II. Queer Poets & Poetry

Queer hosts Niamh and Maia talk writing practices, and being inspired by unrequited love, as well as toothpaste tubes. Joined by poet Connor Byrne.
Queer hosts Niamh and Maia talk writing practices, and being inspired by unrequited love and toothpaste tubes. Joined by poet Connor Byrne.
Please note this episode contains explicit language and sexual references. 
Host bios:
Niamh Haran (they/them) is a queer non-binary poet/writer from North London. They are a Roundhouse Poetry Collective alumnus with poems in Bath Magg, Perverse, The Interpreter’s House, The Babel Tower Notice Board and Ink Sweat & Tears among others. They are currently doing an English BA at King’s College London. Twitter: @niamhjerrie Instagram: @niamh.haran
Maia Yolanda Wagener (she/they) is a Dutch/Indian writer and student living in London. An English major, Maia enjoys writing poetry and plays, and hopes to combine academia and playwriting. Twitter: @maiaywagener Instagram: @m.wagener.s
Guest bio:
Connor Byrne is a poet from Brighton, living in London. They write a lot about being queer and trans, and their relationship to others and the world around them. They are a member of the Roundhouse Poetry Collective 2019-21. Twitter: @conrbyrne
Produced by Arden Fitzroy (they/them) @ArdenFitzroy
The RISE Collective 
Twitter: @RiseAmplify 
Instagram: @therisecollectiveuk
Music: Pembroke
Links and references:
Connor Byrne, ‘I am once again going to the big Sainsbury’s just to feel something’ https://www.roundhouse.org.uk/blog/2021/03/we-have-never-seen-something-like-this-poetry-by-the-roundhouse-poetry-collective/
Maia Wagener, ‘Clavicle Hammock’ https://stoneofmadnesspress.com/maia-wagener
We Want It All: An Anthology of Radical Trans Poetics, ed. by Andrea Abi-Karam and Kay Gabriel
Arden: Everybody welcome! You’re listening to the AMPLIFY podcast, brought to you by The RISE Collective. We champion creatives and build collectives at the forefront of social change. I’m Arden Fitzroy, Lead Producer, and this is Queer Joy, the second series of AMPLIFY. This series was created by the next generation of creative leaders and changemakers. These are our own stories, on our own terms.

Niamh: Hello everybody and welcome to Amplify's second episode of the Niamh and Maia show where we Niamh... 

Maia: and Maia...

Niamh: Will be talking about queer stuff.

Maia: We will this episode be talking about some queer poetry, talking about our own influences and processes of writing, as well as interviewing the very, very talented queer poet Connor Byrne. But for now, Niamh, how are you?

Niamh: I’m good. We've just been hanging out with our gay neighbours in the garden.

Maia: Oh we have.

Niamh: And we've got a kitten everybody!

Maia: We do. Jerry.

Niamh: Which we didn't have last episode, when we were recording so yeah Jerry is a little kitten. She is a little monster.

Maia: Before we get on to talking about some poetry. Anyone who's at home, grab yourself a nice coffee, a nice tea a glass of water hydrate yourself.

Niamh: Hydrate yourself!

Maia: If you're on the tube, have a look around you take a moment to observe, look at who's next to you don't look too hard, you know, don't want to offend anyone. But we will be back with you shortly. 

Maia: Welcome back everyone, hopefully you have a nice coffee or tea in hand, we're now going to be talking about some poetry that we've read recently, or that has resurfaced for us. Is there anything that's caught your eye lately, Niamh?

Niamh: Well I recently bought this anthology, which is called, we want it all, an anthology of radical trans poetics and it's edited by Kay Gabriel and Andrea Abi-Karam. I haven't actually dug into it as much as I would have liked to yet but it's because it's quite thick and I'm just waiting until coursework's over I can start reading for pleasure again without the threat of deadlines but it looks really really good, and I've had a lot of people speak about it in a really good way, and it seems quite kind of experimental. So really looking forward to that. I recently read Frannie Choi's collection soft science which is a really really great collection, particularly there was this poem in there called on the election night, which is basically the speaker masturbating on election night, it's just a really great poem. And I also have re read, Sean Hewitt's tongues of fire which is his first collection, he's a queer Irish poet, and that is an amazing collection. It really is really really good and it's just very relaxing for me to read, and I'd love to be able to write like that, you know, especially about nature and I don't even really think of him as a nature poet, but obviously a lot of what he talks about is in the natural world, but yeah. Very interesting. What about you?

Maia: Yeah, I've read a few things for one of my classes actually that I've really enjoyed reading, particularly a poem by Gertrude Stein called Susie Asado, a poem a poem of hers that I hadn't read before, but it's very sensory and there's very little meaning. The meaning is not the most important part of the poem. It's like a soundscape really, you really get into the body of Gertrude Stein, last thing for this answer, and it's very powerful and very assured and I really enjoy reading, And I would like to write like that.

Niamh: Very interesting, sounds nice. Oh yeah and that poem by Franny Choi is called On The Night of the Election. 

Maia: Lovely, be sure to check it out, we'll link it in the show notes.

Niamh: The thing is it's just like it's so easy to kind of get all these collections and get all these books and just not read them, especially at the moment it's like, well I think that kind of lockdown was providing me with kind of all this time to read, and actually I feel I've got so much to get through.

Maia: Yeah, I get what you mean, there's just been books and books and collections that have piled up over the last like yeah, having to read for uni means that there's little time to read for pleasure and while reading is, often pleasurable if you're reading like essays and reports it's not not that fun necessarily.

Niamh: I think it's just because you know you're going to be graded on. 

Maia: Yeah. What about anything that you've written recently, is there anything that you feel encapsulate your voice?

Niamh: There's a poem I wrote a while ago, which is published in the Roundhouse poetry collectives anthology called, we have never seen something like this, and you should definitely check it out because they're all great poets, and there's such an eclectic group of voices that emerge there, and my poem is called calcium surplus and as I'm saying that. I'm reminded that the fact that I needs to go to the bloody dentist. I need to go to the hygienists to get my wisdom teeth checked because they've been killing my mouth recently but anyway, um, so this is actually a sonnet, because it is 14 lines, although that was not on purpose at first, and it's actually for Maia, for you. Yeah so I read that for you. Calcium surplus. My index finger is milky green from the ring you gave me, haven't brushed our teeth for two days and this is my only chance to experience calcium surplus. Luckily, my sister gave us a seal bag of toothpaste from her tube. If that's not familial love I don't know what it is. But my love for you is as thick as sunblock as clear as antihistamine, perhaps the least of those now that plants, you've got me mean something about nurturing the self, because I think I look after you, just fine. 

Maia: How lovely. Because it's about me. 

Niamh: Yeah, lovely, these things actually did happen by the way, this is not, you know total fiction. My sister did give us a sealed bag of toothpaste from her tube.

Maia: Yeah, in Stuttgart we went to visit her and didn't have toothpaste, of course, so she gave us a Ziplock bag of Colgate toothpaste, and we spent the week, sticking our toothbrush in that ziplock bag.

Niamh: Yeah, I mean we're not very prepared I think it's quite funny because actually also that poem. For me, when we went to see her. It was like so she was doing her year abroad there and working and I was just like, oh my god like she's such an adult, you know, like what what are we doing just kind of moving around and, yeah, it kind of hurt, even just kind of having a tube of toothpaste, not kind of like very adult thing, or so it seems to be so I feel like that kind of came in there as well. And while we were there in Germany, I did have various kind of allergic reactions and I was very sensitive to certain creams, I think. And so you had to give me some antihistamine tablets and things like that.

Maia: You say allergic I say eczema.

Niamh: Eczema, you say allergic, I say eczema 

Maia: allergic

Niamh: Eczema, and also those plants that you got me, these two plants. Last year in January, and they just died.

Maia: They did very much die. Yeah, but I do I do really love that poem I think it's, it's a really great way to show you and the way you're like, I love your poetry because of how fragmented, it is. It's like all these moments and memories. Kind of fitted together, and they don't necessarily always seem related but they always work. 

