Judge’s blog: Yomi Sode

Poet Yomi Ṣode is judging this year’s Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award. The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2021 is open for entries until 31 July 2021. It is free to enter and is open to poets aged 11-17 years anywhere in the world. Visit foyleyoungpoets.org to find out more.

Here, Yomi shares his top tip for getting in a writing frame of mind…

Poet Yomi Ṣode in a leather jacket with his hand on his head, against a brown background.
Photo: Yomi Ṣode. Credit: Jolade Olusanya.

Personally, I find it tricky to work in cluttered or busy spaces. I do my best to sort out my work area before proceeding with anything, whether it’s reading, researching, or writing. This is my thing though, and I thought it’s such a cliche ‘writer’ thing to do, and… yes, it is! I would advise writers to find their own points of comfortability before embarking on their creative process. This can be a phone call to loved ones, a good meal, sorting a playlist for the day, putting your phone on do not disturb – you choose. 

I see these processes as rituals. Rituals that set your mind ready in knowing what your day entails. Rituals that also set rules in place for yourself, that you have to honour. For example, once I have sorted my space, I set aside at least 90 mins before it’s swamped with snacks etc. Some people may decide to set a timer for 60 mins of writing before having a break to check emails – again, you choose. A boundary for your self sets a structure for as good a result as possible. Once you are comfortable with the functional rituals you have set for yourself, you’ll find that those around you will also follow suit.  

This is not easy and will not be switched on overnight. Start with small rituals you are comfy with. Trial it between 2-4 weeks. Note down what works and what doesn’t. Up it a notch once you are in a better place with it. Don’t forget to write while you are trying your new rituals out. Your writing is also adapting to the new settings so, of course, where you go, your writing should follow. Listen to its reactions, work as one. Remember, once you have your set ritual, the work is in the maintenance, not the creation. 

It’s an honour to judge the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2021 alongside Clare Pollard. Better believe that my own

work space is ready to read poems. I’m interested in lived experiences explored in unique ways. Give me a sense of your voice. Use imagery, metaphor and all the skills you have acquired so far. Do what you do best! Happy writing!   

Go to foyleyoungpoets.org to find out more. To stay up-to-date with everything that The Poetry Society offers young writers, sign up to the Young Poets Network mailing list, and visit Young Poets Network for year-round poetry competitions, events and advice.