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Tell everybody a little about yourself.
Well my name is Sue Hardy-Dawson and I'm a dyslexic poet and illustrator who mostly writes for children.
My first solo collection of poems, 'Where Zebras Go' was published by Otter-Barry books and was shortlisted for the CLiPPA in 2018. My next, a collaborative book of shape poems 'Apes to Zebras' was written with Roger Stevens and Liz Brownlee. It was published by Bloomsbury and won the NSTBA for poetry the same year. This year just as lockdown happened my new solo collection 'If I Were Other Than Myself' came out. published by Troika.
Was your creativity affected in any way during the lockdown? Did being lockdown make you feel inspired or deflated?
I write every day however I feel, like most people I expect, my mood was all over the place. Some days were a grind and others I would wake with an idea and not think about anything but that until I had finished.
Was it therapeutic doing creative work during lockdown?
Writing or anything creative, I find is therapeutic because in order to create it is all consuming. So whilst I'm writing, for instance, I don't worry about anything. My head is completely engaged with what I'm doing. So it does give you time away from your cares and worries. Of course occasionally something in your life is all consuming and then it becomes cathartic, like talking to a friend. But probably not something I would want someone else reading. Or that someone else would enjoy. However, all writing has its purpose and sometimes those raw emotions can be recycled and used in positive ways later on.
How did you occupy your time?
I walk my dogs, I write, paint, sew, make models, enjoy cooking. I read a lot, mostly later at night when I have no energy left but my head's racing.
What was the main thinking behind your poems submitted to Together Behind Four Walls ?
The poems I submitted reflected my changing emotions during lockdown. I wrote them to occupy myself to exorcise my feelings. But also I posted many on social media because often it helps others too in joining together and not feeling that you are the only one feeling that way. Especially the mood swings.
What inspires most of your poems?
I'm not sure any one thing does, I often have ideas in the middle of the night or on dog walks, but inspiration wise my brain is very eclectic. I have sudden impulses to explore an idea and they can be set off by all sorts of random things. Often the juxtaposition of a number of random things, to be honest.
Do you have any favourite poems, from all the poems you have written?
I have some, but often it's the one I'm working on at the time. I have written around 4000 poems, not all of them are good but many have some potential. I may not see what it is for a year or so but suddenly the answer will come. Often my favourite poems started out as something I almost threw away.
Do you remember the first poem you ever wrote or one of the first?
The first poem I wrote was on a holiday in Wales. Because I have dyslexia, as a child I hated writing. Postcards were a holiday's penance. So I wrote my short poem on every postcard that year. I found it much easier than anything else I had had to write & my relatives seemed delighted. When my Nana died I was in my 20s but she still had that postcard in her bedside drawer.
Do you ever think of poems before going to sleep or just after waking up?
Often, I always keep a pen and paper by my bed. I often sneak out to the hall to write in the middle of the night too.
Do you hand write poems or go directly on to your computer?
Mostly I type ideas into emails on my phone. Often a line at a time as it comes to me. I do have a note book and I use that too, but if I type I know I will be able to read it. Also I type quicker than I can write.
Do you ever give up on poems you have started?
Rarely, however how they start may hardly be recognisable from how they end up. One of the things I take into schools and writing groups are early drafts of some of my published poems. I think it helps motivation if you see just how an idea begins and how far that is from a finished poem. One poem I started seven years before finishing it. I put them aside and when I have no ideas and a deadline I read through my notebook. It always does the trick. Either I write something they inspire or the answer to how to finish a poem, perhaps written months ago, pops into my head.
Do you do anything else creative?
Well all of the above, but also I'm an illustrator and I have illustrated two of my collections. My most recent book I got to do the cover as well, so that was lovely. I paint a lot and also I make puppets to use when I visit schools and events.
Do you only focus on poetry or do you also write prose?
I write other things, short stories, I'm halfway through a children's novel and I write a lot of articles and academic essays.
Do your poems ever have strong messages?
Yes, sometimes, if I feel strongly about things I write about them. Especially things like the way people treat each other and the world. It may not be my place to comment at all but inevitably that will happen.
How would you describe the tone of your poems?
Surreal and magical mostly but again I'm eclectic so however I'm feeling when I write them.
If you had to write a poem about yourself, how would it start?
If I were other than myself...
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