Sammy is working with us on our JulianTrust Night Shelter r&d we asked her what inspired her in her work. You can read a selection of her poems in our inspire section.
Who are you and what form does your artistic practice take?
I am a poet from the Welsh Borders, now living and writing in Bristol.
Why and how did you start this sort of work?
I became very creatively inspired whilst studying Anthropology, but felt the output of academic essays didn’t match up to the vibrancy of learning about human ways. After graduating I began exploring anthropological themes through the writing of poetry. I love Seamus Heaney’s likening of his pen to a spade, ‘Between my finger and my thumb / The squat pen rests. / I’ll dig with it.’ When I first started writing I found myself digging up my childhood — making hidden memories visible on the page.
What contexts do you tend to work in and with whom?
I am drawn to those aspects of society that are forgotten and hidden. As a writer I spend much of my time balancing the solitude of creating work with immersion in the world to be inspired.
What’s your most significant moment of learning as an artist?
Poetry is a craft that will never be done in its teaching. I am always learning how content, form, rhythm, image and sound work together and at odds for different effects. I have learnt to trust the process of poetry rather like glazing a pot — there are elements that will always be unpredictable.
How do you feel your artistic practice fits within the bigger picture?
I’m not sure what the bigger picture is but I would love to think that at some point in my life I can give voice to something or someone that was voiceless before.
What is it about this project that particularly appeals to you?
I find hidden places, borderlands, the invisible and all those that inhabit such spaces very inspiring. Studying Anthropology led me to begin thinking about how humans inhabit space, how space inhabits us and how this creates our lives, our stories.
Can you give us a quotation, individual or piece of artists work that you find inspiring and why?
Two quotes that guide my work and teach me to trust, take risks and let be are Seamus Heaney’s line ‘strange, it is a huge nothing that we fear’ (Storm on the Island) and Rumi’s wisdom —
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor. …
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond. (The Guest House)