with Maddi Crease:
Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?
Maddi: This is forever hard to answer! I was always big on story writing, from being sent to the year above to show the teacher my story at age 8, to writing mini books for my sister when she was born.
I guess then that it’s easier to answer for poetry.
I kind of ‘discovered’ poetry at about 16/17. I’d had two short stories published, and the same organisation was advertising a poetry anthology open for subs. I thought I’d give it a go, and wrote my first serious poem, which was accepted.
At a similar time, I was taking my GCSEs (I went back a year in school due to being in and out of mainstream education after prolonged illness). We were studying the love and relationships anthology, and I’m sorry, but… I hated every nearly single poem in that damned thing.Instead of suffering through learning techniques based on these poems, I added study and researched other poets and poems. This made me see that actually, it isn’t all about form (and strangling people with their hair in the name of love… what’s up, Browning?). The very first poem I fell for was Eating Poetry by Mark Strand, which was one of those that I used to get through my GCSEs.
Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?
Maddi: I’d say the Mark Strand poem is still up there, but I’m much more into spoken word now.
Stateside, it’d be Neil Hilborn, Ollie Schminkey, and, when I feel like embracing my indignantly tender side, Blythe Baird.
Over here, I adore Sadie Davidson, who I’ve had the honour to work with.
As for any others, let’s see what the future holds!
Q3: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?
Maddi: Honestly, I’d be lying if I said there was a big realisation. It’s been a long time coming – pretty much a lifetime (so far) in the making.
The last few years have definitely made me see it in a more respectful light though. Respectful to the art and prospects, but also to myself.
As someone who’s also a visual artist and big on striving for positive mental health, I also want to become an art therapist, but one with a big emphasis on written and spoken craft.
Q4: Who has helped you most with writing?
Maddi: It’s gonna sound cringe, but let’s just say it… my family and friends. Whilst they’d happily tell you that they are far from ‘proper’ writers – whatever that means – they have been my heroes in all areas of life. Writing is no exception.
They are my biggest cheerleaders, and forever turning up to poetry nights or listening as I do a first read-through of some new poem or another. I love them endlessly.
Of course, there’s the technical, too. My high school English teacher encouraged me and saw my passion, and I wish I could tell her that now I sometimes get paid to write! As I grew into myself, I took part in Apples and Snakes’ The Writing Room, which gave me a gorgeous network and some super help, so I have to mention them. Then there’s Screen South’s New Creatives, who I worked with recently. I’m waiting on the big release for my commission from them, and they helped me so much, not just in bringing CHAV to life, but also with the greatest advice and best ears in general.
Q5: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing & did any travels away influence your work?
Maddi: I grew up in Essex, South East England. I’ve been in tons of houses, and my little (then undiagnosed) autistic self hated moving home. But you know what? It’s helped me shed so many skins, and grow up in so many ways. There’s been some tough times moving around, but it’s made me see the value in staying present through the madness.
My area certainly isn’t always the nicest place to be, and I’ve definitely moaned off about it from time to time, but I do love my common as hell accent, and sometimes the weird conversations I’ve had with strangers become great writing fodder!
As for trips, I’ve been lucky and have travelled abroad plenty. However, I’m not really one for writing about things like that, so it’s not had any impact on my poetry.
By the way, I’ve moved, on average, just under every other year.
Q6: What do you consider your most meaningful work you’ve done creatively so far to you?
Maddi: Ooh, tough question! I think one of my poems, The Well, is probably my favourite deep poem.
I have a mental illness known as Borderline Personality Disorder / Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder. It’s hard, basically. Everyone thinks I’m a cowbag of a human being until they realise that I’m still a human being, not a typecast. It also means my emotions are all over the shop, which inspired the poem.
The Well is a metaphorical piece which boils down to feeling a lack of control over my emotions, trying to control them, and making them worse. It’s a vicious cycle, and I have to do what people call ‘the work’ every day, but poetry really helps me regulate by processing what’s going on for me in a safe way.
Q7: Favorite activities to relax?
Maddi: Yoga. Reading. Sleep!
Poetry. Poetry. Poetry.
Q8: What is a favorite line/stanza from a poem/writing of yours or others?
‘Why did you ask for this?’
‘Don’t you know we were warm in your pocket?
You threw us, we were cold and now we are colder!’
I guess they are right.
In my pocket I hold the world,
I hold the potential to be full,
So I must too have the potential to be
Water levels steady,
Or, for a more sarcastic approach…
It’s like a stuck CD, or, or, or,
Some shit that’s put a bad song on repeat.
Like reach for the stars,
But this time S-club fucking seven sings
‘Your! Mum is de-aaad!’
Q9: Any recent or forthcoming projects that you’d like to promote?
Maddi: Well I can’t pass up that offer, can I?
Coming soon, CHAV is a commentary on what being working class is to me. It challenges perceptions, defies ignorance, and offers alternatives.
You will soon be able to find it on the BBC New Creatives website, in partnership with Screen South. I wish I had a date for you, but I don’t right now.
For updates, you can reach me as below:
Facebook: Maddi Crease Poet