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Poet Interview: Talitha Wing

Poet Interview: Talitha Wing

Talitha Wing possesses a powerful voice. Wrecking Ball Press publish Talitha’s debut The Things I Learnt and the Things I Still Don’t Know About on July 26, 2021. The honest, raw and intimate nature of the poetry in this debut collection will make a positive impact on your life.

Within the pages of The Things I Learnt and the Things I Still Don’t Know About, Talitha presents a collection of work that provides a voice for those who, like her, refuse to be categorised and labelled. Talitha explores the ambiguities of the journey into adulthood, self-acceptance and what it means to be ‘other’ in a manner that will resonate with readers.

Poets can spend years finding their voice but Talitha writes with the same level of self-assurance, passion and determination that are evident in her spoken word performances. We should all be thankful that she’s picked up her weapon of choice in order to get these poems onto the page and is now ready to share them with the world. The Things I Learnt and the Things I Still I Don’t Know About is as vital and exhilarating as poetry gets.

Ahead of publication we caught up with Talitha to find out more about her work, her writing process and how she balances life as a poet with that of an actor.

How would you describe this collection?
To me this collection is a journey into adulthood, a raw and real look at discovering ones identity, and all the experiences, thoughts and feelings that come along with that, both extremely exciting, utterly confusing and often a mountain sized challenge. From the first time using a tampon, to heartbreak, dealing with mental health and everything in between.

When did you start writing these poems and how long did this collection take to come together?
I wrote the poems in ‘real time’, as my friends and I were going through the transition into womanhood. The first poem I wrote for this collection was written when I was around 15/16 and some were written earlier this year (2021). I feel for that reason, it is able to tell a story that takes you on a journey through growing up.

Poems on the page or poems in performance?
Poems on the page, that way you can keep them forever, and read them any time you need some comfort. Books are magical. They’re the ultimate pocket pal.

How do you balance your work as a poet and that of an actor?
I’m still learning how to balance both of these parts of my career. I write mostly in the evenings, as a way to process the day to day. Poetry is a form of journalling for me, and a self-soothing mechanism. I also like to write when I’m travelling on buses, tubes and trains etc. My acting work is much more structured and scheduled. When I’m working on a TV show, it takes up most of my ‘working day’ but I always find time to write at home.

Has Covid-19 affected the way that you write?
Covid has been a challenge! It has felt like the world has been at a standstill for the last year or so. For this reason a lot of my recent writing has been reflective. Like many others I have used this time to look back at and process the last few years. It has been a time to pause, breathe and think.

Could you tell us something about your creative process?
My creative process is very free, I try not to put too many rules in place, so I can express myself freely, especially for a first draft. I carve out time to write but will also just jot down poems or certain phrases or thoughts in my phone notes as and when they come to me. This is my first poetry collection so I’ve learned a lot about creating a book as a whole, and that does take a level of structure and the creation of an overall arc, but I will always lead with the poems that come to me and create a book around them.

You write about some important subjects and themes – what drives you do do this?
I think it is imperative to write about subjects that may be viewed as taboo or underrepresented such as mental health, women’s sexuality, the experiences of ethnic minorities in a predominately white-led society, because they affect so many of us and navigating them as we grow up can be very challenging. To know that other people have or are currently experiencing these issues too has been a major comfort to me throughout my life, and I hope to provide that for others with my work. The more we talk about these things openly and candidly, the more we can ensure young people are safe, supported and heard. Especially those who may feel ‘other’ for whatever reason.

What experience do you want readers of your collection to have?
I want readers to be able to get lost in the words, the world and the story of the collection. I hope it is accessible and easy to digest – I love that poetry doesn’t have to be elitist, fancy and traditional (I love poetry like that too sometimes) but my style is hopefully quite down to earth! I want them to feel how I feel when I listen to a Beyoncé album.

Who do you think the audience for your poetry is?
I’d say that this collection is mostly for young people, young adults and adolescents – but also for anyone who has felt different, unseen, or unheard. It is a love letter to young women.

Do you have any thoughts about your experience of independent publishers?
I have enjoyed working with an independent publisher (Wrecking Ball Press) as it has a very personal feel. There is so much passion in the work. It’s not about selling books on an international scale to make money but about the love of poems – that’s all I could wish for, when looking for a publisher.

Who are the contemporary poets/spoken word artists/performance poets that you admire, and why?
The poet who has inspired me most and whose work I adore is Vanessa Kisuule. I read her book Joyriding The Storm when I was 18 and it was like she was hugging the little girl inside me. I also listen to a Rudy Francisco poem at least once a week – he’s a wizard!

What can audiences expect from you when you perform these poems in a live setting?
Much like my book it will probably be a bit rough and ready, uncensored and swear-y in all the right places.

What else are you working on and what does the future hold for you as a poet?
I will keep writing and see what happens. I don’t plan ahead to much because as this year has taught me, you never know what is around the corner. I would like to write poetry for children though – a children’s poetry collection would be pretty epic.

What would you say to someone who was keen to express themselves through poetry?
Poetry can be whatever you want it to be – don’t worry about it ‘getting it right’. Whatever ends up on the page is perfect.

The Things I Learnt and the Things I Still Don’t Know About can be pre-ordered directly from Wrecking Ball Press at https://wreckingballpress.com/product/the-things-i-learnt-and-the-things-i-still-dont-know-about/