how old they were when they wrote their first poem?

Martin: I think any poem in which a fish wears a tie would inspire me! In terms of who inspires me, I’d have to say that a lot of the time it’s my own daughter. I’m not sure how old I was when I wrote my first poem, but I was definitely at primary school. I’m pretty sure it was after I saw some parakeets settle in a tree in the playground. I can’t remember if I was in a lesson or not. I probably shouldn’t say this, but they would have been much more interesting to me than what the teacher was saying…

If you have any questions for the judges or would like to share how you wrote your poem, get in touch at Poetrytogether@mmu.ac.uk.

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