Sink into the weekend by reading our interview with poet Elizabeth Gibson, one of the creatives featured in the upcoming Changeling Annual.
Emmy: Hello! What is your name, where are you based in the world, and what is your artistic practice?
Elizabeth: Hi, I am Elizabeth (Liz) and I live in Manchester. I am a poet, theatre maker and performer.
Emmy: What inspired your Changeling poem, “Memoir”?
Elizabeth: I really enjoy diary-writing, jotting down the highlights of my day which often include walking in the city, encounters with geese and other animals, and how I am feeling. Then, I’ll work with that to create a poem, or work it into a bigger theatre piece. With my Changeling poem, “Memoir”, I watched my cat walking on the keyboard when my Mam was trying to type, and I had to write about it – cats are very inspiring!
Emmy: How long have you been writing?
Elizabeth: I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember – creating feels like a vocation for me and I can’t imagine not doing it. In 2021, I became self-employed as a writer and tutor, and I have worked with organisations including Manchester Pride, Oldham Coliseum, Islington Mill, Yorkshire Dance, and The Portico Library.
Emmy: Where is your favourite place to create?
Elizabeth: I often write in coffee shops or libraries, because I like having people around me and feeling connected. But then, I also write some of my favourite pieces last thing at night before I go to sleep. So, I guess what works best for me is a combination of being tuned into the world, and being in my own little world.
Emmy: What inspired you when you were younger?
Elizabeth: I loved animals and enjoyed Michael Bond and Dick King-Smith’s books, and wrote my own stories inspired by then. I also was inspired by the folk/rock music my parents played, especially female songwriters including Nanci Griffith, Joni Mitchell, and Christine McVie.
I named all of the spiders and ladybirds in my garden, and I did all I could to rescue any injured creatures I found. I was also passionate about arts and crafts, and would make all kinds of things and then sell them to my family – I even made my own little magazines about (you’d never guess…) animals.
Emmy: What is your favourite thing about being neurodivergent?
Elizabeth: I have my own language and lens to see the world, as my brain links colours and letters and numbers and sensations, and invents words, and that really helps me to write poetry. I also find joy in the little things in life, and in my own company. Some of my happiest times have been on my own, in nature or reading or baking, and I really treasure that.
Emmy: What is your favourite thing about writing?
Elizabeth: It allows me to share aspects of my life, and things I’m passionate about. It is also vital for my mental health – I feel much calmer and happier when I write and create regularly.
Emmy: Do you think being neurodivergent impacts your creativity in any way?
Elizabeth: It helps me to create in my own unique way, and be freer. However, it also means I can get very perfectionist and overly stressed, so I try to have a routine and be gentle with myself.
Emmy: What would you say to encourage any aspiring creatives reading this?
Elizabeth: Believe in yourself and your voice – no-one else sees the world in the exact same way you do, so you have something only you can offer. Write or create what you want to, and try not to put rules on yourself. Sometimes I have no idea what I’m doing as I’m writing or drawing, but then when I step back and look at it, I can see a pattern or meaning emerging.
Emmy: Is Changeling your first time being published?
Elizabeth: I have been published by some lovely journals, and in the last couple of years I have had some dream acceptances including Lighthouse, Magma, Popshot, and Under the Radar. Changeling is one of the first places I have been published that is specifically for neurodivergent creators; another is the Spectrum issue of Powders Press, which is out now.
Elizabeth has a blog at elizabethgibsonwriter.blogspot.com. You can also follow her on Twitter and Instagram as @Grizonne.
Changeling Annual 2023 will be published in Spring — keep an eye out for updates by following our Instagram.