This week’s poetry advice blog comes from Katrina Naomi author of The Way the Crocodile Taught Me. Katrina is a poet, tutor, critic, mentor and translator who lives in Cornwall. Her poetry has appeared on Radio 4’s Front Row and Poetry Please, BBC TV’s Spotlight and is currently included in London’s Poems on the Underground. Her next collection is forthcoming in 2020.
The Way the Crocodile Taught Me, is a vibrant, heartfelt and tragi-comic collection of poetry. With warmth, flair and a certain ferocious wit, Naomi tears into her subject matter: a childhood fraught with family dislocation, upsets and even occasional violence, and finds, through her art, moments of grace, humour and redemption. It will delight people who know Naomi’s work and undoubtedly win new fans for her courageous and unabashedly entertaining poems.
What first drew you to poetry?
I came to poetry by mistake. I was trying to write about something I really cared about and found that I’d written a poem.
Where do you look to for inspiration?
Art, walking, film and other poets.
What poets or writers inspire you?
There’s so many! One poet who always inspires me is Peter Redgrove.
How do you balance writing poetry with working? If you write full time, what made you decide to do so?
I do write full time, I found that when I was working in my former human rights job, that I was spending longer and longer lunch breaks writing poems. Something had to give. I thought I’d take voluntary redundancy and see if I could get anywhere with my poetry. That year I won a poetry competition and was published soon afterwards. So I’ve kept going.
How do you prepare yourself before sitting down to write?
I usually read another poetry collection for about 20 minutes, or I copy out a poem that I really admire. This gets me to slow down and really look and think.
What methods do you use to overcome feeling disheartened or to keep positive?
I talk to my partner or close friends when I’ve had a disappointment. Also, I often write about the disappointment and see if I can turn it into some other beast. That helps!
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