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Poetry Competitions UK
15 Nov 2011

Nicki Heinen

Nicki Heinen is a London-based writer who was born in 1977.
She studied English at Girton College Cambridge, where she won the Barbra Wrigley Prize for Poetry.

She received a PGCE from Nottingham University in 2002 and went on to teach English and Drama at the Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School. 

She was published in the 10th Anniversary of the May Anthologies, edited by Andrew Motion, and in the Oxford Magazine. She has also written for the Birmingham Post and Fashion Insider Magazine.
Her play ‘Spin’ was performed by theatre company Write by Numbers at the Ovid Reworked festival in Brixton in 2010. Recent readings have included the Girton Poetry Festival and Speakeasy in Peterborough.

She is currently on the MA Creative and Life Writing Course at Goldsmiths College, University of London.

How old were you when you started writing poetry?

I was 7 when I wrote my first poem (about Spring, predictably), but I didn’t start writing seriously till I was 17.

When and where were you first published?

I was first published in the May Anthologies in my final year of University. It was edited by Andrew Motion and Nick Cave, and my poem ‘Europa’ was featured opening the collection.

Which of your poems is your favourite and why?

Hmm, a difficult one. Probably ‘Love Song’ because it’s the most personal.

What has been your greatest (poetry) success to date?

Giving a reading in Cambridge at the Girton Poetry Festival, alongside Bernard O’Donoghue and Chris Emery, with a packed house.

Do you have a special place you write?

I write at home, where I can shut the world out and really focus. Cafes and libraries are good for ideas and scribblings, but I find the nitty gritty of honing and editing is best done in quiet and comfort.

Who is your favourite poet and why?

A very difficult question. I never fail to be inspired by T.S. Eliot, William Blake and John Keats but my favourite contemporary poets are Jen Hadfield and John Ashbery.

What is your poetry style?

Generally free verse, with occasional use of rhyme. It tends to be quite dark but with a lyrical and imagistic flavour.

Do you have any advice for all the budding writers out there?

I would highly recommend getting a mentor of some sort another writer who you can bounce ideas off and who can give you advice. Structured courses are also very good for creating deadlines and giving you inspiration. And keep going the more you write the better your work will be.

Where does your inspiration come from?

It can come from anything, really Shakespeare, Basho, Greek mythology, a walk in the park, being in love…lately I’ve been drawing more and more on my own experiences.

Do you have a favourite book/author?

I think my favourite book is Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’, and Austen is definitely one of my favourite authors. I always come back to Beckett’s Complete Works and Shakespeare as well.

Do you have any poetry ambitions left to fulfil?

I’m looking forward to getting a collection out.

What are your plans for the future?

To keep writing! I’m thinking of pursuing a PhD in Creative Writing, but in any case I aim to keep working and keep enjoying what I do.

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