Niamh: Thank you very much, so do you want to read something as well? 

Maia: Sure, yeah, I'll read a poem called clavicle hammock, which was inspired by well I actually wrote it in the first lockdown, I was thinking I'm often thinking about Anne Carson's Autobiography of Red, and...

Niamh: It does worry me. 

Maia: I think I recommend it to many people. I was thinking about it a lot, and I was also thinking about Plato's Allegory of the Cave and something connected both of them in my mind. 

Niamh: First of all, how do you say, alle-

Maia: allegory that's how I say I think a lot of people say allegory.

Niamh: I think it is allegory, but when I read it allegory, when I read it in my head, But anyway, why don't you explain what this Plato's cave is?

Maia: It's actually Plato's allegory. So in essence, there is a cave, and people live in it, and it's all they know. And one day one of them, explores and finds the outside, and he comes back and tells everyone and thinks that they should basically go out there, but everyone is quite happy to stay in the cave and they kill him. So I guess it's a kind of ignorance is bliss state of denial allegory, it's very interesting, and it wasn't so much the story, as the image of like a cave and kind of wandering through this cave towards light that really inspired me, and, yeah.

Niamh: Someone wrote a poem about you, talking about light wasn't it?

Maia: Oh someone did.

Niamh: Idiots. 

Maia: I come from a city in Holland called The Hague and it's quite small, and there's this guy who notoriously wanders around in the evenings and allegedly he writes poems for people, but maybe he writes them in batches and just reads them out.

Niamh: That's what I thought like I got that one last week, had that one last month.

Maia: I was out with my friend, a few years a go and he came up to us and read us a poem that he'd written, and in Dutch it was "jullie hebben de dingen niet nodig om te kunnen zien, maar de dingen hebben jullie nodig om gezien te kunnen worden", which is like

Niamh: Translation please. 

Maia: You don't need things to see, but people need you to be seen. This poem clavicle hammock is nothing like that. But here it is, you can find it on Stone of Madness press. Clavicle hammock. cyan sky matted with thoughts of drinking  cordial from the corners of your limbs pooling  in the flesh of your clavicle hammock i rest  and ask what a child’s limbs are made for if not to be broken  perhaps to bend into shape a crowbar or hammer  used to hammer mother’s clavicle to the mantel and kiss her  metatarsal bones before resting   in a hammock under God i will sleep   under blankets made of a torn woman’s muscle stitched   filaments fingering the webbing of my toes like a violin   stringing to the drum of cordial dripping on hardwood   floors of my rib cage corridor i sleep  and dream of steel crowbars and cordial sweet. 

Niamh: That was very beautiful. 

Maia: Thank you

Niamh: You used to break your bones quite a lot. 

Maia: Oh, I really did 100% 

Niamh: Yeah you gotta be careful. You hurt your back one time, remember?

Maia: oh I hit my back on the table. But yeah, I really enjoyed writing this poem, and I enjoy reading it.

Niamh: I remember when you read it to me first I was like what did those words mean? What was that one metatarsal?

Maia: Oh yeah the feet bones. 

Niamh: So you know what that means.

Maia: I do. 

Niamh: Am I just stupid.

Maia: Definitely not. Don't forget I'm a student of the School of Grey's Anatomy.

Niamh: you are. Yeah, yeah. 

Maia: There's another bone in there the clavicle. 

Niamh: Where's your clavicle? 

Maia: Collarbone. 

Niamh: Collarbone. 

Maia: Yeah, so I just thought that image of a clavicle hammock was quite cool.

Niamh: It's quite it's quite eerie actually when you think about it like a skeleton.

Maia: I guess, yeah. Maybe a frail-ish person, but then this like very small child wandering their body, and being able to fit in the flesh between like your shoulder blade, and your clavicle, and I thought it would be cool to swim in.

Niamh: it also feels quite eerie to me like this kind of the sweetness of the cordial and then this creepy, you know, remnants of life.

