We are handing this blog space over to the winner of this year's Digital Slam, Stephen Watt from Dumbarton. Check out his winning StAnza Digital Slam performance at http://stanzapoetry.wordpress.com/2014/08/12/2014-stanza-digital-slam-re....
In this post, Stephen tells us a little about his background, his favourite poets and what he's doing performance wise in the lively poetry and spoken work scene.
Social realism, punk, story-telling, romance, and nostalgia; in a way, these are the things which drive me. If I could write something as masterly as (Carol Ann) Duffy’s “Queen Kong” or as spirited as (John) Cooper-Clarke’s “Beasley Street”, then I would plant a flag in it and begin my own niche.
I am from Dumbarton, on the outskirts of Glasgow. At the age of 19, I began writing poetry into a little notebook after listening to a bin lorry roll down my parent’s street. Within six months, I had been assaulted by drug addicts on two occasions – once with a needle held to my face, the other with a knife pressed into my neck. My counsellor advised that the writing was an excellent form of therapy, and so I continued to write a number of poems around this time. As a very shy and quiet child, it was an easy thing for me to spend time alone with my own thoughts, writing, dreaming, thinking..... Quite often using music to influence my mood, whilst listening to the wistful lyrics of Ian Dury, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Mark E Smith and Seething Wells to list a few.
My grandfather had been a poet, writing a book of personal love poems to my grandmother in 1937. I never knew this until my mum alerted me to the fact this book existed – and was written when he was 19 – the same age that I had began writing. It was then I slowly began to come out of my shell. I would watch people around Dumbarton and Glasgow, exaggerating their characters to fill taboo subjects such as brothels, rent boys, domestic violence, etc. Small press magazines across the UK published a number of my poems about these subjects. Having gained confidence during my twenties from this relative success, and with an exceptional circle of friends supporting my writing, I ventured into the literary / spoken word scene in Glasgow in 2010 – nearly a full decade after I had first began scribbling down my thoughts. Since then, things really lifted off. I travelled to Peterborough in 2011 to beat 8,000 entrants by winning the Poetry Rivals Slam, earning a one book publishing contract with Bonacia Ltd, and releasing my debut collection “Spit” one year later. Further awards both on page and stage have been achieved over the last two years but perhaps the greatest satisfaction of all is the number of inspiring, exciting, and inventive poets emerging from Scotland, encompassing all ages and creeds, seemingly all at the same time. It is something I enjoy being part of enormously, and challenges the old caveat that poetry is a one person game.
I have just finished performing at a number of magazine launches and festivals across the country, but should anyone wish to follow me or keep an eye on what happens next, then they can find my ‘Spit’ poetry pages on Facebook and Twitter at: