with Anneka Chambers:
Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?
Anneka: I am an 80’s baby raised in the 90’s, so I grew up in an era where books heavily fed my knowledge and the internet was completely inaccessible. I had a beloved thick brown book of Victorian nursery rhymes with traditional, mosaic illustrations. I immersed in this book time and time again, because I loved the musicality and use of ‘old English’ Language. My mum gifted me a set of Child Craft Encyclopedias around the age of 6 and of my most cherished was Volume 1: Stories and Poems. Again, I connected to the rhythm, form and flair of the poems. These two books were my very first influences and as a young child, I’d often make cards with little poetic messages written inside.
Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?
Anneka: My two favourite social poets right now are Blake Auden and John Mark Green. Their ability to craft micro poems that questions, solves and/or validates in such a ‘gutsy’ manner, is really appealing to me. Blake in particular, has a unique way in delivering his poetry and engaging with his followers; he uses his platform very creatively. I am still moved by past poets such as William Wordsworth and of course the beautiful delight that was Louise Bennett-Coverley.
Q3: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing/art?
Anneka: I was born and raised in London England by my mother, who is of Jamaican heritage. Her cultural values were instilled in me from a young age, and even though we lived in a predominantly White British area, I always had a strong sense of my cultural identity. However in terms of books, the media and the arts, there was very little Afro-Caribbean representation at the time. English poets such as William Shakespeare, Geoffrey Chaucer and Ursula Fanthorpe formed much of the English Literature curriculum in Secondary education. Therefore, these poets would have had an impact on my writing at the time.
Q4: Have any travels away from home influence your work?
Anneka: As a child I often travelled to Jamaica with my mum, to spend time with my great grandfather. He lived in the countryside of Jamaica which was so different to my life in East London. My fondest memories of my childhood are largely the times we spent in Jamaica and most recently, I have started to write poetry about these precious moments.
Q5: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer/poet?
Anneka: 2020 was a very challenging year for many in regards to the Covid 19 Pandemic and social and political responses to racism, following the killing of George Floyd. It was at this point in May 2020 that I was riddled with emotions, having watched the scenes of George Floyd’s public murder. The only way to express and release my feelings was to write poetry. ‘N I N E’ was therefore one of the first poems I wrote, after years of poetry laying asleep within me.
Aside from Covid 19, 2020 also brought about an unexpected personal challenge that really changed the direction of my life. In order to help manage the changes, writing poetry has really been my solace and it feels as though I have returned home to the comfort of my true source.
Q6: Favourite activities to relax?
Anneka: I’m an Aquarian and true to my nature and spirit, I love to learn and experience different things. When time allows, I will happily sit and make beaded jewellery or get my sewing machine out. I really have a keen interest in beauty and learnt the art of Ayurvedic Anti-Aging Facial Massage a few years ago. Give me a day or weekend at the Spa and i’m a happy girl!
Simple things like taking pictures of nature or architecture whilst in the city, or green spaces really gives me joy. I try to take walks as a means of keeping my mind in the present moment. More recently I’ve been doing meditation which has helped me to relax and take a moment out for myself.
Q7: Any recent or forthcoming projects that you’d like to promote?
Anneka: I started to submit my work to poetry magazines back in December 2020. Since then, I have been blessed to be in a number of publications including: Southbank Poetry, Isa Magazine, Brave Voices, Superfroots Magazine, Vine Leaves Press, Dwelling Literary, Poetry and Covid, The Skinny Poetry Journal and the lovely Fevers of the Mind.
Moving forward, I would love to reach the highs of winning renowned poetry competitions and writing books with my poetry collections.
I publish some of my poetry on my Instagram page @22poetrystreet. Readers can also find me on Twitter @annekachambers. I love to engage with many people so please stop by!
Q8: What is a favorite line/stanza from a poem of yours or others?
Anneka: I wrote a short poem entitled ‘Couture’ that speaks of us removing negative weight we carry and showing the world our authentic selves. A line that I love is: “Close Pockets of Doubt, Extend the Hem of Freedom”. Unbutton Fear Unzip Worry Close Pockets of Doubt Extend the Hem of Freedom Remove the Label Replace it with your Name Step Out Show the World The New You. Q9: Who has helped you most with writing? Anneka: I have to say, since joining Twitter I have had a really warm embrace from the poetry community who I largely follow. It has been a pleasure to read and learn from the vast array of poetry magazines, their editors and view the works of established and emerging poets, all of whom have helped me to navigate the poetry scene and improve my writing. I have also engaged in online poetry classes and workshops which have been invaluable to me. From my first course on ‘How to Submit to Poetry Magazines’ run by poet Katherine Lockton through CityLit, to my most recent workshop by poet Malika Booker (July 21), entitled ‘Apart Together’ which was so informative and run through The Poetry Business. To be in a space with other poets, to read and take heed of the knowledge shared by others, has really helped me with my writing journey as a whole. Bio: Anneka Chambers (she/her) is a Black British Born Londoner. She is a Poet & Social Justice advocate, currently campaigning for the rights of the Windrush Generation in the UK. Anneka’s poetry can be found in South Bank Poetry Magazine, Isa Magazine, Brave Voices and Dwelling Literary amongst forthcoming publications. Insta: @22poetrystreet Twitter: @annekachambers #stopthehate challenge by Anneka Chambers : NINE Poem by Anneka Chambers : Play On https://bravevoicesmagazine.org/2021/04/02/a-poem-by-anneka-chambers/ https://theskinnypoetryjournal.wordpress.com/2021/07/08/principles-drowned-by-anneka-chambers/ https://ne-np.facebook.com/isamagazinee/posts/253635463050361