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Interview with Sarah Perry

Posted on August 1, 2013 at 10:00 AM

Poetical Tv talks Exclusively to Poet, Writer & Activist, Sarah Perry.

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Poetical Tv: Hi Sarah. First question will have to be, when did you start writing poetry?


Sarah: I think I wrote my first poem when I was about 6 and we learnt about rhyming at school. But to be honest growing up I mostly wrote prose and have a whole ton of (pretty awful) short stories and plays from my teens. I wrote poetry a bit, but I only started really loving it in my first year at uni. I was very interested in how prose and poetry related, and a lot of my first (sort of) grown up poems were made out of prose I had written or was reading. I was excited by the musicality of poetry, and the way that language could be both so condensed and so powerful, as well as really surprising. And then gradually this year - living in London as an out of work actor - I started writing seriously and regularly. It completely took over; my first performance was in January and it’s all spiraled from there.


Poetical Tv: And what sort of & how much of an impact has poetry & being a poet had on your life?


Sarah: For a start it’s been a lot of fun! The poetry community is very generous and open and it’s been such a privilege to have met so many warm, switched on people and be sharing in it a bit. Lots of the poets I’ve met have also been activists and spending time listening to their views has made me question and sharpen my own and that’s exciting. Day to day the pace of my life has changed because I used to be an actor, where pursuing work can be quite relentless. As a poet there’s a lot of time to sit and reflect, and writing about what’s happening around you keeps your own life in perspective.


I’ve also learnt a lot about hip hop, which I think a lot of people come to poetry through, but for me it was the other way round.


Even to say ‘I’m a poet’ is a huge change, and one I have only just felt able to own; it was really scary at first putting myself and my work out there. Overall, I feel very lucky and very grateful.



Poetical Tv: What would you say have been your biggest influences on both a personal and creative level?


Sarah: Everything? I don’t know, it’s really hard to answer that because I’m always learning. I write a lot about what I read in the news or the people in my life. Sometimes you’ll be in a place and just suddenly write something. I’m really interested in nature and science too, and I’ve always loved reading so there are a whole host of phenomenal authors and poets whose voices I’ve absorbed over the years. Artists and theatre practitioners too. I actually quote Auden and Denise Riley in one of my poems and Pinter in another, but they’re just three of many. And also - obviously - other poets I meet. You’ll go to a gig and you’ll hear someone who just smashes out their words to another level and you’re reminded again how much you have to learn and it’s so exciting.


Poetical Tv: What poem that have you have written, would you say is the closest to your heart and why is it so personal to you?


Sarah: I think all my poems are personal and I try to be as honest as I can. Writing and acting will always be connected for me in that I think - at their best - they’re both just trying to tell the truth. So I don’t know... in the moments I write them they’ll be closest to my heart and from then on they’re moments left over. At the same time some of my most personal are probably also the worst written: all the stuff about heartbreak! They’ll feel very valid at the time but I wouldn’t ever perform them. I think for me, my best stuff has maybe been when I’ve been able to take a step back from my feelings and be honest not just about what they are, but their implications.



Poetical Tv: And Is there anywhere in particular that you enjoy writing poetry most?


Sarah: I often write on trains or the tube, although that makes it sound like I go on journeys specifically to write but it isn’t like I’ll go sit on a train all day. Maybe I should; I could just ride round and round on the circle line. I love working at the Southbank Centre and quite often go up to the terrace to sit outside with a table. Also there’s a cafe in Brighton I write prose in.


Poetical Tv: What is performing your poetry in front of an audience like for you?

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Sarah: Terrifying! I’m always really scared even if I’m just doing one poem at an open mic night. But it’s also good to open up that conversation about your work, and feel how an audience responds.

Poetical Tv: And is there anything particularly that you would like to achieve with your poetry?


Sarah: For now I just want to keep listening and learning. I’m still very young with this and have a lot to learn before I can start thinking about what’s next. I have done a few workshops in schools though, and getting children reading and writing poetry was ace; that’s something I’d like to keep doing with it for now. And sort of changing the perception of what poetry is with kids who think it might be stuffy or uncool. But there are so many poets doing that amazingly already. It’s an exciting time.


Poetical Tv: Is there anything else about you that you would like the world to know about you, absolutely anything?


Sarah: That’s like that awful thing where you have to go round in a circle and say a fun fact about yourself! Mine is always that I’m scared of fish but I’ve pretty much got over that this year so I need a new one. Maybe that I fall over a lot.


Poetical Tv: Thank you very much for sharing that. Last question, how can people find out more about you and interact with you online?


Sarah: Tweet me @sarahperrypoet or check out my website www.sarahperrypoet.com where there’s an email contact form. I have a youtube channel too www.youtube.com/sarahperrypoet. Or just come and say hi. I’ll be the one falling over on the circle line.


Poetical Tv: Thank you very much Sarah.



(*Interview by @ThePoetSinclair Exclusively for PoeticalTv*)

© 2013 PoeticalTv. All Rights Reserved.


Categories: Interviews, Poetry

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