Tell me about you, as an artist. How do you define art? What art do you make?
Art is a way of seeing the world through different philosophies/parameters/dimensions. I make art using any method or process that fits my subject matter, it can be poetry, Live Art, Installation, Transmedia storytelling or a protest performance.
Your newest poetry collection, Fossil was published by Peepal Tree Press in 2016 and explores the impact of climate change. What do you hope readers take away from your book both creatively and in terms of their outlook on the environment and our impact upon it?
Poetry offers readers a different way to explore the ideas and issues around climate change. Many people feel that climate change is ‘happening somewhere else’ or ‘is real but not a reality to me’, by using poetry to explore this area I aim to connect readers with the world they live in, and allow them to explore their relationship to climate change and its potential impacts on their lives.
In 2017 yourself and Kooj Chuhan were selected for our Digital Commissions. Together you produced an Augmented Reality project, titled Heritage Carrot. What inspired the creation of the piece? What do you enjoy about collaborating on digital writing projects?
Rather than a visual interpretation of poetic language, or an illustration of the poem, this immersive experience takes the audience through the layers of my poem Heritage Carrot. The poem uses the metaphor of digging to allow the audience to use augmented reality to both interact with the poem and their surroundings simultaneously. The piece was inspired by the story of how carrots migrated from Persia to England over the last five thousand years. Digital writing utilises more than one medium, for example film, sound, coding so I enjoy expressing myself through a poem that is then translated into film, and back into poetry through the layers of augmented reality.
You’ve recently been commissioned by Diverse Actions and received funding from Future’s Venture Foundation to develop two new projects that use augmented reality to explore food as a dining experience as well as on a global scale, and where justice lies within this. When did you begin making art that was heavily driven by environment and politics? Do you think that art always carries some sort of political charge? What do you hope audiences take away from these two projects when they’ve experienced them?
I have always made political art and have fought for injustice from the age of seven. Art doesn’t have to always be political, but looking at art can be a mirror reflecting your view of the world which I see as political. With these two immersive projects I want the audience to experience the art and the food simultaneously, the works play with the senses and by doing so I hope to activate an audience to think more deeply about where their food has come from and its impacts on the planets’ resources.
From September you’ll be running an online course for the Poetry School exploring how to create digital poetry. What do you believe are the essential components of starting out with digital poetry and what do enjoy about teaching writers this art form?
A willingness to experiment with form and adaptability in terms of your starting point are two essentials when creating digital poetry. I enjoy teaching this because I’m passionate about digital poetry – it offers a different poetic experience for an audience drawing as it does from a myriad of digital approaches, processes and methods.
You’ve been a writer with Commonword for many years and your work has been published in a number of books. What have you enjoyed most about your time with us and how has it helped you grow as a writer?
I have enjoyed your longevity, being part of a writers’ community, the variety of events you produce, and commissions offered. These have helped me over the years with both with the craft of writing and supporting me as a writer.
If you could offer a piece of advice to your younger self about being in the arts industry, what would it be?
That I can be good without being a perfectionist!
Where can we find your work?
My website is: www.interactiveartist.org/
My blog: http://poetrees.tumblr.com/
What does the future hold for you in your writing career?
I am very excited by the possibilities opened up by new technologies such as augmented reality and projection mapping and using that within and through my writing.
Sum up your experience thus far in one word