Maia: Yeah, I guess also like hanging the bones up or hammering them.

Niamh: That reminds me of like the crucifixion actually. 

Maia: Yeah, that was kind of why I did it.

Niamh: Really?

Maia: Yeah. 

Niamh: you are definitely somebody that drinks cordial without it being diluted.

Maia: No! 

Niamh: We do love a bit of elderflower cordial.

Maia: No but I don't don't drink it not diluted.

Niamh: You literally like everything that is not diluted like you have your Robinson squash and if -

Maia: You were the one who actually did that. 

Niamh: It was a mistake, it was a mistake. 

Maia: I do like it very, very strong, but only if it's going to be sour.

Niamh: I do love the lemons I love I love getting a drink and eating the lemon or eating the lime.

Maia: My mom taught me lemon and hot sauce that's a that's a little trick.

Niamh: We have lemons on that on our first date, didn't we, we ate lemons? 

Maia: Yeah we did at the diner. 

Niamh: But yeah, very exciting. Um, next up we're going to be talking to the very amazing 
Connor Byrne. Connor is a poet from Brighton living in London. They write a lot about being queer and trans and their relationship to others and the world, and they're a member of the Roundhouse poetry collective 29 to 21. So -

Maia: 29 to 21?

Niamh: Oh I did it again. I said this earlier to Maia.

Maia: That was a long time ago. 

Niamh: Oh Yeah it was yesterday.

Maia: How old's Connor then? 

Niamh: 2019 to 2021.

Maia: Well done lil mathematician over here.

Niamh: I am a mathematician.

Maia: Mathlete.

Niamh: Yeah, mathlete. 

Maia: If only you could translate those math skills into gardening.

Niamh: Yeah, I don't think that's happening anytime soon.

Maia: Very much doubt it. 

Niamh: Yeah, you know, cold, cold glass or something with some ice in the garden read a book, listen to some music. And I'm sorted, to be honest, get the freckles out. 

Maia: Lucky you with those freckles. 

Niamh: Yeah. So anyway, we'll be back in a minute. 

Niamh: Hi Connor thank you so much for coming today and doing an interview with us. So, why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself, to get things started.

Connor: Okay, well thank you for having me and asking me to come. This is my first interview. So it's going to be hilarious. I'm Connor. My pronouns are he or they, and I do poetry, I'm also a student so I don't have another job at the moment, but I do have a rich and varied job history, which includes being a cactus sales person. I worked at condom factory. And what else did I do, I was a waiter at an immersive, Charles Dickens themed dining experience. So those are some of my jobs that I've had, how are you?

Niamh: We are very good. They sound like crazy poems, all of those jobs.

Connor: Yeah, I haven't. I think it's just too real, because most of them are customer service and I'm just not ready to be honest.

Maia: Thank you for introducing yourself. The thing that we'd like to know is, what kind of space you enjoy writing in, and whether or not that's changed in the past year or so or recently.

Connor: So I thought about this, and sadly, is quite boring. I like writing in my room at my desk. I was thinking about how it's changed during lockdown and obviously that hasn't really changed but I did last year I did find that I was by about the summer, every time I was writing was always okay you're in a room and something really weird is happening. And once I realised that was happening, I was like, okay, lean into that, make it really weird. But yeah, I lived alone, and all of my poems, took place in my room. When I was younger I used to walk around and write in my head, but I don't think I have the memory or the energy

Maia: Apart from the Roundhouse poetry collective, are there any other kind of creative communities that you particularly enjoy being in whether that's just writing or kind of anything else?

Connor: Yeah, I do feel like roundhouse has been really special. I've done other courses like like The Writing Room Apples and snakes and that was fantastic. And there is something really nice about being in a group where, even by people from like different experiences and different experiences of poetry everyone's there for the same reason which is because I really like poetry. And that sounds really basic, but some of the groups I've done it's not always the case and that's really nice. And I, there's another one time thinking of which is help run a monthly open mic and Brighton called poets, which you can find on Facebook, I think, and that's been a really nice community, as we're going for about two years and we have so many people come and new people come and go, and we moved out online when it was lock down, and it's been really nice to have that continue. and that's just the sharing.

