On The Table Read, “The Best Book Reader Magazine in the UK“, writer Amy Clennell discusses her life with hidden disabilities, and the work that went into her new poetry book, Renaissance.
Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed author Amy Clennell about her life and career, what inspires her poetry, and the creative work that went into her latest release, Renaissance.
Tell me a bit about who you are.
I have cerebral palsy which, in my case, means that I am a wheelchair user with other hidden disabilities including severe dyspraxia with its associated anxiety problems. I am also partially sighted. As a result, I cannot see to read and lack the co-ordination required for Braille, typing or writing. Therefore, I often need others to act as my eyes and hands. Although I am obviously somewhat restricted by my condition, it does not define who I am.
After graduating from Coventry University in 2007, with a degree in Theatre and Professional Practice, I undertook voluntary employment leading drama workshops for adults and children with disabilities, some of the former with Anjali Dance Company and some of the latter with Graeae Theatre.
When did you first WANT to write a book?
I have always been an avid ‘reader’ (ie listener!) of fairy tales, from Charles Perrault to Angela Carter and eventually wanted to write my own versions of some of these.
When did you take a step to start writing?
Whilst at University I wrote, directed and produced a play for radio but at that time was mostly interested in theatre and performance but the ideas for a book of ‘fairy tales were formulating. In the course of my voluntary employment with disabled adults, I wrote, directed and produced a stage play, ‘Superstar’s New Threads’, a modern take on The Emperor’s New Clothes. In 2013 I enrolled on a creative writing course and the following year self-published my first book, ‘Mystical Tales of Unitalia’.
How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?
The entire process probably took around three years.
How long did it take you to complete your latest book from the first idea to release?
Over the years my creative writing tutor encouraged me to enter some of my work into competitions. There followed some success with a short story and some poems being published, some of the poems receiving awards. In August 2021 while lunching with a friend he asked if I had ever considered compiling a book of my poems. As a result my first poetry book, ‘Renaissance’ was released in March 2022.
Focusing on your latest release. What made you want to write Renaissance?
Most of the poems in ‘Renaissance’ had already been written over the previous few years so the bulk of the material was there. It was the encouragement of my tutor, Dave Copson and my friend, Iain Lauchlan’s (BAFTA winner for ‘The Tweenies’) belief in my ability which prompted me to complete the book.
What were your biggest challenges with writing Renaissance?
In our lives we all experience happiness and sadness together with many diverse emotions. Some of my poems were a joy to write, some are perhaps even frivolous. Others express more complex feelings of grief, anger, frustration, insecurity and anxiety.
These poems were more challenging as they reflect some of my on-going states of mind. However, I find the ‘writing’ of them both a healing and motivating process.
Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did Renaissance need?
The poems needed very little editing, mostly correcting my punctuation errors! My publisher, Cherish Editions, helped me in sequencing them and also in selecting the accompanying artwork.
What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a poem?
Be clear in your mind about the ‘inspiration’ for your poem and write what you feel.
Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?
I have almost completed the sequel to my first book. I believe my writing skills have improved since attempting that first one! I also have a collection of short stories and, of course, I continue to write poetry.
And, finally, are your proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?
I am pleased with my first book of poems and honoured that it is the first poetry book to be published by Cherish Editions. I sincerely believe that its content may resonate with others and in some cases be helpful also.
Pop all your book, website and social media links here so the readers can find you:
Facebook : Amy Clennell
Book available from: https://triggerhub.org/product/renaissance-amy-clennell/
Also: Amazon, Book Depository
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