In conversation with Amelie MJ, Guest Editor for our twelfth issue

Our twelfth issue has been edited by Amelie Maurice-Jones, a 20-year old English Literature student at Durham University. She has been published in a number of journals including The Cadaverine, Siblini Art and Literature Journal, and Durham University’s Palatinate, and has been placed in a number of competitions, including in Brighton’s Peacock Poetry Prize and the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award.

She enjoys walks along the seafront, good quality coffee, and any music with a really heavy bassline.

What made you want to get involved with HEBE?

As a teenager I was twice published in HEBE, and so I understand the excitement that comes from seeing your work in print as a young writer. HEBE provides a platform for young writers that is inclusive and accessible, and this is so important as ensures that when young people speak, they are listened to. I wanted to get involved with HEBE to uphold and make space for the creative energy of young people, which I know from experience to be so vital in fostering confidence, boldness, and creativity.

Our issue twelve theme is ‘energy’- what does energy mean to you?

As someone quite content to just spend all day painting or reading on the sofa, energy in the active, physical sense has never really meant that much to me. For me, energy is creativity: it’s the spark that fuels the growth and development of thoughts and ideas. It’s what allows for something to be made from nothing, and it’s the thrill that you get when making something new, albeit this be a painting, poem, or intellectual breakthrough.

How do you approach your role as editor?

I approach it with pleasure. It’s an honour to have the opportunity to read such an excellent selection of poems so thoroughly. I study English Literature and so I’m used to reading poetry critically, yet the mindset and style of reading required for editing is so refreshingly different from that suitable for an academic setting. It’s exciting to read a poem with the intention of really discovering what makes it tick, and then working with the poet to embolden that as much as possible. I’m always mindful that making art is incredibly personal, and so aim to provide detailed explanations for any changes I think should be made to a piece of writing. It’s important to keep in mind that the value and merit of the poem is already there, and that the editor’s job is merely to enhance that, and so providing detailed reasons for changing aspects of a poem establishes a relationship of respect between the writer and editor. Editing is also creative. It’s a chance for the writer to be opened up to new patterns and possibilities within their piece, and in this sense it enriches the whole experience of appreciating and understanding the poem.

What inspires you as a writer?

Noticing details and patterns that aren’t immediately obvious and maybe everyone else didn’t notice, and then finding ways to pen this down. In this ways toying with words becomes a means to alter and call into question what is standard and familiar. Natural light also inspires me because it comes in so many different colours (from morning light to sunset) and takes so many different forms.

What advice would you give to young creatives looking to get published?

Be prepared to write a lot of bad stuff before you get to the good stuff. Don’t get scared or put off if all the material you’re coming out with isn’t immediately at the standard you would hope— keep going and you’ll foster an individual style and voice to be proud of. If you’re in a creative rut, you will get out of it, just keep writing. Also, read poetry and keep up to date with journals and magazines you enjoy the work in, but try not to compare yourself to the published poetry you read in these places. I know how easy it is to feel disheartened when you read the winning entries of a competition and think that it’s somehow out of your league to write like that, but this really isn’t the case. Poetry is such a personal thing and it’s also flexible. It’s almost incomprehensible to think about just how many ways language and words can be handled creatively, why is why it’s so important not to compare yourself to others as excellent poetry can take on so many different forms.