One of the great things about the vibrant poetry scene in my home town of Walsall is that I get to meet and listen to a lot of talented new poets starting their poetry journey. Sarah Battison was one of those poets who I had the privilege of meeting earlier this year, her poetry was raw and powerful and she bought the open mic to its knees with her words. Now she has her first poetry collection – The Journey to Happiness – available I thought it would be great to catch up with her for a chat.
Q. Congratulations on the publication of your debut poetry collection The Journey to Happiness, would you mind letting readers know what inspired the title and what they can expect to find within the book?
A. When I was just 16 I featured in a drug and alcohol special on Midlands today for being a young drinker. After I completed my interview the reporter asked me what my plans were for the future. Even back then I knew I wanted to write The Journey to Happiness and the title just stuck with me ever since. The book is about the battles I have faced in my life, the struggles, the trials and all the times I felt like giving up. For me this was a journey, one that so far seemed never-ending, but I knew it was happiness that I wanted to find. The title of this book is representative of the search I have been completing , the search for acceptance, for truth, for love and most importantly the search for happiness.
Q. I know you only recently started to perform your poetry at events, what made you want to get out there and share your poetry and what tips do you have for poets thinking of taking the same steps?
A. To be honest Richard the reason I first began showing my face on the poetry scene was for my own healing processes. I had just come out of a devastatingly damaging relationship and was trying to overcome many of my emotional issues by sharing them out loud. This process became so helpful for my own mental health that I decided to continue attending events and sharing my poetry. I had always hidden my love for writing, writing in secret and I knew that it was the right time to start letting people see and hear my words. As soon as I began sharing I knew that it was something I was always meant to do, everyone I have met so far has been so friendly and offered nothing but words of encouragement.
What would I say to new poets? I would say, don’t hesitate in going to these sort of events. They are such a friendly bunch of people who share the same love of words, everyone listens, everyone encourages and the feeling you get when people approach you afterwards to tell you how much they liked your piece or how much they relate is magnificent. Honestly, do it yesterday!
Q. Would you mind telling us a little about your favourite poem in the book, what inspired it and why it’s your favourite?
A. I think one of my favourite poems in the book is called ‘Escaping my wrong love’. The reason I love this piece so much is because this is actually one of my more recent poems which was written for a poetry slam in Stafford. It was my first attempt at a slam and I actually came second place! The content of this piece was honestly so hard for me to write, but now when I read it back I love it because it tells everyone exactly how I feel. It was based on the theme of ‘escape’ and I think even just reading this poem out loud gave me some inner peace. This is one of the first poems I have done where I have tried to use internal rhyme and I love the way it flows from the tongue. Definitely one of the ones I am proud of !
Q. When did you start to write poetry, who or what were your influences and who are your favourite poets?
A. I started writing poetry when I was about 6 years old, writing little poems in my bedroom at night! As I got older I took more of an interest in stories so poems kind of took a back seat. When I began my University degree and learnt a little more about poetic devices I was inspired to take up poetry again and have been writing them daily since then.
Having suffered with mental health problems such as anxiety and depression for most of my life this has always been at the forefront of my poetry topics. I tend to find that as soon as my pen touches the paper most of my inner feelings come out and most of my poetry tends to be quite dark.
In terms of inspiration, I have always loved the poem ‘Spellbound’ by Emily Bronte, I believe it is one of the only poems she ever wrote and something just sang to me from that piece, I have loved it ever since. I have always liked Carol Ann Duffy and Wordsworth. Another 2 poets who inspired me to begin my journey into spoken word were Rudy Francisco and Sabrina Benaim, their words evoked deep emotions in me and I found myself binge watching their videos.
Q. Now the book is out what are your future plans poetry wise?
A.I intend to market this book as much as I can because I want these words to be out there. I have been through many experiences that have nearly ended my life but I came out the other side and I want this experience to help others, motivate and inspire others and to say, you can get through this if you fight! I also want to look at creating ‘The Journey to Happiness’ as a novel version in the future. In terms of my poetry, I intend to sharpen my spoken word skills and attend as many events as I can, as well as submitting my pieces to many journals and literary magazines . I am already making notes on a new collection, one that I hope will be published through a publisher rather than self-publishing. Either way, I am going nowhere and intend to stick around on the poetry scene for a long time!!
Q. Where can folk find you and your book online?
A. The book can be found on Amazon here. It is available as a paperback version for £9.99 and also on Kindle for an introductory price of £2.99.
I also regularly update my WordPress blog which can be found at : livelifewithsarah.wordpress.com
I just want to say, if anyone reads my book and would like to have a chat, whether this be about the book itself or maybe they have some relatable issues and need some advice, you can contact me on any of the above channels and I will always be willing to listen.
Much love, Sarah xx
Thank you Sarah for taking the time out to answer my questions, I recently finished reading The Journey to Happiness and can certainly recommend it as a powerful debut collection of poetry, why not give it a try.