So, first of all, how did it feel to win Nottingham’s Slamovision heat? 

It was very overwhelming to win. I cried on stage so that might give you some indication of how incredible it felt! I was just immensely shocked because I was up against so many talented and worthy competitors. It was very unexpected.

When did you know that writing was what you wanted to do? Was there a particular poem you’d written which was the spark?

I think in some ways I’ve always known that writing would be a part of my life. When I was younger my grandma was very passionate about poetry and would read it to me lots. It’s hard not to fall in love with something when someone you care about so clearly adores it. From there I kept writing and I first realised I had a talent for it at school after the reactions of my teachers and classmates. Seeing how your writing provokes emotions in people is very special. The first piece of writing I ever did was a story about princesses on sheets of paper stapled together. I didn’t find poetry until later.

The poem which was the spark was one from year six which I got to read aloud to my class. It was the first time I’d written a free verse poem; it was more like a stream of consciousness. After I’d read it there was a moment of silence and then everyone began clapping. I knew the feeling in that moment was something I needed to replicate. That poem really helped me to find my style of writing. I don’t like to overly edit my poems as I find it strips away the raw emotions of them. I think you can definitely see that in Father’s Daughter.

What are your writing influences?

This is a horrible question because I have so many different ones! I’ll try to break it down into different stages of my life. Firstly, as a young teen, I loved Harry Potter (I still do) and the Percy Jackson series were some of my favourites. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve definitely gotten more into modern classics such as Animal Farm more. In regards to poetry, my biggest influences are W.H Auden, Wendy Cope and Spike Milligan. Their styles and themes resonate most with me, especially The Orange by Wendy Cope. Currently, I’m lucky enough to be influenced by people I know. Last year’s Slamovision winner, Abíódún Olátòkunbò Abdul, for example. Her delivery and level of performance are massively inspirational.

What kind of writing are you interested in currently?

Actually, at the minute I’m not writing that much poetry. I’m mainly focused on a collection of short stories which will form my dissertation. They’re twisted tales centred around tarot cards and inspired by Tales of the Unexpected and Inside No.9. I’m always interested in all kinds of writing though. Recently, on the course, we got to write a play which incorporated a performance-poetry-style monologue. That was great! I’m still writing performance poetry because I love reading my work to an audience. I think lots of poems, definitely mine, need to be read aloud to be fully appreciated and resonate with people. After university I hope to be able to write my first novel. I’ve already got a few ideas.

Where do you get most of your inspiration from?

People, definitely people. My writing is mostly driven by human emotions and experiences as that’s the kind of writing I like reading. I really don’t think there’s anything more interesting than the human experience. I struggle with pure nature poetry, for example, because I find the absence of humanity difficult to connect to. Most of my inspiration definitely comes from emotions and people.

How have you found your Creative Writing course at NTU?

I have absolutely loved it! It’s what has got me here. I can’t imagine pre-university Annie standing up and performing poetry. I would have been far too anxious. The closest thing I had done prior to university was reading a poem at my grandad’s 80th birthday. I do have to say though, you get out what you put in. When the lecturers tell you to make the most of all the many, amazing opportunities you get presented on the course, they really mean it. It’s through the university that I found WRAP and Slamovision where I get an audience for my work. Performance poetry has been transformative for my confidence and writing and I have university to thank, at least partly, for that.

Staying with university, what do you think you will do after finishing your degree?

I’m not certain on what I’ll be doing when I finish but I do know it will be in Nottingham. Nottingham’s literary community is always thriving. From the close-knit community of writers, WRAP, all the open mic nights to being a City of Literature, there’s always something to do as a writer in Nottingham. There’s so many different projects to be involved with. I also think that writing can be really lonely so having that community and connection is vital.

What advice would you give someone looking to get into writing?

I don’t feel fully qualified to answer this, but I will mention some of the things that have helped me. Firstly, whenever an opportunity comes up, go for it, whatever it is. Submit your writing to magazines or newspapers, start a blog, read at open mic nights, do everything you can! Definitely try to get immersed within a community of writers to get their feedback and support. Lastly, just do it, be brave. Although sharing your writing is daunting, watching people’s reactions to it is even more rewarding.

So you’d definitely recommend Slamovision then?

Absolutely! The atmosphere of the heat was so welcoming and supportive. Definitely go, even if you don’t read, it’s still a great experience and pretty pressure-free. Although I didn’t win last year, I still loved it. It’s so rare to have such an engaged and captivated audience. Everyone is there because they love poetry.

You can catch Annie at open mic nights throughout Nottingham and follow her work @annierosewrites on Instagram.