Following the recent release of his self-published poetry pamphlet ‘until i see you again’, I spoke to the very talented Christopher Sturtivant about his writing, his influences and Nottingham’s poetry scene. Chris is a second year English with Creative Writing student at the University of Nottingham.
What inspired you to write ‘until i see you again?’
The collection is inspired by my past relationship. They weren’t all written in one big bulk but some of them were written whilst I was with the person, some whilst we were breaking up, and some after we had broken up. The poems are mostly about the weirdness of a first relationship, I wanted to honestly capture the weight and pressure that goes with trying to make a relationship perfect, especially because it was a gay relationship. But I also wanted to capture the wonderful things about falling in love for the first time. The poems are supposed to have that sweetness of vulnerability, as well as the bizarre nature of feeling you are defined by one person. There are some poems in the collection that are about friends, so platonic love along with romantic love.
How was the process of publishing it?
Because it was self-published, I found out about lots of cool stuff online. There’s a poet called Avinash Rambojun, who went to the University of Kent, and self-published an amazing pamphlet of poetry about mental health and relationships. I got in touch with them and found out it was through a website called Blurb.com, where you download an app and completely design the book yourself. I picked all the photos, which I put in there because I wanted it to feel real. You can either sell the book through the Blurb website or choose to sell it through the Retail Directory with retailers like Amazon.
How do you edit, evaluate and improve your work?
I read through a poem immediately after writing it, then leave it for a day or two, and come back and alter it, rearrange lines, play around with the form. I often read my poems aloud because that really helps. I tend to show other people my work too, like my best friend, Fae, who is a brilliant poet, and other students in workshops.
How do you find the balance of studying and writing in your spare time?
I think the two compliment each other well. Since my degree includes Creative Writing, the workshops are constantly informing what you do. Reading such a variety of texts on our course helps to inspire my poetry and has introduced me to a wide range of poets. Studying the subject and having the pressure of deadlines forces you to write.
What kind of poetry/spoken word events have you been involved with?
The event I have most frequently been involved with is called Poetry is Dead Good, which happens every month, and the month before last I was the headline for it which was cool. These kinds of events are good because you get a sense of how an audience responds to your poems. I think Nottingham has a really good poetry scene, there is such a variety of people, and they make everyone feel so comfortable to perform.
Are there any events that you would like to be involved with in the future?
The University’s Poetry Society has an event called Clickbait on Tuesday 5th December at Jam Café. Ashley, the Secretary of the Society, is an amazing poet, and she will be headlining. There’ll be an open mic too so I’ll join in with that. Last year their events were always really fun.
Is there any particular poet that you aspire to?
One of my favourite poets is Leonard Cohen, and I have a poem about him in my collection. I enjoy his poetry because there is a lot of simplicity and realism to it. He manages to achieve emotional resonance without being too over the top. The way he uses imagery is really interesting, he uses both poetic images and down to earth images. Some of my poems have pretty images contrasted with more grotesque and weird images, so there is a bit of duality. I think it’s a tension that works and gives poetry more honesty.
What advice would you give to other young poets about writing and getting their work out there for people to read?
First of all, I would say just read and write. The only way you’re going to get better is by writing about whatever the hell you want and slowly realising what works and what doesn’t. No one is ever a perfect writer. I think to get an audience you should share your work in a place that you feel comfortable, like a society, or online through social media. YouTube is great, my friend Anna Lambert has a YouTube channel where she reads her poetry aloud, which is really good. Also listening to music helps, it can be any kind of music, but the lyrics can really get you going.
Chris’ book – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1389784754/ref=tsm_1_fb_lk
Chris’ blog – https://poets.media/authors/christopher-sturtivant
Avinash Rambojun’s book – still : life https://the-dots.com/users/avinash-rambojun-237667
Anna’s YouTube channel – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2pBDVheNC2a4POGDgu_o6w
Anna’s blog – https://annalambertwrites.wordpress.com/
Featured image courtesy of Christopher Sturtivant