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How to be a poet with Joelle Taylor

Joelle founded the UK's national youth slam competition and is the author of three poetry collections.

Our Young Talent recently got the chance to work on their poetry skills with Scotland's international poetry festival StAnza and the award winning poet and playwright Joelle Taylor. We caught up with Joelle to hear her top tips for emerging poets.

What do you love about poetry?

I love that poetry connects people, it's a bridge between hearts and minds.

How do you start a spoken word piece?

Think about poetry as witness. The poetry that you make is a chronicle of the times - you write about what you see, to elevate others, or to highlight things happening in the world. You are the root of everything you write, make sure you are writing from your own experience. Do not dip your pen in another person's blood.

Remember, you're writing when you're not writing - it has to happen in your imagination first. Play music and think about the stories, the images and the feelings that are developing.

Any advice for emerging poets?

Make yourself write! Carve out the space. Especially if you're coming from a background where none of your family or friends are artists, make sure you develop a community of poets and artists around you.

Whatever art you choose, tenacity is key. Work on your craft and remain. There will be times when you can't write at all but there will be other times when it's flowing. Remember that it's like the ocean and it will always be flowing in the right direction.

Read as much as you can. Fail loads and loads. At the heart of all creativity is risk and play - you've got to try things out.

Be brave and go to open mic nights. Open mics are the heart of the spoken word scene. You might be good, you might be terrible, but it doesn't matter because you took the chance to step up to the mic. Everyone there knows exactly how it feels. Check out: Boxed in, Jaw Dance, Apples & Snakes, Poetry Unplugged and Hammer & Tongue.

What's your favourite book?

My favourite book at the moment is 'Don't Call Us Dead' by Danez Smith.

How do you deal with writer's block?

Writer's block is like page fright. Sometimes when you write, you're trying to be brilliant and set such high standards for yourself you can't get past it. I set myself deadlines that would really annoy me if I didn't meet them. Try having a question in your head, flick through a book and pick a line out at random. Use that line to inspire you to write for five minutes non stop.