“Poetry is a catharsis for me to get all of the thoughts out of my head and put them through a creative filter.”

On 21 March, the world celebrates World Poetry Day.

It’s a day that is often overlooked, but the United Nations proclaimed World Poetry Day all the way back in 1999, with the hope that the day would help people recognise “the unique ability of poetry to capture the creative spirit of the human mind”.

This year, the IPF is shining a light on young spoken word artists in the United Kingdom.


Cleary Mallard, 23, Brighton

At around the age of fifteen I guess you could say I was having a bit of an existential crisis.

Questions like,“Who the f*** am I?”, “What are we?”, “What is the mind?”, “What is, basically anything?”, were pouring through my head and with them came a sort of inconsolable loneliness.

I wrote down a stream of consciousness type prose poem – not that I knew it was one at the time – and whatever intense seclusion of thoughts that were spinning around my brain day after day were suddenly on my computer screen in front of me.

Writing the last line of it, which involved a melting ice lolly and waves on a beach, I felt amazing.

The weight of the thoughts had been transferred outside of me.

From the Middle of Brooklyn Bridge‘ was written exactly where the title suggests. I was in the last week of my studies in the United States. For me, this poem is the culmination of my creative writing studies in Fresno, California. When my year abroad began, I used messy free-verse, standard rhyme schemes and my poetry “didn’t have a floor”, which is to say that it was all ideas and no concrete imagery.

By the time I wrote this, I was exiling the word “I” and attempting to give the emotion, the space, the chronology and the everything over to the very specific hands of concrete imagery.

It’s something I’m still working with a lot: allowing the space and the way the space is described to show the emotional state of the writer, where they are in their lives and how they feel.

Every now and then, when you’re somewhere like the centre of Brooklyn Bridge, you and the space have to form a poem.

Jafy Ryder, 26, Hastings

Poetry is a catharsis for me to get all of the thoughts out of my head and put them through a creative filter.

It’s necessary for me to have an outlet for all those jumbled thoughts of reality and how I perceive it.

I started writing when I was in Thailand. My first performance was at this beautiful place in a circus hostel in Pi, where I was encouraged to do an open mic at a bar called ‘Edible Jazz’, which had a fundraiser for the Tibetan earthquake.

I sat there, wrote something and, after drinking my bamboo cup filled with Thai whiskey, I got up on stage and was physically convulsing for how scared I was.

Half way through, I choked and the crowd was so lovely that they encouraged me to carry on. They gave me a great response, so since then I’ve been doing it more and more.

My poem, ‘Us and Them‘, is one I wrote for a fundraiser called Stand Up To Racism, which was raising money for the migrants in Calais. It was really nice to have a focal point to write towards rather than just getting all the jumbled words in my head and trying to put them on paper in some sort of poetic framework.

The reason its called Us and Them is because there’s such a media slant to divide us and blame everything on “them”, when really the “us” is everyone.

I’d like to go through the darkness of the reality that were facing in order to appreciate the light of what actual reality is.

That’s kind of the flow of the poem.

Roya Zahra Shadmand, 22, London

I’ve always written poetry and stories. It was my favourite pastime as a child, alongside reading, like most writers. It wasn’t really a decision, more a compulsion. It wasn’t till I was 16, however, that I shared my work with an audience for the first time. 

I recently read ‘Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal‘ by Jeanette Winterson and in it she says that fiction and poetry heal the “rupture reality makes on the imagination”.

I don’t think I can put it any better, at least not right now.

Literature is my way of knowing I haven’t been entirely exhausted by the world; that I still care enough to write about it and read what other people have to say about it.

I don’t make any money off of my poetry – yet. But I know a lot of people who do. It’s hard but they sustain themselves. Regardless, I’ve done a lot of cool stuff simply because I write poetry.

My poem, ‘Mussolini Was A Baby’, is based on a conversation I had with my friend and fellow poet, Gabriel Akamo (check him out). He has a way of saying things that you remember.