Niamh: Yeah no I definitely agree with you, with the Roundhouse and kind of like having such a mix of experience there because I feel like that's that's important to me and that gave me the opportunity. I think I felt like to be there, and also just what you were saying about. Yeah, like the lockdown poems in one room, I would just at that point we were like living in, we were in Waterloo and we were in like an Airbnb, and all my poems were like, I'm looking out the window like another cigarette like.

Connor: I mean, I think the thing but I like that. That I've started doing more is like sort of surreal weird stuff happening that definitely came from that, like, I can't write another poem about the wall. Please God, let me not write another time about the wall, so I'd start inventing weird stuff to happen.

Niamh: Yeah, and I guess, out of all the mediums, one could, why choose poetry?

Connor: So one of the actual reason when I started writing poetry was because I had a really big crush on a guy who wrote poetry about the girl he had a crush on, and I was like well, I could do that, probably, and I really enjoyed it. It was very teenage, and there were lots of rhyming couplets, and I think the thing that might take from guys like rhyme for example, and other kind of constraints like that can be really productive in writing and leading you down different avenues. I don't know so it's really just about writing sappy love poems and that is what I'm really still doing 

Niamh: in terms of what you said yeah kind of about still writing love poems I'm very much in the same boat as, as you know...

Maia: it's just one of those things I remember being like I started writing poetry in primary school, and I had this little notebook, and I had a crush on my teacher, and I would write little poems about my teacher going off to war, and me being really cheesy and I'd be like looking out the window, you know like like where's my lover kind of thing. And I think an element of that has definitely stayed in terms of like writing about love and desire. And, but I think that's just like that feels like quite common thing. And I think poetry can really communicate love in so many different ways you can just pour your heart out even if it's like through abstract ideas that can still be there, which I really love.

Niamh: I was just gonna say as well. I remember you read I don't know what poem, what type it was there was either pantoum or ghazal or something like that, which I loved. 

Connor: A sestina

Niamh: yeah that was, yeah, I remember that was amazing I think we read that on retreat with the poetry collective yeah I loved that.

Maia: So talking about love and poetry. How do you feel that queerness in terms of, like, sexuality and gender identity, infiltrate or inspire any of your work. If they do at all.

Connor: Yeah, infiltrate is a fun way of thinking about it, I mean like in the first instance, I mean like yeah I definitely do. In the first instance, since all poems are queer and trans because as me writing them so ha! And particularly the ones about desire. It's gay, but yeah infiltrate, it's that makes me think of like the kind of reading between the lines kinds of thing that queer people have had to do and have to do and history and how that kind of comes into poetry because poetry is also really about reading between the lines and the effect that happens between the lines in a way that maybe prose isn't and I got really into the idea of trying to write a poem that has an emotional effect without writing the emotion like into the poems or describing or stating emotion, which I think is really, it's definitely possible to do. And that's something else that poetry is really good for, because that's what, that's where all the sort of classic effects like repetition or alliteration, I can only think of kind of high school ones that come in because they create an effect and that that's true in prose as well of course, they create an effect, it's like, not something you can necessarily describe or pinpoint except you have to in this essay but anyway. So yeah I got I was really interested in that, and I think it is interesting, the other month I was reading. When I grow up I want to be a list of further possibilities and I was just really hit like, oh wow, these poems are so good that they also aren't afraid of their own emotions, if you know I mean. So now I'm trying to put it back in and just have some emotions in the poems.

Maia: I think that's really interesting, those kinds of two sides of it. Kind of weaving, or in a sense, like disguising those emotions, and then actually putting them out there. And I think to do that, it's really difficult to almost dress up those emotions as something different for the reader to kind of find on their own or feel, maybe without realising. And one of my modules we did a poem by Gertrude Stein called Susie asado, which is like, it just feels like a, like a free write almost like it doesn't really make much sense, but at the same time it's so put together that if you feel something really intense, and it is about desire, but there's no words related to desire in any way, but somehow you're left with that feeling. I think it's really interesting to do, but I also yeah I like what you're saying about not being afraid to just put it out there at the same time.

