When I was two years old I wanted to be a bus driver or an orchestra conductor – the latter because I wanted to wave my arms about a lot. By the time I was four, my ambitions had matured – I wanted to be an “artist, actress, writer or musician”. As I told people this, I could practically hear the applause and see myself taking a deep and impressive bow.
I did end up becoming a writer of sorts – though this is still a work in progress – and studied Creative Writing as an undergraduate and for a Masters, with a focus on poetry. I like a lot of different poets, but perhaps one of the first people whose poetry deeply moved me was Gerard Manley Hopkins. When I read ‘The Windhover’, I felt myself gripped by its strange and taut tension. I soared alongside the “dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding / Of the rolling level underneath him steady air”.
Reviewing, for me, fulfils several purposes. Firstly, I think it makes me a better reader. When I know I’m going to review something, I concentrate more on the way individual poems and a whole collection is put together. Secondly, I think it makes me a better writer. Reviewing helps me to keep abreast of what is happening in the poetry world and gives me ideas for my own work. Finally – and this is the main reason why I want to review – I love the idea of paying proper attention to a poet’s work and doing their art justice. I always get a thrill when a writer shares or comments online on a review I have written of their work. It’s nice to think that you are supporting other poets and helping them to see that their hard work and talent is recognised, appreciated and very much needed.