with Sue Finch:
Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?
Sue: I loved writing poetry at Primary School and have this wonderful memory of being selected to read a poem I had written at a Harvest Festival. My Mum and my Nan were in the audience and I loved the fact there was a lectern and I was reading. I can’t be one hundred percent sure, but I think we were just sort of given a subject and asked to write about it rather than study a poet or poem first! I did more reading of poetry than writing at secondary school, but loved the way I was taught to read poetry closely and the way my teachers seemed to know so much about it. When I went to Teacher Training College there was an opportunity to study Creative Writing alongside the Teaching degree and that’s when I realised how much I loved writing my own stuff.
Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?
Sue: I have five poets that I revisit regularly because I particularly admire their work: Caroline Bird, Vicki Feaver, Selima Hill, Andrew McMillan and Pascale Petit. I love the way they each craft their work and find it inspiring to go back into their books and remind myself what their writing does.
Q3: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your work? Have any travels away from home influence your work/describe?
Sue: I grew up in a small coastal town in Kent, England. Walking by the sea was something I could do every day if I wished and I loved that feeling of being by water that was constantly moving and changing. Quiet times by the water seem to spirit me away, but connect me to myself and I feel peaceful and real. I am not really a traveller, but when I am travelling alone I view the time on the journey as thinking time and time alone in a hotel room as perfect reading and writing time so I tend to take one poetry book to read and write down a line or 2 during the trip to develop when I get back home. That’s how I wrote ‘Dropping Your Baby’ after seeing a toy doll face down in a muddy puddle on the roundabout.
Q4: What do you consider your most meaningful work you’ve done creatively so far?
Sue: My debut collection tracks my journey from childhood to adulthood and I felt I needed to do this as a way of setting down my life up to the present time, i.e., the time of its publication in 2020. This felt freeing to me in that it captured a view of a whole journey. It also proved cathartic in that I now view things through a different lens and it enabled me to go to some of the darker or more surreal places in my poetry.
Q5: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a poet/writer?
Sue: This question makes me think of the times at college when I would be sitting in our shared lounge and my flatmates would laugh at how long I could spend writing whilst listening to Leonard Cohen and checking my syllable count by tapping my nose with my fingers! I think I wanted to be a poet then, but it took me some years before I recognised just how important it was to me to write and set time aside for just that.
Q6: Favorite activities to relax?
Sue: I like to paint abstract acrylic works and sometimes I like to cook or bake. Reading always relaxes me and I love the feeling of being totally immersed in a book. When Jodi Picoult releases a new book I buy it as soon as I can and spread it out over 2 days because I want to read it all at speed, but I also love the anticipation of going back into it on day 2.
Q7: Any recent or forthcoming projects you’d like to promote?
Sue: I am proud of my debut collection, ‘Magnifying Glass’, published by Black Eyes Publishing UK which is avaiIable to order via bookshops or that large company that sends things out rapidly. I also record poems for my YouTube Channel – I started this because I wanted to read my poems out loud and then it became important to me during Lockdown as a way of sharing work regularly with those I couldn’t see in person. https://amzn.to/2VfMUFg
Q8: What is one of your favorite lines from your poetry or others?
Here are the first three lines from ‘Flamingo’: “The night she bent my elbows/to fit the candy floss cardigan/for the twenty-third time, my limbs turned to wings.”
Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?
I have been incredibly fortunate to have met some wonderful people whilst on my poetry journey: Georgi Gill and Audrey McIlvain via my MA with Manchester Metropolitan University; Anna Saunders, Josephine Lay, Ankh Spice, Catrice Greer and Damien Donnelly via Cheltenham Poetry Festival; Helen Ivory via ‘Ink, Sweat and Tears’. I love poetry workshops and have been much inspired by Kim Addonizio, Caroline Bird, Liz Berry, Pascale Petit and Jean Sprackland. I love the connections I have made on Twitter with poets and I tweet as @soopoftheday. And in my house my wonderful wife who will always come to ‘Poetry Corner’ when I want to read a poem to her. And my sister and my Mum who never seem to mind me ringing them to try out a poem or ask their opinions. I loved asking my brother if I could include a poem about him burning ants with a magnifying glass in my collection and the fact that his scientific knowledge led to my first ever published poem!