Meet a Member: Poppy Collier

Fresh from her 26 Emerging Writer Award win last week, I caught up with Poppy to find out what makes her tick and what she’s working on. Some of her answers may surprise you…

Tell us a bit about yourself – where are you from and what do you do?

I’m from Hull which is in East Yorkshire but I moved to London around two years ago. I live in Walthamstow now and I work at the NSPCC as a copywriter.

Where did your love of words come from?

Well, I’ve not always had a love of words. When I was 19, I was told I was dyslexic (even though I’ve always had an inkling that I was), so when I was at school and growing up I held the opinion that words just weren’t for me. Because of the way my brain works, I found spelling, reading and writing quite tricky, so I saw words as a bit of a chore. As a child that made me rather picky with what I would read and how I expressed my ideas, but I always enjoyed poems, Spike Milligan was my favourite. As I grew up I found that words weren’t all that bad—they were actually pretty amazing and can be used in all sorts of creative ways.

What made you join 26? And how long have you been a member?

I was recommended it while on a Dark Angels course and it sounded like a good thing to be a part of as a young writer who’s new to London, so I signed up. I’ve been a member for around six months.

You’ve just won 26’s Emerging Writer Award – congratulations! How does it feel to be a winner?

Amazing! It’s such a great confidence boost—really encouraging. Having other experienced and great writers think your work is good is just the pat on the back I needed. Also, I don’t think I’ve ever come first in anything, so I’m going to milk it for all it’s worth.

What’s your ideal scenario for writing? (A coffee shop? Quiet retreat? With or without music? What do you do to get yourself in the right frame of mind?)

I like to mull stuff over for a bit in my head first and this usually happens while I’m walking somewhere or on a train. Then I’ll write down whatever is in my head onto anything I can get my hands on. But I think for editing and crafting it’s got to be somewhere fairly quiet and where I have access to the basic home comforts (tea, toilet, radio).

What are you working on at the moment?

I’ve been working on a self-initiated project called The V Word over the past few months. It’s been an idea of mine for a few years and I’ve finally decided to put it into action. The idea has come from the fact that there are lots of women who have concerns about the appearance of their vulva. Some women are so self-conscious they even avoid cervical screenings because they’re afraid their vagina isn’t normal, which causes an average of 900 deaths a year. The V Word workshops aim to open up the conversation by using cakes and icing so women can learn and chat about the many layers of the vulva as they build their own vagina cupcake. I did a test run of a workshop a few weeks ago and it went really well, I’m going to carry on doing them and see what happens. But it’s still in the very early stages at the moment.

Could you tell us about a piece of writing you’re particularly proud of?

The tone of voice and branding piece I did for The Lighthouse, which is a new service that opened in London in December last year. It takes a different approach to child sexual abuse by putting all the services needed to support children under one roof, giving them a safe place to recover, get justice and rebuild their lives. For me, it was a really great experience to lead on a tone of voice and brand identity and it’s even more rewarding knowing it’s for such a worthy service.

Where do you get your inspiration?

Just everyday life, watching TV, chatting with my mum, observing the weird stuff people do. I’ve found that every experience and encounter I have can be a source of inspiration whether I realise it or not.

– Poppy Collier and Sophie Gordon

We’ll be meeting a new 26 member each month. If you’d like to feature, or nominate another member, drop me a line at Don’t be shy.

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