An interview with… Jamie Lee

Did last week’s cover reveal get you all excited?! Good! We’re kicking off the week with another interview, this time with poet Jamie Lee.

Emmy: Hello! Tell us a bit about yourself.

Jamie: Hi! 😊 I’m Jamie. I’m based in Wigan, in Greater Manchester, UK and I write and say words, do poems, tell stories and whatever else I can find to creatively get out the thoughts bouncing around my mind (though those are the main ones I’m currently good at!). I generally try to create art that challenges existing narratives so tend to call myself a spoken word ‘artivist’ and then cringe internally, run, hide and slowly peep up to see who’s judging me for my super-clever play on words.

Emmy: What inspired your Changeling poem, “Mind”?

Jamie: It’s been estimated that by age 10, people with ADHD will have received – on average – 20,000 negative messages. It’s increasingly recognised that neurodivergent people often mask huge chunks of identity (at great expense to mental health) in order to access acceptance. The many barriers to formal diagnosis mean that many neurodivergent people struggle with closure in understanding the reason behind these experiences, often just learning to feel ‘other’. Add to that all the negative messages young people can get for being LGBTQ+ or Global Majority heritage and you have a bubbling cauldron brewing a cocktail of misplaced under-confidence. “Mind” is inspired by the urge to celebrate and embrace the joy in our differences, whatever they might be, and to (re)learn radical self-love, which – to me – is one of the greatest forms of resistance.

Emmy: How long have you been writing?

Jamie: Wow. I’m old enough to say decades now. I’m 32 now so about 30 years? Consciously and intentionally, probably since I was about 6.

Emmy: Where is your favourite place to create?

Jamie: I love creating everywhere. When I’m ‘in the zone’, the space beyond me and wherever I’m recording my thoughts can often seem to dissolve around me. That being said, being surrounded by green or purple, nature – especially the scent of post-rain in soil, a bowl of self-regulatory salted peanuts or the ‘right kind’ of music is often more likely to get me ‘in the zone’.

Emmy: Who was your favourite writer or story when you were younger?

Jamie: Ooof. So many to pick from.

I was always obsessed with the surreal and fantastical so loved following Alice down the rabbit-hole, climbing over the wall into the magical garden of Oscar Wilde’s selfish giant and whizzing around in Miss Frizzle’s magic schoolbus…

But, not to dismiss the fantastic collection of award-winning storytellers and poets I bathed in the words of throughout my childhood, I’m gonna go with my mum. Not just because she’s an exceptional wordsmith but because her passion for creating is so well and truly infectious, I’ve never fully recovered!

Emmy: What were you passionate about when you were a child?

Jamie: I’ve had so many passions over the years, it’s hard to keep track (and many of them are still liable to spontaneously spring up out of patient dormancy when I least expect it, to rescue me any time I draw dangerously close to suffering from excessive levels of seriousness); a few that spring to mind are Crash Bandicoot on the PS1, nonsense poems, and the feeling of indignation that came with the discontinuation of Heinz Sausage & Beans pizzas! Also, waterfalls, the patterns on leaves and… schoolwork.

Emmy: What is your favourite thing about being neurodivergent?

Jamie: My favourite thing about being neurodivergent? Either my capacity to hyperfocus and make connections between different ideas or the moments when I rediscover where I left the TV remote (on top of the living room door) or my bank card (one month later, beneath my pillow).

Emmy: What is your favourite thing about writing and creating?

Jamie: The tingling feeling that dances through my body when I’ve taken a mess of ideas and somehow sucked them out of me and transformed them into an, actually, pretty decent artistic creation.

Emmy: Do you think being neurodivergent impacts your creativity in any way?

Jamie: I think my creativity is massively influenced by my neurodivergence, partly because my experience of being neurodivergent has given me so much to explore in campaigning for a more just and equitable society. But also because, without it, I don’t think that I would get locked on to the subjects I write about in the same way nor find the connections between words to express how I feel about them. It can also be awkward when I have eight different projects I’m ‘working on’ at any one given moment and I’m also supposed to find time to ‘do life’. Though, I’d argue it’s usually life that’s the real inconvenience in those situations!

Emmy: What would you say to encourage any young, aspiring writers or creatives reading this?

Jamie: Write. Create. Do it.

Listen to which ideas make your body tingle and make them reality. Don’t wait for permission or validation. Don’t stop cos other people say you must. Never focus on a back-up plan more than a dream. It doesn’t need to win awards to be good. As soon as you create art, you cease to be an aspiring artist and become an artist. You can dabble in what you do; writing doesn’t have to be everything to you. Some people will hate what you create; it doesn’t matter. You are good enough.

You can find James @jamfrankly on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, and
Say It Loud / @sayitloudmcr (Insta).

Most recently, Jamie has been published in Hidden Voice Anthology.

Changeling Annual 2023 will be published on May 29 — keep an eye out for updates by following our Instagram.

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