21 March 2021
Posted by Megan Laing
The 21st of March 2021 is the day the world celebrates the power of poetry.
If I were to summarise the Poetry Ambassadors programme, I would say that it’s main focus is development. Over the course of the programme so far, I’ve been extremely intrigued by and grateful to see the progress that the mentees Eve Wright, April Egan and Kaycee Hill have made as young poets. However, the developmental purpose of the programme doesn’t stop there as it has also been beneficial for me to see the inner workings of the programme, both the creative and the administrative side of the arts and writing industries through the involvement with Winchester Poetry Festival. This opportunity to perform and see their work in print is highly motivating for the mentees, and gives an added sense of impetus to the mentoring process.
In particular, what I’ve found very interesting is the topic of style and the process that any young person (such as myself and the mentees) undergoes to find their own voice.
My own writing journey is dual-sided, I’d say. I spent my younger years writing stories on borrowed laptops, then novels on my own with the occasional side-step into poetry and short stories. Then, when I started university, I started content writing for various publications primarily student life. I had never considered what the effect of practicing content writing would have on my own creative writing until someone in one of my classes mentioned that, at some points in a short story I’d been writing, there were sudden shifts from poetic to formal language. Was my artist voice being hijacked without me realising? And perhaps, more importantly, was I confident in my ability to write consistently with that creative voice?
From the interviews I conducted with Eve, April and Kaycee, I was surprised to find that they all found similar links between confidence and the development of their writing style. Eve suggested that maybe confidence was the key to finishing a piece of their work, with Kaycee also implying that the isolation of multiple lockdowns can result in bouts of imposter syndrome as well.
One thing that became apparent from the interviews was this: confidence can sometimes come from other people, which is why the validation of an experienced poet and mentor is so valuable.
Much like Eve, April and Kaycee, writing for me always seemed quite isolated. So, through connecting with their mentors and seeing this wider world of writing in full swing through the Poetry Ambassadors programme, the world of poetry and writing seems a lot more expansive. April commented that the mentoring and sharing her writing was the push she needed, and how - following her first meeting - she was inspired to join various different writing group chats and discussion boards.
I’ve also had the opportunity to explore my own voice and style through working closely with ArtfulScribe as well. Not only through blog writing, but also through drafting a press launch, question writing and selecting which parts of the interviews would make good tweets. I’m curious to see how writing for different forms and audiences will inform my next steps in terms of my own creative writing, in addition to being exposed to poetry through the mentees, mentors and proximity to Winchester Poetry Festival.