Demi Anter is an internationally acclaimed poet and spoken word artist orginally from California, now working and based between Berlin and London. She works in film, photography, performance and design and she has performed at Glastonbury Festival, Loud Poet’s ‘Best of Fringe’ and BBC Radio London. She has also won an impressive number of poetry slams. Abi Willock catches up with her in an exclusive interview on our favourite topic - poetry.
Abi: Have you always wanted to become a poet?
Demi: I enjoyed creative writing at an early age. I don’t know if I realised that you could “be” a poet professionally until later on in life, but I certainly loved writing and reading poems. At age 16, watching a YouTube video of Anis Mojgani at a poetry slam was the first thing that made me go, WOW, I want to do THAT.
Abi: What inspires your writing?
Demi: Though I do sit down and “choose” to write when I have an idea for something, I think I started writing when I felt overwhelmed and knew no other way of communicating my feelings. So, big emotions spur me on. But more specific topics that inspire me include: gender equality, mental health, mothers, travel, Berlin, new languages, animals and the natural world.
Abi: What is your greatest achievement in your career so far?
Demi: I think, more so than a single thing like publishing a book or performing on a stage like Glastonbury, my biggest achievement has been being able to consistently perform professionally for this long. I started when I was 18 and am 31 now. I feel incredibly lucky to have found my way as a spoken word artist. It’s not the most straight forward career path, but I love it.
Abi: What do you love most about poetry?
Demi: When I read a poem that challenges my imagination, making me see images or consider scenarios that have never occurred to me before — that excites me (and makes me jealous of the author, usually!). I also love the pang of recognition that comes when you read or hear a poem that speaks so wholly to something you have felt, and usually have struggled to put words to. There’s a communal experience, watching someone share their innermost thoughts, that is kind of unlike any other art form — and that is magic.
Abi: What is your favourite book?
Demi: It’s impossible to pick one, but a few of the books that have influenced me most are: Berlin: Imagine a City (Rory MacLean), Ways of Seeing (John Berger), Running in the Family (Michael Ondaatje — it includes my favourite poem, “The Cinnamon Peeler”) and The Years (Annie Ernaux).