For those who have not read it, what can we expect from your new poetry collection Glass Delusion?
The poetry explores lots of different themes, from the environment, to what may happen in the future, to the dynamics of peoples' relationships.
Your poems are about the likes of Dr Who's wife, a psychic octopus; a troublesome poltergeist; an orchestra of insects and an enchanted version of Essex, all unsual concepts, so where did your inspiration come from for the these?
Inspiration comes from everywhere - perhaps something I've read, somewhere I've been, or an experience I've had. I'm also really interested in the possibilities of language - musicality, humour, form - so some poems play with this. I love to engage with art, science and history in my work. One poem, 'Squiddity', for example, was inspired by an artist working on an image of a squid specimen at the Natural History Museum in London. I like to write about things that are a bit quirky - I think anything can be in a poem.
Your first book 'Unexpected Weather' won Salt's Crashaw Prize in 2008, how did this make you feel as a writer?
The prize meant being able to be published, which was a great opportunity for me. It can be very difficult to get a first poetry book out - it's competitive and publishers are limited in how may writers they can support.
Who are favourite reads?
I have a lot. Poets include Alice Oswald, Ted Hughes, Jo Shapcott. Fiction writers include Alice Munro, Janet Frame, David Mitchell, China Mieville.
Who has been invaluable in your writing inspiration?
I think writers like the above. But also artists, scientists. In terms of supporting me - my partner who helps me edit, my editor at Salt, Roddy Lumsden, and Salt Publishing themselves, run by Chris Hamilton-Emery - who is brilliant.
When did your flair for poetry begin?
I've loved writing since I was small - writing creatively as soon as I could write at all. I wrote more stories then. In my twenties I did an MA at Exeter University with Andy Brown, a really great poet, and learnt how to focus my abilities then.
What is your writing background? The above. I also went on to do a PhD at Sussex University in Creative and Critical Writing.
How much has lecturing helped your own writing develop?
I think if you teach something you really have to think about how it works in a conscious way, you have to become a good editor of people's writing, and pay attention to detail. All of this feeds positively back into my own writing.
How does it make you feel to be involved in your students' progess as writers?
It's fantastic. It's wonderful to see work improve and for its best aspects to really come out. I'm always amazed by the amount of writing talent that I encounter in my students each year.
What is the best piece of advice you can give to aspiring writers?
Read, read, read! If you want to write contemporary poetry or fiction, you have to know what's out there. But also, if you read good writing, thinking about how it's done, you'll start to develop your own voice. I also think it's useful to join a group that shares writing in progress. It doesn't have to be at university, though that works well, it can be an informal group, or even a short course. You need to be open to feedback though, and not take it personally. The people in your group are potentially your readers, after all. Getting a sense of how your work is received by others means you can think about your audience when you write. Arvon courses are a great start - run by professional writers in lovely country retreats for a week or so - a great way to get away from distractions (no internet, no TV), get feedback and meet like-minded budding writers. the NAWE website is also a great place to look for different opportunities. Don't write in a vacuum.
Female First Lucy Walton