Niamh: Yeah, I think it's interesting as well because it's like quite hard. I dunno the balance between kind of stating, like for me personally stating an emotion in a poem because I think sometimes when you write something that sounds really sick, and then you've kind of got this really kind of intense emotion and you actually stated that it works for me when it's there, but kind of also putting it in, you know, completely different words that it's not stated I do find it hard to kind of get the balance between the two either kind of going this is a little bit more vague, you know, and more outright, I guess, because sometimes just stating the word, even though for me it feels like a bold thing to do and I like the way it sounds. I like the way it looks in other people's poems I also feel like I can be a bit lazy.

Connor: I get that all the time like, I'll say to my friend like I've got this, this is amazing. You don't even, you don't even know. And then I'll just say like the green, or whatever, and then she's like, Oh come on, not again. And I'm like no no no no no you don't get it. So I think that also does No, it doesn't have to be for other people all the time. Maybe I should just write a poem, that sort of stuff I want it to be and just be like, Yeah, that's amazing. Anyway, and in terms of the queerness I mean that's kind of the other thing I was going to say is like, I try not to be too serious about poetry, even though I have the tendency to be over serious in my life, I think, and to try and like, take each thing as it comes. And there's also, I think, like my approach to doing gender, try not to be too serious about it, and, like, allow yourself to be surprised, maybe. And, yeah, something that's not as, I don't want it, I don't want to decide what my serious project is, which is poetry, and then do it. Like I'd rather just one at a time.

Niamh: Is there anything that you're working on, that you would like to share with us kind of a bit about it or kind of the process anything like that. 

Connor: Yeah so, I mean, so if this question means like do you have a pamphlet coming out the answer is no, I do not. That's what I'm working towards. One of the like things that's a bit more of a project than I guess an individual poem is I'm working on a sequence, which is about the story of Ithis and Ianthe from Ovid's Metamorphoses, oh you're nodding, you're nodding. Yeah, great. I looked at it in school, I mean, unique, and I was like, how interesting. Basically it's a story in which one of the characters changes gender is changed, gender by the gods, and as I guess in that sense it's quite an old example with a gender change story, or trans character I guess. So I'm rewriting the story into a new sequence of poems, and it's now a trans T for T love story, and all the other characters are gay, if they're not trans, and some of them are. both as is life, and it's really fun kind of doing the rewriting.

Niamh: That sounds really fascinating I'll be really interested to read that. Actually I think I wrote a little bit about that myth in a module for an essay, last term, but I have forgotten a little bit about it so that would be interesting to kind of yeah like see retake that and yeah exactly having, you know, multiple trans characters as well, and then that's quite exactly what we need. 

Connor: So yeah that's one thing.

Niamh: Where can we go about to find more of your work?

Connor: So, realistically, on Twitter, and just conrbyrne that's where I actually would post anything, to be honest. Recently I've been published on Had Hobart after dark, which is a really, really fun website journal where they do like Flash submission things and then they'd get back to you in like a day, so that's really fun and clav mag, as well, and also the Roundhouse poetry collective anthology online which is on the Roundhouse website and that's really good. So yeah, those places.

Niamh: Thank you so much Connor for coming on today and speaking with us it's been very, very nice.

Maia: It's been really nice to meet you properly and get to speak to you after the good things I've heard as well. 

Niamh: Good things. All good things. 

Connor: Yeah, thank you. That was pretty fun. 

Maia: The following is a reading of Connor Byrne's poem Pilot, feel free to check out their 
Twitter, Linked in the show notes.

