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Poetry Competitions UK
01 Jul 2011

Keith Jarrett

Keith Jarrett lives and works in London, where he grew up. He writes performance poetry and short fiction, and is currently working on his first novel. He was both Farrago’s London and UK Slam! Champion in 2010, and a semi-finalist in the World Cup Slam in Bobigny, Paris. Highlights of the year include performing at Warsaw’s Spoke’n’Word Festival. He also facilitates workshops and mentors young people in schools.

How old were you when you started writing poetry?
I was about 7 or 8 - I wrote a 'Get Well Soon' poem for an aunt of mine (which I still remember by heart). Ever since then I've enjoyed writing poetry, although I stopped for a few years when I was 15.

When and where was your first poem published?
When I was 12 I sent off a poem for a competition and it was published in their anthology. My mum has a copy still!

Which of your poems is your favourite and why?
This changes all the time. I can really hate something I've written one moment and then like it the next - and the reverse is true, too. At the moment, my favourite's probably "Tell Me (What You Believe)", as it's really a challege to myself, and I like the repetition - I basically keep repeating the question "Tell me what you believe?" through most of the poem.

What has been your greatest (poetry) success to date?
Seeing a poem of mine on the Warsaw Metro, translated into Polish (last year).

Do you have a special place you write?
Usually at home in front of the computer, although the N29 bus going back to Camden comes a close second.

You took part in the Poetry World Cup in Paris, where did you come?
I made it to the semi-finals, but both the winner and runner up were in my round! And they were amazing!

How did it feel to be crowned champion 2009/10 of the London and UK Slam?
I really wasn't expecting to win those slams, so it was a massive surprise.

Who is your favourite poet and why?
Oooh. Not sure I can answer that outright. One of my favourite spoken word poets has to be David Jay, simply for his style and delivery, and Kate Tempest for her raw energy. When I read poetry, it depends. Edward Brathwaite and Grace Nichols are both poets I read quite a bit when growing up, but I have too many favourites!

What is your type of poetry style?
I find it difficult to write or even perform poetry in a specific style.

Do you have any poetry ambitions left to fulfil?
I'd love to perform at a few more festivals and to start thinking about publishing a book of my poetry.

Do you have any events planned to take part in this year?
I'm performing at Stratford Literary Festival on 2nd May, then a few more places in London after then.

Keith also was invited by Poetry Rivals to be one of the judges at the 2010 Slam Final. More information can be found at www.poetryrivals.com

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