Writing with Kids: In conversation with Apollo, Foyle Young Poet 2015
Apollo recently had a name change because, ‘my legal name was gendered and therefore inapplicable.’ Apollo also uses the widely recognised gender neutral ‘they’ and ‘their’ instead of ‘he’ or she.’ Finding your identity through the stormy seas of adolescence is a real challenge but one that Apollo has embraced with courage and authenticity.
Although of Russian origin, Apollo now lives in Farnborough, UK, and attends Wellington College where we met through the Creative Writing Society. Apollo has been writing with me for three years and is one of the most original young writers I know.
Apollo is currently working on a prequel of their first novel, Beneath The Cobblestones, as well as ‘a ton of random poetry I touch base on from time to time.’ To use Apollo’s own words: ‘I am an artist, feminist, and parent to a growing collection of succulents.’ The themes of witchcraft and space exploration are a common theme within their poetry and they hope to one day complete a poetic anthology of their works.
Here is a little insight into Apollo’s world:
Which three words would you use to describe yourself?
Stranger. Explorer. Supernova.
How would you describe your writing style?
Something that happened as an unsuccessful experiment and evolved to become it’s own species. It combines the scientific and the spiritual until you can’t tell one from the other and collages all this with real life.
What do you love most about writing?
I prefer poetry over prose because it doesn’t have to be written in words widely understood. It can be shaped into whatever the writer wants it to convey.
What do you find hardest about writing?
Finding the will to keep going when your soul’s been written out and your mind is blank.
Tell us a bit more about what inspired you to write the poem, which won the Foyle Poetry Competition 2015?
I’m often inspired by others’ ideas; you could even call me a thief in the trade. There was a poem by Tomaz Salamun that I copied the style of, and wrote something about myself and the person I was back then.
How did you feel when you heard you had won the competition and what was the award ceremony like?
I wasn’t having the best of days when I got the call. Needless to say that the day was dramatically improved, but I did spill tea all over myself in surprise. The ceremony itself was amazing and terrifying, with a plateful of chicken nuggets that I conveniently hoarded, and so many amazing people to meet.
The dress Apollo made for the ceremony – one of many talents!
What next? What are you ambitions for the future?
I plan to focus on performance/slam poetry, and attempt to enter competitions such as this one. This is one of the first things I did in the sphere and it was a surprise to have won, and this fuels my confidence to expand my career as a poet.
How did you start writing and what or who has been the greatest influence in your writing life?
The English language was what first made me think in verse. I could never get into writing in my native language, Russian, but as soon as I became fluent in English I found the language fluid and malleable, and discovered the ability to do what I wished with the words.
I enjoyed the unruliness of the language and the amount of puns you can fit into a single sentence.
Throughout my writing life I have looked up to the Romantic era for poetic inspiration, as well as more contemporary works. I was always attracted to darker poetry, and attempted to include the darkness of human nature in mine.
You wrote your award-winning poem on an Arvon Schools Course. Tell us a bit about what makes Arvon special and what it means to you.
Here is Apollo’s first novel, self-bound. Next stop, Waterstones!