Nottingham Poetry Festival: Wendy Cope

18 April 17 interview: LeftLion

Known for her dry wit and keen eye for parody, Wendy Cope has been a staple of British poetry since her debut in the eighties. We caught up with Wendy ready for her appearance at this year’s poetry festival.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I grew up in Kent and read history at St Hilda's College Oxford. After that I worked as a primary school teacher in London, eventually becoming a deputy head. My first books was published in 1986. Shortly after that I gave up teaching and went freelance.

Where do you think your love of language came from?
I read a lot as a child. I enjoyed English at school. In my teenage years I saw a lot of Shakespeare plays. That must have had some effect.

What are some of the themes you like touching on in your poetry?
I've written a lot of poems about men and relationships and quite a few literary jokes – parodies and so on. These days I often find myself writing about old age and death.

You write a lot about the importance of good psychiatric health. Do you think this is something that poetry can help to improve?
I think writing - prose or poetry - can help people to sort out how they are feeling and to pin down exactly what it is that is making them unhappy.

Can you tell us a bit about what you’re doing during the poetry festival?
I'll be reading some new poems. They will be in my forthcoming collection "Anecdotal Evidence", to be published next year. I'll read some old ones as well. And I'll leave time for questions because I enjoy interacting with the audience.

Are you looking forward to the poetry festival?
Yes.

Do you have any writing advice for our readers?
If you want to be any good at writing, you have to read. If you want to be any good at writing poetry, you have to read it.  

Wendy Cope’s reading, featuring appearances from Stephen Lowe and Lily Myers-Lowe, will be held at Waterstones on the 22nd of April at 3PM.

Waterstones website

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