Ache: An Interview With Scarlett Ward

I’m most definitely a sucker for poetry collections, but something about Scarlett Ward’s debut collection, Ache, really got its claws into me. She writes in a way that really delved into my past and brought back feelings from my teenage years I thought I forgot. In a way, it’s an ode to the big loves in your life, healing and coming out the other side, and it’s just something that I couldn’t put down.

My personal favourites in the collection include “Seen“, “What is true of Spring” and “Snow“. They’re really just poignant pieces for me and really speak to me personally.

I’m so glad I got the chance to talk with Scarlett further about her collection and how it was shaped. You can read the interview below and find out more information on where you can purchase the collection yourself.

Ache

Is this your first published collection?

Ache is my first published collection yes, and I’m very grateful to have my debut collection with Verve Press. I previously published a micro pamphlet digitally with Irisi magazine in 2017 called “Rebirth” which you can read here.

How does it feel moving from the “Best Spoken Word Performer UK ‘19” to having a published collection in the space of a year?

I struggle with imposter syndrome quite a lot and it’s hard for me not to constantly think:

“I don’t deserve this I have just tricked everyone into thinking I’m half decent and one day everyone will realise I don’t deserve this!”

Having said that I feel like I’m absolutely living a dream at the moment and I am so grateful for everyone who voted for me in the Saboteur Awards, and to Verve for giving me the opportunity to make my own book. This year is turning out to be a whirlwind!

What inspired the name Ache?

My collection explores the journey of mental health struggles as a result of trauma, the long path to recovery, and relearning what it is to love after suffering from a broken heart. I love the word ‘ache’ because we can ache in so many ways: to ache from suffering, to ache from longing, to ache from loving, and this book explores all the different aspects of that journey.

Who, in your opinion, does this book aim to enlighten and inspire?

I would love for my book to find its way into the hands of someone who is struggling. Maybe they’ve had their heart broken or they are battling against their own minds every mealtime – and I would love for this person to perhaps feel a little less alone, and for them to realise there is hope at the end of it all. 

When did you start writing poetry? And who inspired you along the way?

At fourteen I was a mega emo kid (still am, mom: it’s not a phase ok?) so I used to write a lot of really awful poetry in my diary based on the kind of music I was listening to – but I started taking my writing seriously in uni when a lecturer said to me my prose was too flowery and maybe I should try poetry. I have so many inspirations: Sylvia Plath, my friend Kate Foley (book: The Bird Hours), Liz Berry, my mom, nature, Emily Dickinson, Stevie Nicks.

We are obsessed with your Instagram, it’s beautiful how you combine art and poetry, have you always had an artistic flair?

Thank you! However, a note on Instagram: it is a highlight reel; not reality. I’ve recently become much more aware of what I’m consuming on Instagram lately, using it to follow more artists and fewer diet tips/cosmetic surgery accounts. It’s a wonderful platform to be able to find new authors and artists though, and yes I’ve always loved art in all forms and I love how that can be so much more accessible now through social media.

Your poetry has been filmed numerous times and can be found on YouTube. Which is your favourite filmed version of your work and why?

It took me a while to accept my own voice and accent, so in some of my old videos my voice sounds like someone else’s, which I really don’t like. I’ve been on a bit of a journey to fall back in love with my midlands accent after being told it made me sound thick and told to have elocution lessons in high school – so anything where I sound proper black country I’m proud of. I love this video (below) because I managed to memorise all the words which is something I struggle with, and it’s true to my own voice.

And finally, what would you say to someone looking to embrace poetry and writing?

The more you write, the more you write. The more you read, the better you write. 

You can purchase Ache via Verve Poetry Press here and follow Scarlett on both Instagram and Twitter.

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