Before we pass you over to Romalyn, it’s worth mentioning that since she completed this interview, her debut pamphlet, Rice & Rain, has been shortlisted in the Saboteur Awards. Congratulations!
Q1: Can you tell us a little about your experience as a writer to date?
My debut poetry pamphlet is Rice & Rain (V. Press, 2017). I am a current Jerwood/Arvon mentee (2017-2018). I joint-won the latest Manchester Poetry prize and I am also Commended in Battered Moons Poetry Competition, and received Creative Future Literary Awards for Poetry in 2017. As a recipient of Artists’ International Development Fund, I travelled back to the Philippines in November 2017 to write about culture, identity, and reconnections, and to talk about my craft at De La Salle University, Manila.
Q2: You were a prize winner in our 2017 competition (well done!). Can you remember what encouraged you to enter the competition?
To be honest, I almost did not enter the competition! At that time, I was having a little doubt about my writing ability; however, I thought CFLA is an opportunity that only comes once a year and it’s such a significant one because it highlights work from people of ‘marginalised’ backgrounds. I was encouraged by this thought, and by the idea that an organisation out there wants to support and showcase us.
Q3: How has winning the award impacted on your writing?
It gave me acknowledgement and testament that I can be an award-winning writer. It made me want to hone my talents more and it encouraged me not to be ‘shy’ to put my work out there in the world.
Q4: What would you say to someone who is considering entering the competition, but is unsure whether they have enough experience as a writer?
Go ahead and enter! You won’t lose anything. The worst thing that can happen is, of course, you will not win anything, but nobody would even know this! And the best thing that could happen is limitless – you will be supported by CFLA, and TLC through Chapter & Verse mentoring and manuscript assessment, and you will meet nice and encouraging people along the way. Also, trust in your writing and in your own voice. Do not think that you do not have ‘enough experience’. Thinking is hard. Leave that bit for the judges!
Q5: What’s your one big tip for a new writer?
Do not let a day pass by without reading anything.
Q6: Please don’t be modest – tell us about your successes!
Apart from CFLA, I joint-won the Manchester Poetry Prize 2017. I am also chosen to be in Primers 3 (Nine Arches Press/The Poetry School). Most recently, I performed at Verve Festival at two separate occasions with Kaveh Akbar, Jane Commane, Liz Berry, and lots of other epic poets. I am also chosen to be a part of the longest writing development in Asia – Silliman University National Writers’ Workshop.
Thanks so much for sharing your tips, Romalyn.