Writer Interview: Elizabeth Gibson

Our latest writer interview is with poet, writer and Masters student Elizabeth Gibson. Elizabeth was published in the May issue of Peeking Cat Poetry Magazine, and you’ll also find her in the Peeking Cat Anthology 2017!


When and why did you first start writing?
I started writing stories when I was a kid, mainly because I loved reading them (some of my favourite authors were Dick King-Smith, Michael Morpurgo and Gwyneth Rees). As a teenager, I began sending my work out into the world and when some of my poems were accepted into magazines I found the confidence to continue pursuing a writing career alongside my degree in French and Spanish. Writing and language-learning now run side by side in my life and each is a big influence on the other.
Who is most supportive about your writing?
I’m lucky in that everyone around me supports and encourages my writing. My family have followed my journey from when I was tiny and wrote strange little poems about cats and bats, and they always give me faith in myself. Many of my friends are also writers or creatives – I’m a member of The Writing Squad, a great writing group in the North of England, and I have some lovely friends there.
What do you enjoy writing, and what do you find yourself writing about most often?
I write a lot of poetry and short fiction, and I also have a travel blog. As a languages student I often spend periods of time living in France and Spain, and the new cultures and ways of life I encounter inspire not only my blog but my other writing as well. I try to incorporate universal themes as well; I know not everyone is able to travel and I want my writing to feel relevant and relatable to as many readers as possible. So, I include ideas around coming of age, relationships, nature, life and death.
Where do you write? Do you have a writing space or a particular process/routine?
I write wherever I can find peace and quiet; I need a calm space in order to really throw myself into my work. I’ll often be inspired while I’m on the move – for example, if I visit an amazing place or witness an interesting local tradition. I’ll store those ideas in my head until I can sit down and fashion them into a poem or a fiction piece. I try to write every day, whether that’s blogging, poetry or planning a novel.
What’s your favourite word?
I wrote a poem about my love of the word “saffron”, which was published in Jotters United. I think it is a combination of the sound, the way it looks written down and the meaning that appeals to me. In Spanish, I love the word “murciélago” which means bat, as in the animal. It is also a model of car but I knew it as being a bat first, and I just love how the word sounds and the fact that it contains every vowel.
What do you find the most difficult or challenging about writing?
I find writing poems fairly unproblematic, as I can do a quick first draft and then come back and edit. With longer pieces, however, I sometimes become nervous that I’ll make a mistake or do something that I’ll later change my mind about; that I’ll get to the end and then have to go back and change half the story. I guess maybe I just need to believe in myself more. It can also be hard to find time to write when I have other projects going on, but I try to do a little bit whenever I can.
Tell me about the piece of work that you are most proud of writing, or about the writing accomplishment you are most proud of.
I recently won a Northern Writers’ Award, which was wonderful. I was selected as a New North Poet and will spend a year being mentored by the poet Clare Pollard, which I’m really excited about. Being accepted into The Writing Squad was also a proud moment, as places are limited. As for pieces of work, I’m really pleased with my first poetry collection. It hasn’t yet been published but I really hope it will be someday soon. The collection draws on my experiences travelling as well as some of the changes happening in the world. I’m also proud of Foxglove Journal, which I founded and edit.
What are your writing plans, goals or dreams for the future?
I really hope to have a poetry pamphlet or collection published. I’m also working on a Young Adult novel set in the south of France which, though fictional, draws on some of my own experiences living there. I hope that Foxglove Journal can grow and evolve; it is nearly one year old so I am planning some celebrations. Overall, I just want to make a difference and inspire and comfort people with my writing.
Elizabeth Gibson was announced as a New North Poet at the 2017 Northern Writers’ Awards. She is a Masters student at the University of Manchester whose work has appeared in Peeking Cat, Antiphon, Cake, Far Off Places, Gigantic Sequins and Ink, Sweat & Tears among other places. She edits Foxglove Journal and the Word Life section of Now Then Manchester. She tweets at @Grizonne and blogs at http://elizabethgibsonwriter.blogspot.co.uk.

Would you like to take part in an interview for the Peeking Cat blog? Email editor@peekingcatpoetry.co.uk

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