Nottingham’s thriving poetry scene is a melting pot for local poets, drawing in performers from neighbouring cities and beyond, including the magical Charlotte Lunn. After her performance at Hockley Hustle, I caught up with Charlotte to chat all things poetry and spoken word.
Q: You’ve performed at a range of events in Nottingham: from headlining Poetry is Dead Good to performing in Hockley Hustle and Nottingham Poetry Festival. What do you like best about the poetry scene here in Nottingham?
Charlotte: Whether it’s a smaller audience or the room is brimming, the atmosphere is always inviting. The Nottingham poetry community is so respectful and supportive. I would call them my poetry family.
There’s no shortage when it comes to poetry nights either: Poetry is Dead Good, Between the Shadow and the Soul, Psst!, as well as Crosswords and various nights that The Big White Shed put on. The city is bustling with talent so I’m constantly being exposed to other poets and their work which is wonderful.
Q: Having performed alongside many Nottingham-based poets, are there any in particular who inspire your poetry writing or performances?
Charlotte: Every single Nottingham-based poet is unique and each one has inspired me in some way. If I had to name a few in particular, I would say Kaia (Kat) Hristova, Milla Tebbs and Chris Mcloughlin for the way they’re able to convey raw emotion.
“The city is bustling with talent”
Q: What made you decide to start performing poetry at open mics?
Charlotte: I’ve been petrified of public speaking all my life. As a poet, I realised the main way to reach an audience was to use my voice, plus I wanted to stretch my comfort zone and move past my fear. I tried performing back in 2014 which sent me even further into my shell. Despite this, I continued attending open mics and watching how people did it.
I also started running the Book Club at Scarthin Books which helped me to build on my confidence in speaking to a group. I then joined the Notts Writers and went to their critique sessions which helped me to read my work out to a small group and gain useful feedback to improve it further. I put my name into a lucky dip open mic at Poetry is Dead Good at the beginning of this year, was picked to perform and never looked back.
Q: Do you have any words of encouragement or advice for other poets looking to perform in the local area?
Charlotte: There are various writing groups you can join like Notts Writers mentioned earlier and Nottingham Writers Studio. This is a great way to meet like-minded people, develop your writing and build yourself up to performing if you’re nervous. Get yourself to as many poetry nights as possible. Listen to the performances. Chat to the poets. You’ll never be made to feel uncomfortable for testing the waters. Poetry is Dead Good was the first place I performed at this year and everyone was very encouraging.
“You’ll never be made to feel uncomfortable for testing the waters”
Q: The themes of your poetry are often drawn from your personal life: from previous relationships to sales jobs and doctor’s appointments. How do you find using such personal sources?
Charlotte: There’s something very powerful about vulnerability. It enables you to connect with others, acknowledge challenges and unpleasant/traumatic experience, to work through it and create awareness about various things such as Mental Health. It’s an emotional process at times but what’s the point if not to be real.
Q: Many of your poems also focus upon the position of women in contemporary society and mental health. Are these subject matters something you’ve specifically chosen to focus upon? Or do themes emerge during the writing process of a poem?
Charlotte: I definitely think they are important topics that need to be discussed but I wouldn’t say I set out with the intention to write about a specific subject. Poetry is very much a feeling for me and the things I care about shine through when writing.
“Inspiration tends to steer me rather than the discipline to sit down and write”
Q: How would you describe your writing process?
Charlotte: Inspiration tends to steer me rather than the discipline to sit down and write. Saying this, immersing myself in the poetry world incites a regular writing routine, whether that’s attending/running workshops, performing/going to open mics or reading poetry. I used to have a bad habit of trying to edit whilst writing and would end up with little on the page. I try to get everything down first now and then go back to edit straight after or at a later date.
Q: Alongside performing your poetry, you’ve also facilitated poetry writing workshops and run an open mic. Which do you prefer: running events or performing?
Charlotte: Running events definitely involves more organisation, planning and marketing than performing does. But I find both equally as fulfilling. Each means you get to be in a room of people that are just as passionate about poetry as you are and there is something really magical about that.
Charlotte Lunn is a Derbyshire-based poet. Outside her day job, she co-hosts Scarthin Books’ bookclub. She regularly performs spoken word poetry and runs writing workshops. For details regarding Charlotte’s upcoming performances and workshops, drop by her Facebook page.
Featured and article images taken at Hockley Hustle, courtesy of LFM photography.
Article image courtesy of Scarthin Books via Facebook.
Image use licence here.