Stirred Poetry's Literary Heroes
Who are your literary heroes? Manchester-based poetry collective Stirred Poetry actively make work inspired by theirs. Here, they tell us about some of the writers they admire
In the pages of fiction, heroes go through a series of predetermined stages: pride, rise, fall, catharsis. And yet, throughout their inevitable decline, a glimmer of allure and appeal remains.
Inspired by Stirred Poetry’s mode of creating new work by reflecting on the work of great female writers and artists, we asked members of the collective to pick their literary heroes.
The Skinny’s Books team joined in, too – you can read their choices here.
Stirred Poetry’s literary heroes
Everybody check out the work of Keisha Thompson, the extraordinarily talented local poet and performer who wrote the acclaimed solo show I Wish I Had a Moustache, which debuted last year. Lyrical, honest and brilliant writing. [Lenni Sanders]
Live in Manchester long enough and you will have encountered the poems of Lemn Sissay. They are woven into the very structure of Manchester, most notably on pavements and buildings throughout the city. When I first moved here I lived near his poem Rain above Gemini Takeaway on Wilmslow Road, and it inspired me to change the way I write poems.
Jackie Kay’s poetry is wonderful. She wrote the poetry collection The Adoption Papers (1991), and also an autobiographical novel about finding her birth parents, Red Dust Road (2010). If you are lucky enough to see her read you will never regret it. She is a delight!
Rosie Garland commands the stage fully whether she is performing poetry, playing with her punk band March Violets or hosting cabaret. I learned stage craft watching her perform. Her novels, Palace of Curiosities (2013) and Vixen (2015), have been highly praised. She is particularly inspiring when she talks about the long, hard slog of writing, getting published, and managing to shut up her inner critic. We have been honoured to have her perform for us. [Anna Percy]
Another great local talent is Newcastle-based AJ McKenna, a highly influential poet and writer whose show Howl of the Bantee premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe last year and examined the link between lad culture and hate crime. Her work is radical and political, and her articles for pop culture blog Clarissa Explains Fuck All are a joy to read. She’s clever, hard-hitting, and doesn’t hold any punches when it comes to calling society out for its messed-up views.
For me, and many people, Margaret Atwood is one of the most important writers alive today. It would be impossible to write about my literary heroes without including her. In Oryx and Crake (2003), particularly, she treads that delicate line between genre fiction and literary fiction perfectly while also predicting a way-too-accurate future for the human race. When she last visited Manchester I caught a rare glimpse of her at Piccadilly station, but didn’t approach her out of fear – what could I possibly say? But it’s still a great ambition of mine to meet her one day. [Jasmine Chatfield]