Connor: pilot. I woke, two men blew a stereo hum, a beautiful man slept on his knees beside my bed, his forehead folded over my hand when I coughed, the man stared and laid kisses on my knuckles. He said, I'm going to get the doctor. Then I gave bad answers to my name and the date and the name of a prime minister. The doctor told us that I had rom com amnesia. My husband went outside for assault, and a rage I did more tests. I was somewhere in the drum of a washing machine, grasping wet strings of silk. I was bathing in the cold empty bottom of the kitchen sink. When my husband returned he sat eking out facts. Am I normally this calm, I asked, he laughed his face folded in a way I could imagine loving. Then his first question. Do you know your gender. I did not. He said, Don't be shocked when he told me everything. Wow, I said, I had no idea but okay good, that's fine. Good for you, good for me. Good to know. Thanks for saying. Later in the clinical shower unsteady for nurse turned away. I rubbed fresh soap all over my body. I was covered in hair, searching for a hesitation 1000 Tears of identical lengths swum under the pour for water. I didn't find a tragedy, a lack a barrier. I was probably pleased with my big square body. I wore a fluffy robe that my husband gave me. Tell me how I feel about my body, I demanded he held me and told me everything is wet from my gender. The doctor said you might be confused or upset, he told me. Why would I be upset, I replied. Turning to the camera. 

Maia: That was Connors poem pilot, and we'll be back with you shortly.

Niamh: Welcome back, listeners, and that was Connor Byrne reading their poem pilot, which was a really beautiful reading wasn't it Maia?

Maia: it was I really enjoyed Connor's reading voice as well. 

Niamh: Get an audiobook Connor. 

Maia: I was gonna say that audiobook material. I'd like that on my calm. Yeah meditation read by Connor. I really enjoyed the imagery.

Niamh: I really enjoyed the conversational aspect of it and I think definitely hearing it read aloud, like you know he said and stuff like that, it was really really enjoyable to listen to and I think it was very, for me it felt really kind of like restrained and gentle even though it was obviously you know, a really big topic like the question. Do you know your gender? And it was presented in this kind of really, you know, beautifully restrained and gentle way.

Maia: Yeah, I really enjoyed that it felt to me like, like rewriting a conversation that you might have with yourself as one had between yourself and some significant people, like, a doctor and a spouse, I thought that that added an element they felt very free to me actually, it felt very free in its kind of quietness. And then with the question, you know, do you know your gender, it's like, Oh, of course, that's what this is. And yeah, I didn't feel too. I personally didn't take it as being restrained, but I think that, I think that would make sense because it is so subtle. At the same time.

Niamh: Yeah, I think also the question like Why would I be upset, as well at the end. That was really kind of powerful. And then it kind of hits you kind of just kind of confirms even more what's going on. So thank you Connor so much for that and sharing that with us. 

Maia: Yeah, thank you, Connor. 

Niamh: And so with Connor we were, you know, speaking about places that we like working in, which is an interesting one I guess over lockdown and over the last year, you know, whether that's changed or not for people and it definitely has for me I don't know what about what about you, Maia, kind of what are the spaces that you feel you can write in that you feel productive and you know that inspire you?

Maia: the places that I like to write in change a lot and kind of have changed, like throughout my life. And I feel like you kind of have to adapt sometimes, but I do enjoy writing outside but I find it hard to write in the garden, because it's either eerily quiet, or there are too many people. But at the moment I really enjoy writing in our living room, I really like writing and my notes app just kind of, when something comes to me. And, yeah, in general I enjoy writing when I'm out of the house. I think that makes me quite happy, especially like travelling being somewhere new. And then just going off for a moment by myself to just think, feels really good. 

Niamh: Yeah, I think as well like in terms of spaces like physical spaces, at the moment that really feels like, am I going to write on my laptop, or am I going to write in a notebook, and ideally I want a nice notebook to write in but sometimes I do get lazy and I write on my laptop. And I, you know I'm doing other stuff I'm doing work and, you know, writing essays and then, you know, in between them open up all these tabs and all these documents with kind of bits and pieces, and the only problem I find with that is they never actually kind of come in something that I want and they never kind of feel as they never feel like something, I'm putting out there for some reason it always feels quite surface kind of what I'm doing I don't know why that is, I guess I can't connect with it as much even with my blue light glasses.

Maia: I guess, writing on paper is like more natural, like you're closer to.

