Writing Advice: Part 2

Ever wondered what advice you could gain from the most influential poets and writers on the circuit? Would you like to obtain their retrospective pearls of wisdom? Well, luckily enough, Wordlife have asked for you. Hopefully their wise words will give you an extra drive to become the next big thing. Enjoy.


Benjamin Zephaniah is an internationally renowned ‘dub poet’, his writing linking heavily with the rhythms of reggae music.

‘First of all, in terms of your writing, be honest. Don’t go with fads and fashions because they fade. Just go to an open mic night and do a poem. If it doesn’t go down well, you will know why, because you can see and feel why. Once you’ve got a bit of clout on stage, as long as you can think about writing for the page in a different way, you can do it.’



John Hegley is a poet, comedian, songwriter and mandolin tinkler. He started as a bus conductor, before deciding to move to Bradford and study European literature and the history of ideas.

‘Always have a sample of your work in case you bump into somebody who might be able to help you with your poetry. And I think it’s worth collaborating with other folk – finding someone like-minded. In terms of writing, much of what I try to do with the book really – make it personal but make it public.’


Mark Grist is a poet, promoter and former teacher. He has toured the country with his Dead Poets show, performing his lyrical encouragements for education, spoken word, and a brighter future.

‘Always read, or see or hear more poetry. Always absorb more art than you create. The better the ratio, the better your work will be. I probably spent most of my life thinking I was a shit poet, and there’s still a part of me that thinks that on a fairly regular basis, but that’s not the end of the world. As long as it’s got some truth to it, then carry on.’


Hollie McNish is a Cambridge-born poet, whose YouTube channel has clocked over 2.5 million views. Performing both nationwide and internationally, her manifesto topics range from breastfeeding to immigration.

‘The main thing from personal experience is not to wait, not to worry. No-one’s going to turn to you and tell you were rubbish. Start sharing your work with other people – start a group, go to open mics, start sharing the box of poems under your bed.’

You can see Hollie McNish live on 1st November at the Off the Shelf closing party and we’ve got even more on the way with Kate Tempest on the 8th November at Plug – join us!

For Wordlife events, open mics and information how to get involved, visit the website, or email us at wordlife@nowthenmagazine.com.

Compilation by Joe Kriss, Sam Fielding and Sara Hill.



  1. Hi,

    I just wondered if you had any up and coming events and open mic nights planned, and if there were any performance spots still open?

    Warm regards

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