Introduction of Harry Laing – Poet and Children’s Author
1) Who were you and what problem did you have when you started out?
I was a poet writing for adults and writing and performing my own solo shows. I was also working in schools and starting to accumulate poems which the students seemed to enjoy. At a certain point I realised I needed to get a book together. My problem was I only had 25 or so poems and the first publisher I approached said that’s nowhere near enough!
2) How did you solve it?
I wrote another 50 odd poems rather fast.
3) What was the one thing that impressed you the most about following your passion?
I was impressed by the fact that when I put the pressure on myself to get those poems written I could do it and in fact enjoyed doing it. Then I had to find an illustrator and designer and get the thing published. Which I did. So my first book Shoctopus – poems to grip you! was a learning experience, as they say.
4) How is sharing your story making a difference for you right now?
Well it’s making me want to get my third book out. It’s nearly there, honest.
5) As a child, what was your relationship with books?
I loved ‘em and spent a lot of time with them. I happened to go to boarding school aged 8-12 which offered even more time to read. Whole periods devoted to quiet reading. Wonderful.
6) What is the most important thing about what you want to do?
Well I happen to think poetry is one of the most important things in the world and I want share it with as many kids as I can. I love seeing kids get excited by poetry and realising how much fun they can get out of writing it too.
7) Do you believe books can change the world?
I could say ‘of course they do’ but I think the more interesting answer is that books change their readers. Every book creates a unique relationship with its reader and it depends on so many factors. Where you are in your life when you read that book. Where you are physically. Your age, your mood. So the change is happening as you turn those pages and engage with those poems, those situations, those characters. They speak to you. Connections are being forged. Something is being created moment by moment as you read and as an author it’s delightful to think that you’re creating a new relationship every time someone picks up your book.
8) What do you hope people will take away from your story?
I hope people will want to read poetry, get fired up by poetry and want to write it. I’m thinking about kids in particular. I’d love kids to think that poetry can be part of their everyday life. That they might come up with a few lines of a poem of mine when they’re having a laugh with their mates. Or they might learn a poem in class and take it home and recite it.
9) What is your ultimate goal?
To write books that people get a kick out of.
10) If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
Don’t start me. No seriously. Just one thing. JUST ONE? You must be kidding. Um. Well. First we need a world before we change anything. So, please could we look after the planet and all its creatures. It’s got to be Global Warming. We have to act not now but yesterday. Oh and could I maybe have one more (small, tiny, miniscule) change? More fun poetry? More people saying we want more fun poetry?