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Poetry Competitions UK
08 Aug 2011

Tamsin Kendrick

Tamsin Kendrick is a south London poet and ghost-writer who has been performing poetry up and down the country and sometimes beyond for the last ten years. Tamsin Kendrick's first collection Charismatic Megafauna was published with Penned in the Margins in January 2009 and went on to win a commendation from the Forward Prize for her poem Peter Pan Versus Captain Hook.

How old were you when you started writing poetry?
I think I remember writing my first poem before I really even knew what poetry was, around the age I’d just started learning to write complete sentences. It just seemed like a very natural thing for me to do - my father is a songwriter and always scribbling on little bits of paper, so perhaps that’s where I picked it up.

When and where were you first published? My first collection Charismatic Megafauna was published with Penned in the Margins in January 2009.

Which of your poems is your favourite and why? Now that’s a difficult question! I’d have to probably say it’s usually the one that I wrote last, though Peter Pan Versus Captain Hook won a Forward Prize commendation so I’m pretty proud of that one!

What has been your greatest (poetry) success to date?
I think the fact that I’m still writing is my biggest success! I dread the day the words dry up.

Do you have a special place you write? I love writing in pubs and cafés, watching the world go by, drinking a cup of tea or glass of wine. I often incorporate conversations I overhear into my poems, so be careful what you say when you’re out and about as it may get used in a poem!

Who is your favourite poet and why? I tend to have favourite poems rather than poets but if I had to go for my current favourite it would be an American poet called Stephen Dunn. He has a brilliant poem called The Retarded Angel that I find painstakingly beautiful.

What is your poetry style?
I always find the question what kind of poetry do you write a difficult one, partly because I often alternate between more performance pieces and page pieces. I suppose I can often be confessional with a slight urban edge, however the stuff I’m writing at the moment is pretty obtuse so I’d have no idea how to categorise that!

You have performed widely, which festival or event did you enjoy most and why? It’s difficult to say, I’ve been to so many great events and festivals that I’ve enjoyed in different ways for different reasons. It’s always nice doing a gig where the audience might not be used to the idea of poetry but by the end of your set they’ve started getting excited about how entertaining poetry can really be.

At Oxford you hosted an open-mic night, tell us about that.
That was a lot of fun - when I was at Oxford the poetry nights tended to be quite academic and a bit dull. I wanted to create a chaotic night where anyone could perform anything and just be themselves. We had everyone from Oxford professors to people with no fixed abode to people performing poetry for the first time or even for a dare! I’d love to run a night again at some point though there are so many amazing nights in London at the moment that I don’t think they need another one!

Do you have any poetry ambitions left to fulfil?
All I ever wanted as a poet was just to keep getting better and better. So my ambition is to every year be a better writer than the year before and to always get passionate and excited about writing new things and keeping it fresh. I’d love to go away at some point in the next year and intensely work on my second collection so if anyone has any suggestions of where I could go I’d love to hear them!

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