Writers Influences 10: J. Mitra on Wendy Cope and Poly Styrene

Today’s writers influences feature from J. Mitra does something we haven’t touched on before – the very fact where as a writer Jemima was unable to name just one writer let do two different features, but wanted to talk about the two writers at the same time.

“Undoubtedly, Poly Styrene and Wendy Cope have been monumental to my writing process and hugely influential when it comes to the narratives, issues and voices I bring to life in my poetry.” She begins “Styrene’s style, both physically with her eccentric hats and braces, and lyrically with her gutsy punk commentaries on sexism, capitalism and racism, has inspired me to not only embrace my own identity, however odd that may be, but also to write passionately about subjects many often shy away from.”

“I fell in love with Wendy Cope’s The Orange poem when I stumbled across it online.” She then carries on explaining how I fell in love myself with some of my favourite poets also “The simplicity but profundity of that poem gave me hope in a year of what feels like eternal hopelessness. The conclusion of The Orange is the destination I am hoping for – a life of contentment in simple things and good company. Her wit and astute observation regarding the dismissal of women (even when they are right about something) in He Tells Her is such an amusing poem and definitely struck a chord with me personally. Her poetry is very accessible and confessional too, that is a stylistic choice that I’ve adopted in my own writing, accessibility is really important to me – if my writing is too abstract to resonate with anyone, then is there any point? I want my work to touch people the way Wendy Cope’s writing has touched me.”

 “Thematically and structurally, Cope and Styrene’s work has helped shape my own writing.” She describes last in conclusion how they have affected her own work “I have borrowed from their use of rhyme, wit and honesty when it comes to discussing my own life experiences in my poetry. Grit, fury, passion: X-Ray Spex’s left wing punk music fuels my angriest pieces. I often listen to music as a write too. Punk is great for hyping me to write something particularly stinging. It also helps put me in the mindset to perform on stage. I was listening to X-Ray Spex on repeat before I delivered my speech at the BLM Hull protest. Nothing gets the adrenaline going like clever punk music.”

J. Mitra is a British Indian, non-binary, punk poet, artist and freelance writer based in Hull. They currently study English Literature at the University of Manchester and tutor GCSE English privately. Their work has been published in Soundsphere Magazine, PUSH Magazine and Acumen Poetry. They are also a founding member of Hull’s poetry collective No Larkin About and started up Hull’s first under 30s spoken word night at Off the Road live lounge – Word Journeys. Alongside written work, J. Mitra has performed spoken word at BBC’s Contains Strong Language Festival, Engage for Change Festival, Awareness Festival and was runner up in a Spoken Weird poetry slam in Halifax. Currently, they are working on their debut poetry pamphlet exploring their experience growing up as a person of colour in a predominantly white town.

Wendy Cope was raised in Kent, England, where her parents often recited poetry to her. She earned a BA in history and trained as a teacher at Oxford University. Cope taught in primary schools for many years before publishing her first book of poetry, Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis (1986).

Marianne Joan Elliott-Said known by the stage name Poly Styrene, was a British musician, singer-songwriter, and frontwoman for the punk rock band X-Ray Spex.  

Andy N is the author of four full length poetry collections - the most recent being the Streets were all we could see. He is also the host / creator of 'Spoken Label' - a author / writer chat series as well as Podcast series such as Reading in Bed, Comics Unity, Wrestle-Up and the Koll, Andy N and Amanda show. He also ambient music under the name of Ocean in a Bottle. His official blog is onewriterandhisplc.blogspot.com Occasionally he does sleep.