#PoeTips are back! This time bigger and better, with more advice from your favourite poets. This blog post is one of a series in which we interview poets in order to uncover their golden nuggets of wisdom. In this post, we interviewed poet, author and dancer Tishani Doshi. Her first poetry collection Countries of the Body won the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. Her other collections include Everything Begins Elsewhere, Dolce Marcescenza (Sweet Decay), and Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods.
Q: How do you know when a poem is finished?
A: I stick with Paul Valéry who said a poem is never finished, only abandoned.
Q: How have poetry competitions been helpful to you in your career?
A: I won the All India Poetry Competition in 2005 for a poem called “The Day We Went to the Sea.” It was judged by Jeet Thayil and John Agard, and it was a moment of affirmation. It was as if they’d opened a window in the house of poetry and said, ‘Climb in, you’re a poet.’
Q: How do you overcome writers block?
A: I don’t. I go and live my life and hope it’s gone when I get back to my desk.
Q: Could you suggest a writing prompt which you have found useful?
A: Poetry is self-generative. If you read a poet whose work you love, you will find yourself wanting to write a poem. From one poem springs multitudes.
Q: What is the best advice you’ve received?
A: My father, when faced with problems, always sighs cheerfully and says, “What to do?” This has been a peaceful, non-confrontational way of moving through life. All excess emotion such as anger, rage, disappointment are then funnelled into poems.
Q: What was the worst criticism you’ve received? What’s your advice on dealing with rejection?
A: Someone asked me once on stage, at a festival, you have all these poems about loss, why don’t you just write a poem about a really good fuck? If there’s something useful to be taken from criticism, take it, otherwise, delete from the hard drive.
Have a look at the rest of our #PoeTips interviews for even more brilliant poetry advice from leading poets. Happy writing!
We're delighted to announce that submissions to the Women's Poetry Competition and Pamphlet Competition are now open!
This is the second year we have partnered with Mslexia to bring you two exciting competitions promoting women's poetry. The top prize for the Women's Poetry Competition will be £2,000, mentorship with PBS Selector Sandeep Parmar, and a residency kindly offered by Cove Park. The winner of the Women's Pamphlet Competition will receive £250 at publication of their pamphlet by Seren.
Entries are open from the 1st of June until the 16th of September, 5pm GMT. You can submit online by clicking the Submittable button below, or click here for more information about the prizes, including the terms and conditions, and alternative ways to submit.