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A chat with Hollie McNish

A brief chat with spoken word artist, writer, poet, workshop facilitator and mum, Hollie McNish, ahead of her performance at Folkestone Quarterhouse for International Women’s Day.
Why do you do what you do?

Forced! No, but well, sort of. I’ve been writing poems all my days, love it. But it was just a hobby. I didn’t really think of it like that, more a diary I guess. Then a met a guy when I was 21 (now the father of my child) who really pushed me into going to an open mic night and recording my stuff. So really, that’s why. Then I kept getting asked to do gigs, which was more luck than anything I guess. (And hard work too!). But yeah, it was never the aim.

How do literature and creative festivals empower women? 

I think it’s so important festival. Last year I went to the Women Of the World meal in London which had lots of people who’d established the festival in other countries and one of the women couldn’t make it as she had been shot. For setting up the festival in her country. That’s what it means. For some, it’s life threatening to give women this sort of space.

I work with so many brilliant poets, lots of them female: Deanna Rodger, Vanessa Kisuule, Laurie Bolger, Sabrina Mahfouz, Bridget Minamore. They do so much and care so much and constantly inspire me to remember this stuff is important.

Do we still need feminism?

Do you think that creative events like this can be useful, or is just masking over the structural and political issues?

I think creativity really is one of the best parts of humanity. I’ve no idea why the hell we’re on this planet but creativity seems to be a big part of it’s pleasure. It also often brings out the structural and political issues I think and makes them easy to engage with in so many different ways. I’ve definitely felt before like I’m not being practical enough by doing poetry – my last job was working in planning and youth work. But actually, it is. It doesn’t have to be, but it can be. Hearing midwives say they’ve snuck my poems into hospital wards is probably the current highlight!

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