Welcome to episode 20 of the Media Will Eat Itself podcast. In this episode, Shaun is joined by Manchester-based poet, Andrew McMillan. He is author of the first ever poetry collection to win The Guardian First Book Award. Andrew is also a lecturer at The Manchester Writing School and a writer in residence at the charity First Story.
Poetry fans, and particularly Andrew’s loyal followers, may find themselves disappointed that the conversation is far from poetic. Instead, Andrew and Shaun discuss what it’s like to be a poet and writer in the digital age, and how modern life, mental health and social media influence our creativity.
00:57 The conversation kicks off with an introduction to Andrew, his background in poetry and his move into teaching.
04:11 Poetry is experiencing a popularity burst, so why isn’t it a more financially lucrative creative endeavour? We may find an explanation by way of recognising how well young poets market themselves across social media.
"People can build audiences for themselves in a way that might not have been possible 15-20 years ago."
06:32 How does Andrew leverage his Twitter presence?
08:51 How does Andrew use social tools to market himself, or does he leave the marketing side of things to his publisher? Our conversation leads to a discussion about authenticity and hyper irony.
11:58 What role does social media play in the wider poetry community? Let’s talk Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and YouTube and the part each plays in the dissemination of poetry.
15:42 TikTok may seem like the inaccessible social platform for anyone over the age of 21, but it’s proving to be a game-changer as an outlet for creativity.
17:27 When we reach the topic of Andrew’s teaching credentials, and the difference between young people now and 10-15 years ago, we inevitably move to the issue of anxiety and mental health.
21:56 The difference between traditional publishing and self-publishing. Do young people care how they consume content? Are ebooks preferential over physical books?
"I'm still a big believer in the traditional routes, as it means that someone's looked at it; it's been edited; it's had to pass through some sort of quality control."
25:16 Is Audible a platform of choice for poets? It seems a natural and obvious choice of digital media to share poetry, but this may not be the case. At least for now.