Meeting Maya Pieris, Hysteria 2017 poetry category judge

Maya Pieris is one of the judges for the Hysteria 2017 poetry category. She has had poems and prose published in the South Poetry anthologies, Dorset Voices, This Little World (Dorset Writers Network), the 2015 Canterbury Poetry Festival anthology, Poems From the Oak Room ed. Annie Freud, Emma Press (due out next year), Narrative Thread pub by Bridport Story Traders, the East Coker Poets occasional anthologies and got a commended from the Winchester Literary Festival.

She also won a play award from the Tacchi Morris Arts Centre, Taunton, for her first play about a strike by female networkers in 1912. At the moment she is working with three other local play writers on producing comic sketches for a local amateur dramatic company, will be reading in Chichester for South Poetry and and is currently putting her first poetry anthology together.

Which poets or writers inspire you and why?

Philip Larkin is probably my dessert island poet-I love his accessibility and brilliant use of language and his melancholy which disguised another Larkin. I’m also a growing fan of Emily Dickenson and Walt Whitman who were such radical poets and really like contemporary poets John Hegley, Annie Freud, Greta Stoddart, Mark Doty, David Briggs and Lorraine Marriner. Again they are all accessible poets writing with humour and tragedy as bedfellows and in command of their language and styles.

Are you a library lover, a bookshop bird or an on-line owl?

Mostly a bookshop lover- always have been because my parents were. And I like to dip in when I’m ready which is why I find book clubs hard. I try to support my local indie bookshop and secondhand bookshop as I do find the “pile them” high approach of the high street chains can be off putting. But I do use libraries mostly for research purposes though I also borrow- have now mastered the self service check out!

How did you get started?

Creative writing was always a favourite lesson at primary school and I missed its presence at secondary school where it got pushed out by exam requirements. I did, however, continue to mess about with words and workshops but it’s only been in the last 6 years since moving to Bridport that I’ve really pursued it seriously and had prose, poetry and some journalism published.

What advice would you give your younger writing self?

To be more confident that other’s advice can be valuable but also to be true to your own writing self. And to keep going like Emily Dickinson. And always write for yourself first.

Are there some themes you enjoy more than others?

I’m assuming this relates to my own writing. Writers are pirates, magpies and plunder where appropriate! I, like many, plunder myself but always try to see my experiences and feelings in a more “global” way- people don’t want to read a therapy poem or piece of prose! So the themes I often return to in my poetry are quite internal and often melancholic and concerned with quite hard or poignant situations. In my prose I can be more humorous and also macabre!

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