It is relatively easy to get poetry published; it’s harder to get paid for it: An interview with poet Kaye Axon


Writer and poet Kaye Axon has had several hundred poems published or self-published worldwide.

Her poem “Voteless on Election Day,” which explores feelings around not being able to vote, won the Editor’s Choice award that is administered by the International Library of Poetry. The poem was subsequently published in the poetry anthology “A Quiet Storm.”

In 2005, her short story “Kamikaze Black Moor,” which explores the role fish played in her childhood, was short-listed in the Leicester and Leicestershire Short Story Contest.

Axon was born in 1973. She grew up in and around Leicester in the U.K.

She is a long-term vegan and travel addict. Her work often reflects her travels through life, her long-standing affection for her cat and her well-known hatred of all things penguin.

Kaye Axon spoke about her writing.

When did you start writing?

I’ve always written and made up little stories, even as a small child when my imaginary friend Duncan the Dragon got up to all sorts of mischief, but I only started to submit any pieces or realize that anyone else would like to see my work in the late ’90s.

I tend to write about subjects that interest me, for instance I’ve recently read a lot of horror and detective novels, and this has meant that my three most recent short stories have had a darker side.

Sometimes the words just come onto the page. Sometimes something will so upset or enrage me that I will take to the pen and sometimes I’ll decide that the world just doesn’t have enough poems about squirrels.

I just can’t stop myself.

I have written about social issues in the past, and continue to do so. Slavery and bonded labor is a very important issue to me, but the words don’t seem to be there to write about it at the moment. I’ve also written articles for the vegan small press and poetry on animal welfare.

What would you say are some of the major challenges that you face as a poet? And how are you dealing with these?

Lack of time, chronic “idleitis” and the fact that my small fluffy feline friend keeps nicking my pens.

I’m trying to collate my Grandpa’s poems and type them up for my Grannie this week and my Web site, is hideously out of date and is another outstanding job.

Most poets complain that it is very difficult to make a living through writing poems. They also complain that outlets and opportunities for getting published and for getting their writings out there are limited. How is it with you and how are you dealing with these challenges?

It is relatively easy to get poetry published; it’s harder to get paid for it.

Fortunately, I have a job I adore with a wonderful team at a Doctor’s surgery in Aylestone [a suburb in Leicester], which takes care of the bills.

I never write about anything that happens in the surgery. Aylestone is a small community and I never want to risk people recognizing themselves or other people in any of my work. However, saying that, working in a doctors’ surgery has left me with a sense of humor and a sense of community, which I value.

Who would you say has influenced you the most in terms of your writing?

My writing is very easily influenced, so I try to read as wide a variety as possible. I have found the work of Benjamin Zephaniah very inspiring as well as some of the more traditional Norse legends and stories.

How do you approach each poem? What do you start with? How long does it take you to get the poem right? And how do you know you’ve got it just right?

Sometimes I have to sit and force myself to write and other times the words just seem to flow and it’s a case of finding a pen and paper before the words disappear. Some poems and short stories seem to be complete the minute they hit the page, others need reworking and some I’m never happy with and never finish.

What role do you think poets play in the world as it stands?

All writers can have a profound effect on the world around them and their readers, even if it’s only a smile on a readers face at a funny piece. When someone comes up to you and says they really enjoyed something or felt something it makes your day.

Whilst there is only a slim chance that I will change the world with poetry, just look what Shakespeare did with it.

This article was first published on OhmyNews International.

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