The Monthly interviews a young New Zealand poet, Sarah-Kate Simons – Part 1 – Becoming a poet

When did you first start writing? What are your earliest memories?

I’ve been writing for years. I never used to like physically writing as a child, but I would harass my mother and get her to sit and listen to me. I would then proceed tell her these really long detailed stories which she would write down for me. At some point I decided I actually enjoyed handwriting and so I started to write the stories down by myself. That was basically where everything started and it hasn’t ever stopped. It really just snowballed from there.

Did you get support at school for your writing?

I’m home-schooled. I live in a little farming town in Canterbury, which is just outside of Christchurch on the South Island of New Zealand, and so, yes, I have a lot of support at home and through being homeschooled, I have always been encouraged with my writing.

Region of Canterbury in New Zealand

When I was younger, my mum used to hold poetry tea afternoons for me. We would get the old china tea set down from the cupboard and read aloud from poetry books while we drank, which definitely sparked my love for poetry as a writing form.

What ideas do you interrogate when you’re writing your work?

With regards to my process, I initially write down some very raw ideas, first thoughts really, and from there I work on the sound of the words, and look closely at the words I am putting together. I really want the words to work on the page. I am a perfectionist and so I will sit there and I will play and play and play with the material until I am happy with what I have created. If the poem looks good on the page, if it sounds good when it is read aloud and I can hear it, and the ideas are expressed with a good energy, then I know what I am writing is working. I am also always looking for expressions which are unique and new. I often want to make ordinary experiences as interesting and engaging as I can through my writing.

You want your work to be relatable?

I do want people to be able to read my work and be able to identify with the narrative. Reading poetry should be a useful and an enjoyable experience and I do want to make what I write enjoyable to read.

part two of this interview is here

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