Niamh: And I think you're less scared of mistakes because you know, the thing as well, like, you can easily go into editing mode straightaway. When you start writing on a Word document because you're deleting things. Whereas when you're writing on paper, it's easier to kind of keep going and not read back in the same way, that's what I find.

Maia: Yeah, I definitely find that I'm more cautious of what I write when I write in a notebook, because it feels more permanent on a computer, it's just like, oh, that could be gone tomorrow.

Niamh: That's interesting. Yeah, I think, though, in terms of spaces, I mean I do kind of like writing at home I used to really just be like I need complete silence only complete silence for everything to work in to read in, and I've really started to battle against that recently because in a way that's kind of not life. And obviously when it's a silent room. You know my head might be going like 1000 miles an hour, and I've kind of started being able to, you know, work in busier places and work with noise and work with earphones on with really loud music and kind of writing against my own kind of inhibitions. And just, I guess seeing what comes out and seeing where it takes me, because I guess that silence as well. Often I'm, you know, I've kind of got this designated writing time which is like in complete silence. Perhaps I could concentrate, but at the same time it feels kind of, there's often too much pressure I put too much pressure on myself to produce something, or start producing something then. Whereas if I'm outside I'm on the tube yeah that one of my favourite places to write is actually on the tube, when I've got my, you know music my earphones and I just got my phone Notes app out or a notebook of I have one handy, and just right there in the garden when there's loads of stuff even when there's drilling going on you know it annoys me and I just write about the fact that it annoys me.

Maia: Yeah I really enjoyed doing free writes with music like finding a song that I know it's not about places but you're talking about sound. I really enjoy finding a song and thinking, I want to write something that feels like this song, and then doing a free write to it and usually when I do that something good comes out of it that I want to use.

Niamh: We did a really good free write together which I say actually recommend anyone wants to do that with your friends. We got a Google Docs. So obviously it was a computer we were typing on, but we would get a song and write, you know, At the same time, and then have a look at what each other had written, and kind of be picking out all these things that we liked, and it kind of, it gave me. It gave me, you know encouragement to feel like I wasn't so sure, you know, that's what it did do is put a bit of pressure on me to write to produce something good, but also I stopped being embarrassed of what I was writing, you know, and that's kind of, especially kind of sharing in group settings and things like that free writes. I've never been one to kind of want to do that. And I feel like now that is potentially changed I just feel a little bit less embarrassed about what what first comes out.

Maia: Yeah I mean I can definitely relate to that I've never been in like or I had never been in any like writing group until more recently, and even then we very rarely shared any work, so I never I've never really had that experience before. And, yeah it was good and it's interesting to see like the difference between what I liked about what I'd written and what you liked about what I'd written and kind of how different they were different. Yeah.

Niamh: So, we've had a really great episode, I think, haven't we.

Maia: yeah, really, really, really nice to talk to Connor, very very interesting poet, do go and check out some more of their work.

Niamh Yeah, definitely, um, but other stuff that we'll put links to, um, and it was nice to chat to you, Maia. I had a really good time. 

Maia: It was really nice to chat to you, I hadn't  seen you in ages. 

Niamh: I hadn't seen you in so long. 

Maia: Yeah, please do keep subscribed to amplify and we'd like to thank Rise and Amplify, for making this all happen, and Kyle Blackburn, for helping us with the technology and not making us feel completely lost and confused, and thank you Niamh. 

Niamh: Thank you.

Maia: For being my co host. 

Niamh: Thank you, everybody.

Arden: This podcast was brought to you by the RISE Collective. Thank you to Mahla Axon, Amy Parkes, Kyle Blackburn, Sarisha Kumar, Max Sanderson, and Claude Barbé Brown. Music by Pembroke. We would also like to thank the Young Londoners Fund for making this series of AMPLIFY possible. If you’d like to find out more about RISE and support our work, visit our website www.therisecollective.org.uk, or follow us on Twitter @RiseAmplify or Instagram @therisecollectiveuk. See you next time on AMPLIFY.
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