with Annest Gwilym:
Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?
Annest: I started writing as a teenager, mainly keeping diaries and writing poetry. My first poem to be published was at age 15, in a local magazine, one of only two chosen from my school. My first influences were Ted Hughes, Seamus Heaney, R.S. Thomas and the Welsh poets R. Williams Parry and Hedd Wyn. I was also a big fan of the Romantics, especially Keats and Wordsworth.
Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?
Annest: A difficult question, since there are so many! But I would have to include Helen Dunmore, Linda France, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton and Mary Oliver.
Q3: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing? Have any travels away from home influence your work/describe?
I am originally from the Llŷn peninsula, in NW Wales, in the United Kingdom. However, because of my father’s job, we moved house a lot, mainly across North Wales. We also lived in the Midlands city of Worcester for around five years. I think the experience of always being the ‘new girl’ at school, with a different accent, often bullied because of this, created a sense of alienation in me that I still carry today. I lived in Italy for a year (in Florence) – half of my degree was in Italian. My exposure to Italian – language, literature and culture have also influenced my writing.
Q4: What do you consider the most meaningful work you’ve done creatively so far?
Annest: Probably my book What the Owl Taught Me. Loosely based on a bestiary, I used it to validate beasts that are commonly deemed pests, because of our human-centric view of the world, and to show that they also have intricate, valuable lives, and deserve to live. It also includes a few poems that share concerns about loss of species due to negative human interaction, and environmental issues. “What The Owl Taught Me” by Annest Gwilym a poetry book review by Mashaal Sajid
Q5: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a poet/writer?
Annest: When I began to enjoy poetry as a teenager, I started dabbling, although these early attempts were mainly about teenage angst!
Q6: Favorite activities to relax?
Annest: When not writing, I am usually reading, walking, or making jewellery. I have a small jewellery shop on Etsy called NineMusesJewellery
Q7: Any recent or forthcoming projects you’d like to promote?
Annest: Just a link to my collection What the Owl Taught Me. My first book – Surfacing – can also be found there.
https://sites.google.com/a/lapwingpublications.com/lapwing-store/home Lapwing Publications
Q8: What is one of your favourite lines from a poem/writing of yours or others?
‘Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.’
Mary Oliver, Wild Geese.
Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?
Annest: Links below