Interview: Fire & Dust Meets Skye Bebbington
While living in Coventry for her studies, Skye Bebbington was a regular at our Fire & Dust open mics. Sadly for the F&D crowd, she moved to Leicester around a year ago so we hadn’t seen much of her for a while – but we lured her back with an invite to headline a gig in April 2018! Originally from Preston, Skye has been living around the Midlands for the past five years. She is a spoken word poet who combines raw and honest words with an energetic performance, touching on subjects that range from her own personal battles to wider global issues. Our regulars were happy to see her back and the new, expanded audience got a taste of Skye’s writing and performance style, enjoying it to the extent that we had to get her back on the mic for an encore at the end!
We caught up with Skye after Fire & Dust, to ask a few questions…
How long ago did you first start writing and performing your poetry, and what inspired you to start?
Well, I actually used to write novels, then when I was 16 in my first year of college, my English teacher told me to enter this poetry competition and I got a flair for it ever since. I’ve only been performing my poetry for 2 years now. Some wise soul told me my words would be really good if I essentially ‘acted them out’ so I did – now I write my poetry with the aim to do performance poetry.
What would you consider to be the key themes in your writing?
How cliché would it be if I said sex, drugs and rock and roll? Or maybe just the first two. Okay, I’m only half joking, but in addition to that I also touch a lot upon mental health, I’ve got a few politically challenged poems and I write a lot about relationships, as in mother-daughter, between friends etc., and how they change and affect us throughout life.
How often do you write a poem?
I’m not too sure, sometimes I get bursts of creativity and write 2-3 a week, other times I go a couple of months. I have a sheet where I write down all these poetry bits that come to me, I then transfer them to a word document and a couple of times I get a poem from it. I’ve found poetry comes in dribs and drabs, I’ll say something in a normal conversation with my mates and be like “hey that was pretty poetic, let’s make that into something.”
You explore a lot of emotive subjects and personal experiences in your poems. When you started out, were you nervous about sharing these things with a live audience?
I wasn’t really nervous about sharing, I’m a pretty open person and in order to tap into poetry you need to be able to access that vulnerable side of you and share it to the audience. What I do get nervous about is if they (the audience) won’t like it. I put everything I feel into poems, things I still don’t really understand about myself – if even one person was to turn and be like “yeah I didn’t really like that” after I’d just bared everything, it would be pretty gutting. I’m not very good at taking constructive criticism, think it comes from being shouted at too much as a kid haha.
Based on your poetry, it seems like your life has had some rough patches. Did writing poetry play a part in helping you overcome these times?
Yeah of course, especially over the last year and a half, everything just came to a head and I was drinking and doing other things a bit too much and I didn’t write any poetry for a few months because I didn’t want to talk about it. But I found writing things down helped me understand it, I’d write something, read it back and realised that that’s why I felt certain things or acted certain ways. There’s some subjects I really want to write about, but I’m just not ready to yet, give it another couple of years or so.
We noticed your poetry has a lot of variation in terms of volume (loud bits vs. quieter bits), speed and rhythm. Does this come naturally when you’re performing, or is it something you work on?
The loud bits yeah, I know even as I’m writing them which bits to emphasise and then I work on it when practising etc. During the run-throughs I’ll choose to swap words in/out and change the tones but it is something I work on – but not too much, if that makes sense? In terms of the quieter bits, not sure I should admit it but they normally happen when I’m forgetting the words and need to process them, or when I need to catch a breath!
Which poets/writers are your biggest influences? Are there other spoken word artists whose work you have recently enjoyed?
I’m a massive classical literature/metaphysics poetry fan, a lot of my earlier stuff came from them. I have to credit Sylvia Plath and T. S. Eliot, but I’ve been listening to a lot of other poets lately. I go onto the Button Poetry YouTube channel and listen to all the poems they put up, a couple of my favourites are Andrew Lee and Edwin Bodney. Then a few UK poets: Mellow Baku, Jamie Thrasivoulou and Andrea Mbarushimana. Lastly, the one and only Leonard Cohen – his songs are basically poems, right?
Could you please share some writing/performance tips for beginner poets out there?
Don’t feel scared to bare your all, the first time will be nerve wracking but after that you’ll relish it. Also: practice and don’t forget your lines.
Would you like to tell our readers about any upcoming gigs and future projects?
I’m just doing lots of open mic nights in Leicester, and one of my mates has got a car so we’re going to venture over to Derby, Kettering, Birmingham etc. I just want to perform poetry so any good nights out there, please tell me about. Lastly I’m also in the process of writing my first collection called “Past Lives and Trying Times”; I have about 20 poems completed so far but I ideally want about 25. Once I think I’m near the writing completion I’m going to hire an editor and self-publish it. I’m hoping 2019 (fingers crossed).
Is there anything we didn’t cover?
I have a blog: https://skyebebbingtonpoet.wordpress.com
I also have an Instagram page where I post short lines of recently written work as captions on my photos – most of which are travelling photos. I’m not an “Instagram poet” and I won’t become one. However, if you like over-filtered photos of landscapes, cats and tattoos coupled with poetry then please give us a follow on https://www.instagram.com/sb3bb/