This week's Poet of Instagram is none other than NZ poet Shannan Wiltshire! I am so excited to have her on the blog because I have been a fan of her work for a LONG time and I am super jealous of her because she is doing the degree I wish I was doing. I can't wait for you to read this great interview and be exposed to this great talent.
I am from a little slice of paradise called Mount Maunganui, a coastal town in New Zealand. I am just about to start my fourth year of study at the University of Waikato, specialising in English Literature, History and dance. The arts have always been my passion and I cannot wait to finish my degree, get lost in Europe and finally get to see the things I have been studying!
You and I have the same dream. I love getting lost in Europe (I did once actually). So, when did you start creating poetry? Tell us a little about your journey.
I have been writing for as long as I can remember. I’ve always found it a really necessary escape from reality, and I excelled in it at school. It wasn’t until starting university where I went through a lot of big life changes that I started actually working seriously at it, taking relevant courses and learning techniques.
The massive upheaval of starting a new life and everything along with that really changed the way I wrote, and with each difficult obstacle, my writing actually got better. I still feel that my work is growing every single day.
How would you describe your poetry?
Since I haven’t been writing seriously for very long, I’ve tried to not be confined into any style, and just see where things go. I go through phases of writing long poetry, heavy with imagery and rhyme, and sometimes I love just writing short and simple pieces.
That is what I like most about your poetry. It is so succinct and to the point, yet so utterly whimsical at the same time. What inspires such beautiful poetry?
My poetry has always seemed to be heavily focussed on naivety and transformation; particularly the complexities of transitioning from a kid into an adult. This mainly includes my experiences of young love, hurt, and the loss of innocence, and the tone usually reflects this naïve voice, giving it a wide-eyed but whimsical approach. I’ve also noticed that I draw a lot of inspiration from nature, particularly the ocean, the sky and the earth.
They are such beautiful and raw things to take inspiration from. What is the process you take to write your poetry?
From university I have learnt that you cannot just sit down and force yourself to write if you aren’t in the proper mindset. Sometimes I can’t seem to write for days, and on others I am completely overloaded with ideas. I use small notebooks and I jot a lot down on my phone when I am out and about. I seem to be the most proactive when I am trying to sleep.
I completely agree, I have days like that also. Why did you start your Instagram account?
I started my Instagram so I could connect with other writers. Sometimes living in New Zealand feels very isolating, and it has been so amazing connecting with people across the world. My lecturers always tell us that if you want to be a good writer you need to be a good reader, and it is really cool being able to read poetry from so many different people, from really talented newcomers to everyone’s favourites, like Lang Leav and Christopher Poindexter.
Yes, those guys are excellent! Why is sharing your poetry special to you?
I think many people (like myself) find the idea of sharing writing publicly very daunting, but I know it is necessary so I can grow as an artist. Since I started my Instagram last year, my writing has changed and improved so much. It’s also special because I have reached out to a lot of young people, who have contacted me and have been very supportive of my writing, giving me a lot more confidence.
That is amazing! The IG community of writers is just wonderful. What do you want people to take from your poetry?
Whatever they need. If they just want a brief escape from reality, that’s fine. I love reassuring people that they are not alone, and when someone says that they have connected with my writing because they are going through the same experience, it feels so rewarding knowing that I have connected with them at such a vulnerable level.
What are the top three favourite poems you have written and why?
I have always struggled with questions like this, and I seem to change my opinion regarding how I am feeling at the time. I love when writing comes effortlessly, which is what happened with these three-
I am actually publishing my first book of poetry through 451 Press, an imprint of Underwater Mountains. I fell in love with the company as soon as I found them on Instagram, and to think that I am publishing through them still feels crazy.
Woah! That is fantastic, congratulations! I can’t wait to see it. What other plans do you have for the future in terms of your poetry?
Right now I am working on finishing my manuscript, and hope to have the book released early next year.
That is just amazing, I am so happy for you! I wish you all of the success in the world with the upcoming release of your new poetry book. 451 Press is truly a great publisher for poets and other creative. I know you will go far with your poetry. Thank you so much for doing this interview with me.
If you want to follow Shannan’s progress with her poetry and read more of her amazing work her instagram is @shannanwiltshire