In October 2020, 14 year-old Fatma Mohiuddin was named as the Birmingham Young Poet Laureate for 2020-22. During her tenure in the role, Fatma is expected to produce new poems and work to promote poetry across the city of Birmingham, UK. In addition, she will represent the city during the 2022 Commonwealth Games taking place in Birmingham and the surrounding areas, as well as during the Coventry 2021 City of Culture events.
We spoke to Fatma about her achievement and her passion for poetry. Here’s what she had to say.
Please tell us a bit about yourself
My name is Fatma Mohiuddin, I am 14 years-old and I live in Birmingham. Currently, I am in year 9 in school. I am the Birmingham Young Poet Laureate but in my spare time I also enjoy playing netball.
What got you interested into reading and writing poetry?
I’ve always enjoyed writing, but I started writing poetry regularly when I was around 11 years-old in year 7 in school. I joined a spoken word poetry club in school and I started writing a lot more often. This club also opened my eyes to performance and how you can experiment with the way you perform your work, which can really elevate your whole poem.
What is one achievement you are most proud of to date?
The achievement I am most proud of is becoming Birmingham Young Poet Laureate. This is because entering for the role was the first time I had actually put my poetry out for other people to see. This is why I really was not expecting to actually get the role but I am extremely happy I did as it has provided me with many opportunities that I could not have imagined otherwise.
What is the one thing you hope to achieve through your poetry?
I believe that words are such a powerful tool that can be used to initiate conversations about topics and stereotypes that may otherwise be considered taboo or ignored. Because of this, I hope to use my poetry to challenge stereotypes that we have in place in our current society and help break down the stigma surrounding many topics such as equality and mental health. I also hope to inspire young people to start writing and gain confidence in their own words. Many young people are held back by themselves and their own self doubt so I hope my poetry and performances will be able to help them gain confidence and eventually start sharing their own work for people to see.
Who is your favorite writer/poet and what is one piece that inspires you?
It’s really difficult to choose one poet only who I look up to. I think someone who has always inspired me is Sylvia Plath, because she was writing poems about topics ahead of her time. Her poems about mental health and feminism are particularly interesting. However, there are a lot of modern day poets whose work I also enjoy, these include Rupi Kaur, especially her short and visual quotes, Amal Kassir and Carol Ann Duffy.
What is a message you would give students or upcoming writers/poets?
The biggest piece of practical advice I would give someone trying to get into writing is to write as much as possible, even if you are writing a few lines or just a brief verse. Every time someone writes, they improve their poetry and develop as a poet, so it’s extremely important to always keep practicing. Another piece of advice would be to never let anyone, especially yourself, get in the way of you achieving amazing things. This can be applied to anything you are passionate about, but especially poetry. So much of writing is self expression, and when a poet performs they often put themselves and their words in a position of vulnerability. This takes a certain degree of courage and to progress as a poet it’s so important to have confidence to elevate your pieces and performance. So no matter what you are writing about, try and build confidence in yourself and your words
What is your favorite poem you have written yourself?
My favorite poem I have written myself is a poem called “Beautiful”. The poem is centered around mental health and briefly discusses feelings that many people will be able to relate to, but predominantly the poem is about seeing the beauty inside ourselves no matter what our circumstances or what we are facing.