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Guest Author - Sarah Perry

Sarah Perry has recently been announced as Soho’s Writer in Residence, as part of Cityread London 2014. The residency is managed by Spread the Word, London’s writer development organisation.

Sarah is a writer and poet from Croydon. In 2013, her first novel was shortlisted for the Mslexia Novel Award for unpublished female authors, and she was longlisted for the role of London's Young Poet Laureate.

She's a member of the Roundhouse Poetry Collective, Burn After Reading Collective, Podium Poets and The A & The E. She's also one of the artists working on the Bespoke(n) project, which links tailoring and writing. Her one woman show Fish won Best Poetry Performance in the 2013 Camden SOLO Festival. On the page her writing uses strong images to connect with story and emotion.

Sarah is currently studying on the Spoken Word Educator MA Programme at Goldsmiths, which combines creative writing with teaching & facilitation, with a view to generating emotional literacy.


How old were you when you started writing and performing poetry?

I think I've always written. I was lucky to be brought up in a family where storytelling was important. Dad used to tell us stories whilst he cut our toenails on Sunday evenings. For me writing was something I did to make me feel better and performing was something I did to escape; I was an actor in my teens and through uni. I started to combine the two just over a year ago and it's been a challenging and exciting process.

Do you ever get nervous about performing your poems live?

I get nervous every time. Another poet told me recently that nerves were a sign that you respected the occasion. I hope that the nerves never go away; I'd just like to get better at managing them!

What advice would you give to a young poet?

I don't know; I'm still learning so much myself that I don't really feel qualified to give advice. I guess the advice that I try to follow is: be on time, say thank you, edit more, worry less.

Out of all your poems which one is closest to your heart and why?

I really don't know the answer to that! I'm just trying to develop my voice and let every new piece try to communicate something - however mundane - that's important.

How did it feel to be announced as Cityread Young Writer in Residence?

When I found out that I was going to be the Cityread writer in residence I felt very lucky, really excited and quite scared. I also wanted to get on the first bus to Soho and start writing!

Are you inspired by another poet, friend or family member?

Yes, absolutely. I draw inspiration from so many people: pretty much everyone I read/watch/know. I never stop feeling lucky about the incredibly creative and engaged community that I'm part of, both personally and professionally (and my professional community spans a group of campaigners and third sector workers as well as artists). Right now though I teach in two London schools on a regular basis - Holy Family in Walthamstow and Buxton in Leighton - and I'm so privileged to work with the young people there; they're so brave with their writing and so honest and playful. They inspire me to work harder and take bigger risks.
Who is your all time favourite poet and why?

That's too hard a question to answer; I love way too many. I'm also a literary flirt; I love to dip into a poet or writer or songwriter and then move on. Right now I'm reading a short story collection by Lorrie Moore and a poetry anthology from Arvon's (M)Other Tongues project called 'Beautiful like a traffic light'.

What advice would you give to a young poet about performing poetry to a live audience?

Be real with it; don't feel like you have to replicate a voice already active in the spoken word community. Speak slower than you think you need to. Seek out people who'll give you honest feedback. This is all stuff that has helped me.

What are your plans/hopes for the future in your career as a writer?

I hope that I will continue to write things that people want to read or hear, and that I'll keep getting better. I'm working towards a couple of potential publications with the residency and I would like to try to find an editor to work with towards publication for my novel too. I also love the opportunities to write with others that being a writer-facilitator offers and I hope that I will continue to share stories within education and development settings.

To find out more about Sarah Perry visit