My second poet under ‘seven questions’ interrogation is Jill Abram. Jill is widely published in the magazines and is both the Director of Malika’s Poetry Kitchen – a collective of writers who focus on craft, community and development – and a Tideway Poet. She’s really active on the poetry scene, especially around London – not only in giving readings and staging events, but supporting others too. I’ve met her at various places including Richard Skinner’s Vanguard Readings and Anne-Marie Fyfe’s Troubadour nights. Here are Jill’s answers…
1 – What was the last poetry book you read, that you would recommend?
The Immigration Handbook by Caroline Smith (Seren) – I’m still reading it as the poems are so powerful, you have to take them in small doses and savour each one.
2 – Philip Larkin and Dannie Abse are both alleged to have said they only wrote one or two decent poems a year. How is it for you?
Well, I think that everything that I write is a work of genius but others may beg to differ. I’d like to think I write more than one or two decent poems a year, but I can’t present evidence that anyone else thinks so too…
3 – Do you enter poetry competitions?
I won the very first competition I entered but have yet to repeat that success. I’m focusing on magazine submissions at the moment, and have had three accepted recently (Under the Radar, Cake and The Rialto). I have entered some pamphlet competitions so fingers crossed!
4 – What would be your ideal place for a writing retreat?
Somewhere with a good view, good catering and internet access.
5 – You’re asked to give a reading at the Royal Festival Hall, to thousands of people. What goes through your mind?
6 – Can you remember the first poem you wrote – what was it about?
That would have been when I was a child and I can’t remember it. It was probably funny and rhyming – I was brought up on Edward Lear and the like. Then there would have been the teen angst poems, which I wrote in my twenties (late developer). These were mostly about my parents not understanding me, but also included an anti-Thatcher rant! I started writing more seriously and consistently on an Arvon course in 2007 – those poems are probably best forgotten too! Except to mark the start of something.
7 – A murmuration of starlings, a murder of crows etc – what would you call a group of poets?
I don’t know but I work as a studio manager and our collective noun is a ‘whinge’, as that’s what we do when we get together!
QUICK PLUG: Jill Abram is curating a series of readings called ‘Stablemates’ at Waterstones Piccadilly on the last Thursday of the month, starting in September. Each will feature three poets from one publisher. The first are Penned in the Margins, Nine Arches and Seren. Details will be on the events page of Waterstones website and on Jill’s site.
Previous ‘Seven Questions for Poets’:
#1 – Clare Best