The Monthly interviews New Zealand writer and poet, Makyla Curtis – Part 2 – An interest in Poetry

part one of this interview is here

What is your first recollection, if you have one, of being attracted to poetry as a way of expressing yourself?

My earliest memory would be about my grandfather who wrote poetry. His poetry pseudonym was Trimmer. He was an upholsterer and he worked on the upholstery for aeroplanes in the Second World War. He wrote poetry, and he would write poems for big family events. All of my birthday cards had poems in them.

When I was around 10 or 11, I started having school assignments where you needed to write a poem, and I would call him up and give him a topic, and he would write a poem for me that I would pass off as my own. And slowly, I started to sit on the phone with him and he would help me write those poems so that by the time I was 12 or 13, the poems were all mine.

I guess you might say that my grandfather taught me to write poetry. What he wrote is extraordinarily different to what I write now but what he taught me was the grounding for my work today.

That suggests you were you were supported at home to write and to express yourself through poetry? What about school, did you get any support there?

The primary school I went to was very well regarded in terms of its literacy and I was a reader and while I’m not sure when I would have started reading poetry, I certainly read a lot and I read anything that was available. There were a lot of books in my house of all kinds and I would pick up books from the library as well.

What about poetry?

I remember a poetry competition when I was in my first year of high school that I won. I was definitely writing quite a lot by that point and there was quite a lot of support while I was in high school. By the time I left high school, I very much considered myself a poet.

Where did you go then? What’s the next stage in your development?

I started going to Poetry Live, which is a poetry event that’s been going since the 1980’s in Auckland, and I met Shane Hollands and Renee Liang and the late Penny Somervaille and lots of other really fabulous Auckland poets and writers at that event.

I started a paper called The Deformed Paper, which was an illustration and poetry broadsheet where I would match up artists and writers. My husband is an artist and he was at arts school at the time I was working on The Deformed Paper, and I’ve always been interested in bringing together artists and writers and bringing together image and text. Making that connection has been pretty fundamental to me and my work.

 If you find out more about Makyla Curtis’ work see the links below –

part three of this interview is here

artist forms link
New Belfast Community Arts Initiative trading as Community Arts Partnership is a registered charity (XR 36570) and a company limited by guarantee (Northern Ireland NI 37645).Registered with The Charity Commission as New Belfast Community Arts Initiative - NIC105169.