Interview: Sarah Priest, Poet
So here is the second of my interviews with those involved in the creative industries. This time it is with Sarah Priest, a poet based in the UK… I’ll let her introduce herself and her work:
Tell me about yourself and your writing
I grew up in Surrey opposite a disused airport and had a great childhood exploring the woods, climbing trees, making camps and just coming home for dinner – this was before the invention of mobiles and computers. I think this is where my love of nature came from. I wasn’t particularly academic and English was one of my worst subjects, so writing for me was never something I thought I would do. I love it now, and whenever I go out, I always take a journal with me to jot down any inspirational thoughts that come to me, often turning them into a poem.
I have an old dictionary from my neighbour written in the 60’s and I peruse this often to find new words – I feel I have a lot to catch up on!
My working career began in insurance which I have been forever trying to change! I’ve taken courses in Floristy, Reflexology, Indian Head Massage and lastly Counselling. I enjoy gardening although this has been hampered somewhat due to my back problems and I love sci-fi, my favourite film being Star Wars. I’ve been fortunate enough to buy my first flat, and for anyone who has read my book you will know I have been renting for many years. I now live in Hampshire where I enjoy walking, writing and visiting lots of tea rooms!
How long have you been writing poetry?
Poetry is a relatively new hobby of mine, which began in 2011 whilst attending cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) for an eating disorder. During therapy I was encouraged to write down my feelings/thoughts and it was here that I wrote my first poem called ‘Hope’. After therapy I continued writing poetry and had several one to one tuition sessions in creative writing, however it was not until I met my current partner who became my muse did my poetry take off. I saw an advert in a magazine from Austin Macauley saying they were looking for new poets. So I sent off a few poems for some feedback and received a reply asking if I could submit some more poems. So, in about 3 months I redid a few and wrote some more and sent them off and low and behold, a few months later, I received a contract through the post – I was over the moon!!
What is your favourite writing style/subject?
I really enjoy writing about nature, trees, plants, animals. The beauty of walking by a canal or in the woods, the simple things in life. My writing style can be somewhat melancholic, wistful and thought provoking. My poetry often brings a tear, especially the ones I have written about my mother who is suffering from Dementia. I do write the odd light hearted one, like Devil in a Sponge Cake which I wrote when a colleague at work asked me to write about eating cake.
Who or what inspires/influences your writing?
Anything inspires me, sitting in a cafe, walking along the beach, articles in the newspaper, anything that evokes a passion within me. I also get inspiration from reading other poems, whenever I stumble across a 2nd hand bookshop I go straight to the poetry section. My favourite book is called The Desiderata of Happiness by Max Ehrmann it was written in 1927, I don’t believe he is a well-known poet however his philosophical writings, his search for spirituality, social truth and peace resonate with me, his poetry is beautiful, simple, yet poignant, something I am trying to aspire to.
You have a new book of poetry out – tell me about it…
Love, Life and Death in a Teacup is my first book of poems, it tells the story of a period of time in my life starting with my passion the allotment or ‘sanctuary’ as I called it, falling in love, recovering from an eating disorder and watching the slow demise of my mother’s mind to dementia. I realised all these events had one thing in common, tea! Relaxing in my chair after a hard day at the allotment drinking tea, meeting my beau at a café for tea, having a cuppa at the canteen before my therapy, so naturally tea had to feature in the title somewhere!
Which is your favourite poem from your book?
This is quite a difficult question as there are a few that stand out for me for different reasons, but I think Worlds End has to be my favourite as it’s about the first time I met my partner, here it is:
The day the world was going to end, I met you
Each minute we are apart tears me in two
I want to hold you close and never let you go
Hear your soothing voice touching my soul
Your tender kiss on my lips.
I miss you more than words can say
And love you more with each passing day
You are in my heart where you will stay
Until the stars turn cold.
The world did not end the day I met you, it just began…
What is your next writing project going to be?
I am toying with writing some short stories. I have already written the beginning of about five, however I am still figuring out the middles and the ends. I would like to publish another poetry book as I have lots of poems written already and I am contemplating an autumnal theme, how shedding leaves is like shedding emotions and a time for reflection.
Where can people get hold of a copy of your book?
My book is available online at Amazon, Waterstones, Foyles and the publisher, Austin Macauley, and I am also selling copies to local gifts shops. I approached a tea shop just recently in Fleet called Amici, who said they were happy to stock a few copies, so if anyone is ever in the area it is a great café to have some tea and cake!
Where can people find out more about you and your work?
Please see my blog page… this is a new venture for me and I am still in the process of setting this up. I hope to be writing my first blog post in the coming months so watch this space!
I would just like to thank Kate for giving me this opportunity to share my creativity – I hope it inspires!
Thank you so much for taking part in this interview series Sarah – it was fantastic to find out a bit more about you and your writing! I look forward to reading more of your work in the future…