Poetry Rivals 2016

Taking poetry from the page to the stage!

Guest Blog from Stephen Watt, 2010 Winner

Date Posted: 02-09-2014 09:34:53

Since winning the Poetry Rivals Slam in April 2011, Stephen Watt has become a mainstay in the Glasgow poetry and spoken word scene. His debut collection ‘Spit’ was released in 2012 by Bonacia Ltd, preceding first prize awards hosted by Federation of Writers (Scotland), Dagda Publishing, and Tartan Treasures. Stephen was also the winner of the Hughie Healy Memorial Trophy, and earlier this month (August 2014) he successfully acquired first prize in the Stanza International Digital Poetry Slam, pipping Zimbabwe and Ghana to the coveted top spot. Appearances at Doune The Rabbit Hole, Eden, and Wickerman festivals coupled with publication from literary magazines in Mexico (Ofi Press) to football programmes (Dumbarton FC) have followed during these last twelve months.


How has Poetry Rivals helped your writing career?


Winning Poetry Rivals in 2011 was unexpected and hugely influential in increasing my confidence for spoken word and performance poetry in front of live crowds. I felt that I had the appreciation of both the judges and the crowd, and this feeling of respect continued when I returned to Glasgow. Regardless of whatever else happens in future, that night in April 2011 will be remembered forever.


How would you describe your poetry style?


Dogged. I like to swing between tender, quixotic ideas and poems which sound like phone calls to the Samaritans.  I live beneath the Erskine Bridge where a Samaritans phone box is still in use due to the high number of suicides there – perhaps that has something to do with it.


Do you have a special place you write?


I will scribble notes, rhymes, stories, etc anywhere but I do have a little study where I tend to pull the jigsaw together. Friday evenings also, strangely, appear to be my best time for getting things down on paper.


Where do you draw your inspiration from?


This could be an inexhaustible list. When I won the Federation of Writers (Scotland) award in 2013, the poem was written travelling to the Scottish borders on my way to a relative’s funeral. I conducted a story from all the many wonderful sights we passed travelling there. Other times, it is from memory – the sweaty nightclubs, PE at school, festivals, and so on.


What are your future literary ambitions?


I admired Jim Carruth’s lines engraved into the base of the Kelpies structure – that was really different. Also, Ian Hamilton Finlay’s “Little Sparta” garden is another wonderful concept. It would be fantastic to leave behind a contribution like either of those, but in the near future I would be ecstatic with a second book publishing deal. I’ve also recently been asked to be a guest editor for a literary magazine which I was delighted to accept, and it would be terrific fun to make a few poetry videos that last through time; my first digital poem, ‘Rubik’, won the Stanza Digital Slam this month, so it gives hope that there are more goodies to follow.


Who is your favourite poet(s)?


Always, Carol Ann Duffy.  She looks a grumpy old crow, but her books “Selling Manhattan”, “Feminine Gospels”, “The World’s Wife”, etc have continued to inspire me for 15 years now; a real one-off.


You can find out more about Stephen and his work here:




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