Nicky recently won first prize for her poem “The Exit Home” at the Mosman Youth Awards in Literature. I sat down with her over a coffee and we chatted about how it felt to win, what inspires her to write and how she handles a poet’s worst nightmare – the writer’s block. Read on to see what pearls of wisdom she wishes to pass on and to look at her winning piece.
I started writing before I can really remember. When I was younger I used to write in a diary and I used to always play imaginative games with my friends. My dad has always been a good storyteller, but my creativity springs from my mum’s influence.
What do you like to write about?
I love to write about all kinds of subject matters, but particularly the things that I am having difficulty understanding. I am drawn to the polar opposites of complexity and simplicity. I guess creative writing, poetry in particular, is just the way I think. For me, poetry just falls across the page; the words just string themselves into sentences. If they don’t, then it means that the poem is unresolved and needs to be left for a while.
What inspires you to write?
I am definitely inspired by major events that happen in my life, but also by the little observations I make in every day situations. I like to use poetry to transform something mundane into a delicately worded assemblage of ideas.
How do you handle writer’s block?
The best way to combat writer’s block is to accept that sometimes there are just no words, but make sure you are ready for when they finally arrive. I always have a pen at the ready. I have a notepad next to my bed, mainly because my creative thoughts usually emerge right before I go to bed. However, many of my school books are filled with fragments of poetry in the margins, but a notebook is still more ideal.
What inspired ‘The Exit Home”?
This particular work was inspired by the dullness of life in an unrewarding office job. The idea began to unfold in my mind when I was caught in rush hour traffic one evening.
How did you feel winning first place?
I was thrilled to win first place, as for many years I have read the winning poems in complete awe. I don’t think I stopped smiling for days knowing that my piece of writing had reached such a high standard.
What would you like to say to all the young budding authors out there?
My advice to all the young writers out there is to just keep going! Write until you have no more ink left, until there is no more lead left in your pencil, until there are no more pages in your notebook… and then go get some more!
“The Exit Home”
Winner – First Place
Senior Secondary Poetry
A nascent sense of happiness
so promising, so light
warms to an orange hue
with the fall of night.
My heart is pieced together
red as ever, crimson beat
thick veins run like motorways
traffic jams, exhausting heat.
Robotic trees control us
cat’s eyes, they never blink
a piercing green power
indelible, like ink.
Crowded in my office
where milk-greys fill the space
a cloud crushed inside a box
teal droplets of disgrace.
Escaping awful tedium,
deadlines and mistakes
to shelves of purple secrets;
the dreams they cannot take.