Writer Of The Week: Kathryn Sennen

writer of the week

Our Writer Of The Week is Kathryn Sennen. You can read her poem, ‘First Flurry’ in The Fireside Book 2023, on sale now.

Can you tell us a little bit about what inspires your poetry?

I’m inspired by the everyday, little things in life. Hanging out the washing, packing to go on a trip, struggling with a crossword, are just a few examples.

Becoming a Step-Grandma has given me lots of ideas. Either directly from my own grandson or after listening to other grandparents.

Have you always wanted to be a published writer? How did you get to where you are today?

I don’t think I thought about being published when I was scribbling poetry in my teens but I’ve always liked messing with words. In Junior School, I remember writing a ‘book’ (two sheets of A4 folded together). I was very proud of it.

I completed a Creative Writing Correspondence Course back in the late 1980s and had a story published in two D.C.Thomson magazines, “Secrets” and “Jackie”.

However, life (but mainly my lack of confidence) distracted me from writing. It wasn’t until I retired in 2014 that I started to write regularly again.

It’s a fluke that my first piece to be published in the “Friend” was a poem, not a story. I’d read a poem in a Special in 2018 by “Friend” poet, Maggie Ingall, about being unable to get a tune out of her head all day long. I loved it and thought I’d have a go myself.

I wrote a poem about rationing myself to just one square of chocolate a day, sent it off and it was accepted. What a great feeling that was!

Do you keep a notebook of ideas?

I have a pretty A5 organiser with sections for the “Friend”, flash fiction, competitions, and so on, where I jot down ideas appropriate to each genre.

I’m a bit of a butterfly, flitting from one project to another so I need somewhere I can store ideas effectively.

If you could give your past self one piece of writing advice, what would it be?

Have confidence in yourself. I’ve spent decades thinking I’m not good enough or that I have nothing new to say. Maybe ‘maturity’ has taught me to stop worrying and just enjoy writing.

You recently had your first short story accepted as well! How did that feel?

Amazing! All those years ago, after “Secrets” and “Jackie”, I was left with an ambition to write stories for the “Friend” but I could never get further than the first few paragraphs of a story before the self-doubt came back and I would just tear up the pages.

I’m absolutely delighted and still doing my happy dance!

Have you read a book or poetry collection this year that you would love to recommend?

The Rain in Portugal“, a collection of poetry by former US Poet Laureate Billy Collins. Clever, thought-provoking and uplifting poetry, but none of it rhymes!

As a rule, I don’t think poetry is poetry unless it rhymes, which is why I love the poems in the “Friend”.

Finally, what’s your top tip for aspiring “Friend” writers?

Read, read, read the “Friend”, that way you’ll get to know your readers in the same way you get to know your friends, by listening to their stories.

Read more interviews from our writers and illustrators here.

Abigail Phillips

Abbie is the newest member of the fiction team at the "Friend." She loves how varied the role is - every day is different and there is always a new story to read. She is keen to work closely with established writers and discover new writers, too.