Poet Eloise Allen discusses her new poetry book, Embracing My Humanness, and what inspired her creative writing, on The Table Read, “The Best entertainment magazine in the UK“.
Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed poet Eloise Allen about what inspires her, her creative process, and the work that went into her new poetry book, Embracing My Humanness.
Tell me about who you are:
That’s quite a big question to answer in words alone. I don’t want to confine myself to one particular identity, however, I believe I am a woman who is learning. Learning about how I want to show up in the world; learning how to navigate everything life throws at us, learning how to be comfortable with being uncomfortable, the list goes on.
When did you first WANT to write poetry?
There wasn’t a point when I decided I wanted to write in a specific way. My writing evolved and shifted alongside my experiences as I first started writing creative stories when I was a little girl.
However, I stopped writing for years and then I was drawn towards poetry in the last couple of years as it is something subjective. You can’t get it ‘wrong’, there is no wrong grammar or punctuation or form because it just is.
When did you take a step to start writing poetry?
I started writing poetry during my time in a writing group therapy- we were given themes and ideas, time to write. Then we shared our work with each other and gave non-judgemental feedback. This helped build my confidence with the value of my words and work.
How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?
It took me about a year and a half.
What made you want to write Embracing My Humanness?
In the beginning, I wanted to write this book to show myself that I can finish things that I set my mind to, as this was something I struggled with in the past- taking up things and not finishing them. It was also a BIG dream of mine to say I published a book!
But then during the writing process, I also began to want to share my work in the hope that my words would be of use to others in some way.
What were your biggest challenges with writing Embracing My Humanness?
The biggest challenge was that my work is very raw and vulnerable. I write according to my inner world and experiences, and at times it felt very exposing knowing that these words would be shared with others.
Do you keep to a theme with your poems, or just go where the mood strikes?
The theme is ample, it is a million different themes in one. I wrote with the question in the back of my mind of ‘What does it mean to be human?’. From this I found inspiration in nature, my feelings, my relationships, the world, and my surroundings to answer that very question. But I also found that the question was rhetorical, it had no answer, its purpose was to invoke curiosity.
What is your favourite poem in Embracing My Humanness about and what inspired it?
Wow, that’s a hard question. I think one of my favourites is ‘Monochrome Madness’.
I was drawing a picture one night and I kept getting frustrated with myself, the paper and the pencil, because I felt like I couldn’t draw what I wanted to, and that it was going wrong. I got angry and started to scribble over the drawing with the pencil until the paper ripped from the force of the point of the pencil.
I then put the pencil and paper down and instead started to write down how the experience felt. How it felt to be frustrated that I couldn’t draw in a certain way. How it felt to be angry that I couldn’t get it ‘right’, how it felt to press the tip of the pencil into the paper until the paper disintegrated. It’s a short poem, but it holds a lot of significance.
Does music help you write or is it a distraction?
No, I don’t find music helps me.
Did you get support with editing? How much editing did Embracing My Humanness need?
I got someone to proofread the book for spelling mistakes, however with poetry there is no ‘correct’ form or grammar, or even spelling at times, and I sometimes play with the meanings of words in my poems. Therefore, I didn’t edit the book much at all, only a few words here and there.
What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write poetry?
There is no right or wrong. There is no good or bad, poetry is a subjective art and it doesn’t have to make sense to anyone else but yourself, and even then, sometimes my work doesn’t make sense to me until I apply a meaning. I would just start by finding something in your immediate surroundings and writing about it- be curious, playful, ask yourself how it feels, looks, smells; what it would say if it could talk, how it would walk if it could walk…don’t be afraid to explore.
Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?
I have no plans to write another poetry book any time soon, but I am not disregarding the possibility of another.
And, finally, are you proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?
I am super proud of myself. I think in today’s world many of us don’t praise ourselves enough for our accomplishments. I have fallen into the trap previously of being too scared to admit that I am proud of something, or that I think I did well at something, because there’s this unwritten idea that we’re arrogant, or self-absorbed if we say these things. I love my book, it was definitely worth the effort- as well as the writing, I also drew the pictures inside the book, and the cover is a photo that I took back in 2020.
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