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
Bio: Author of two books of poetry: Surfacing (2018) and What the Owl Taught Me (2020), both published by Lapwing Poetry. Annest has been published in various literary journals and anthologies, both online and in print. She has been placed in writing competitions, winning one. She lives on the coast of north west Wales with her rescue dog.