Writer Of The Week: Susannah White

writer of the week

Our Writer of the Week is poet Susannah White!

You can read her atmospheric poem ‘The Fire Bowl’ in Special #230, on sale from Wednesday 17 August, 2022.

What inspired your poem, ‘The Fire Bowl’?

Last year my husband bought me a fire bowl for our garden. I loved the idea of sitting around it chatting with family and friends or staring meditatively into the flames.

At first, it was difficult to light as it was often smoky, but I’ve got the hang of it now. Using hedge trimmings as fuel was a bad idea as there was too much sap in the wood. 

What do you like about writing poetry? Is it your favourite form of writing?

I think of each poem as a snapshot, capturing the essence of a place, experience or person. Most of my poems, including ‘The Fire Bowl’ recall pleasant sensual experiences and aim to evoke these for the reader.

I love the economy of verse and it is definitely my favourite form of writing.

How do you know when your poem is finished and ready to submit?

I let each new poem sit for a few days before I edit it. This allows me to distance myself from the work.

I read my poems aloud before submitting them (to ensure that they flow, rhyme and scan).

Which writers are you inspired by the most?

The Romantic poets: Keats and Wordsworth. Their work captures the beauty of nature and expresses feelings of awe and wonder which I share.

Do you use pen and paper, or computer to write? Or do you use a mix of both?

I draft my poems using a pen and paper then edit them on a laptop. I carry a small notebook in my handbag in case inspiration strikes when I am out and about.

If you were stranded on a desert island, which book or collection of poetry would you take with you?

I would take Robert Louis Stevenson’s ‘A Child’s Garden of Verse’ as this collection fostered my love of poetry. If I was alone on an island, I would find it comforting to read these old favourites.

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

Study the poems in the “Friend”, notice their themes (often joyful and uplifting), observe their form and patterns, then harmonise your own ideas and experiences with these elements.

Read more interviews with our writers 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.