LISP 2023 Poetry Finalist, 'Pelham Woods' by Kirk Millis-Ward
- Can you please tell us about you and your daily life?
I live in a cottage on the Isle of Wight with my wife and young son. It’s a beautiful, peaceful part of the world and I’m lucky to be able to see the sea every day.
By day I work in the NHS and in my spare time I write poetry and fiction of all kinds.
A lot of my work explores mental health and neurodiversity.
- When and how did you get into writing?
Writing has always felt natural, and fun. But I started writing properly after I left university and went on to study journalism, writing news helped me focus my thoughts and write more concisely. I launched and edited a spiky culture and politics magazine called So It Goes in 2007 but changed direction to focus on news writing for various newspapers for most of the next decade.
I am new to sharing my creative writing and I’ve found it exciting and scary in equal measure. My poem, Show, don’t tell was published as part of a TS Elliot anthology by Wingless Dreamer.
I have just completed my first collection of poetry, which charts a personal journey of recovery from illness and dealing with an ADHD diagnosis.
I write most days, depending on what’s going on at work or at home. I write when everyone else is asleep, when the world is quiet, and I can let my thoughts fizz out onto the page.
- How did you develop the idea for your LISP-selected story? Is there a story behind your story? And, how long have you been working on it?
Pelham Woods is a deeply personal poem. It came about after I walked around the woods behind my house. The natural world is so important to my creativity and to my recovery. The walk I took reminded me of the darkest days and showed me the hope and light ahead. The poem emerged that night and it’s only been lightly edited since.
- Can you please give us a few tips about writing a Poetry?
I can only speak from my own perspective. But the best tip I can offer is to read. Read as much as you can. Read the stuff you like; follow the writers you admire and use what you learn.
Oh, and don’t judge yourself too harshly. If you’re not sure that you like what you’ve written, let it sit and come back to it with fresh eyes. I find there’s always something I can use.
- What's the best thing and the most challenging thing about competitions?
The toughest thing is the fear of rejection. The best thing about it is the sense of validation. The risk is 100% worth the reward.
I definitely recommend that people research the publications and competitions before submitting though. Make sure you like what they do and then go for it.
- Lastly, do you recommend the writers submit to LISP?
I may not have won my category, but I wholeheartedly recommend submitting to LISP. It is such a good feeling to see my work among such excellent writers.