A guest post from our Poet of the Month, Aoife Mannix.
For me, poetry lies somewhere between music and prose in that the sound of the words is as important as their meaning. Hearing poems aloud is an excellent way for audiences to appreciate their rhythm and musicality. There is something about the special atmosphere of a live setting, that direct connection with an audience, that I find really inspiring.
I began writing poetry at the age of eleven when my family moved from Dublin to New York. I think it was the culture shock of being in America that first pushed me into putting pen to paper! It was only when I emigrated from Ireland to London when I was twenty-two that I discovered getting up in front of an audience. I’d entered a competition and failed to read the small print which said that if you were a finalist, you had to come and perform your poem. When I got a phone call congratulating me on the opportunity to stand up in front of a bunch of complete strangers to present my poem, I found the idea terrifying. However I went along and to my great surprise won the competition!
Since then I’ve got up in front of audiences in all kinds of different places. I’m writing this in Latvia where myself and fellow poet Jacob Sam La Rose have been invited by the British Council. So far we’ve performed on the top of a roof terrace of an old Soviet factory that’s been converted into an arts centre and in a huge parking lot with translations of our poems projected in large above us. Tonight we’re performing in a theatre in Riga. These are my favourite kinds of gigs where I get to travel and meet people from different cultures. (Check out the video of Jacob and Aoife in Latvia below! – ed.)
I’ve published four collections of poetry and a novel. I also run creative writing workshops in schools, libraries, universities etc. I feel it’s a real privilege to be able to make a living doing something I really love.