'I was so stoked to get this, I cried when they announced my name': Hollie McNish on winning a £10,000 spoken word award
Top performance poet Hollie McNish has spoken about her emotions on hearing she had won the £10,000 Arts Foundation award for spoken word last week.
She told Write Out Loud: "I was so stoked to get this, I cried when they announced my name. It's not just the money, which is unbelievable and means that a year's rent is actually covered, and that I can work on so many projects that I have had to put aside for the last five years or so. It's also the idea of getting a fellowship with the poetry - poetry that I always thought was pretty worthless growing up - or just not 'proper poetry'." She added that she felt that the award meant that "a bit of the snobbery around different types of poetry" was "being stamped down".
She is known for broadcasting her work on YouTube, and two of her poems – ‘Embarrassed’ about breastfeeding in public, and the anti-racism ‘Mathematics’ – have had 1.3 million and 1.8 million views to date. Her writing career started at the age of seven when she started writing a diary in poems. In 2009 she became the UK slam poetry champion and subsequently travelled to France to perform in the world slam.
Her award-winning audio release 'Push Kick' described her own journey “through the beauty, brilliance and bollocks of having a baby”. McNish appeared with this show at over 30 UK venues, including teenage mother groups and village schools. Her new collection will be published by Burning Eye in April, to coincide with the start of a national tour.
Last Wednesday she performed in the Purcell Room at London’s Southbank Centre with four other contenders for the Arts Foundation award. Ross Sutherland, Jemima Foxtrot, Sabrina Mahfouz, and Rob Auton will each receive £1,000 from the Arts Foundation.