*** Erin Summers interviews Islington neighbour Natasha Anne Kelleher about her poetry, and passion for the Barbican
Natasha looking at her poems for the Aldgate In Winter Exhibition 2021
I first met Natasha through Kate Willoughby, who I interviewed for my first Interview with a Local for Barbican Life back in the Summer edition in 2021. She kindly invited a few creative types to get together for a coffee, and I remember being instantly inspired by Natasha’s spirit. So it was a pleasure to sit down with her and hear a bit more about her beautifully written poems, and get to know the person behind the pen!
Erin – Hi Natasha, thank you so much for finding some time to sit down for a chat. First off, could you please introduce yourself to our lovely readers?
Natasha – Thank you Erin, it’s my pleasure! I was born and raised in North Yorkshire but left for London when I was 19 and have been here ever since. I studied at London Metropolitan University, completing a 4 year BA (Hons) Degree in Business Management of creative enterprise and tourism. I then went on to work as Director of Funding for The Children’s Film Unit. From there I went on to study Drama at The City Literary Institute and did various theatre/film/voiceover and corporate work after completing my drama course.
I’ve always been passionate about poetry and writing, but it wasn’t until 2018 when I set about my creative pursuits again building my poetry blog bit.ly/EMOETRY . During lockdown I found myself with plenty of spare time to write – which was one positive to come out of the whole experience. Since then, I’ve had 3 poems published in a book called The Unchanging Traveller, and am currently sewing with the Costume Designer Sasha Keir for The City of London’s pageant play about Thomas Becket, also known as Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Thomas of London and later Thomas à Becket. He was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1162 until his murder in 1170. London’s Turbulent Son is on at the Guildhall Yard 17th/18th June and I’ve also been commissioned to write a poem!
Erin – Gosh, you certainly like to keep yourself busy! Plus you’ve got quite a collection of poems on your website too. Where do you get your inspiration from?
Natasha – My inspiration comes from everything in the world, whatever strikes me as interesting, fascinating, the human condition, current affairs, nature, art love, relationships etc. Inspiration is an intangible thing; it often comes when least expected and often I do not have to sit down and think I am going to write a poem – rather an idea strikes me and I am compelled to write it down before the idea has been lost or forgotten.
Erin – That’s true, spontaneity is often key. Can you share any of your favourites with us?
Natasha – Although I don’t like to categorise my poems as one being more favourable to me over another, I just hope some of them resonate with other people and they adopt one of them as their favourite. However, as Shakespeare was a brilliant writer, I am particularly fond of the 3 I wrote about him: Shakespeare’s Legacy, Shakespeare’s Legacy II, Shakespeare’s Visage and a poem entitled Words Words Words. They are on my blog if you would like to read them.
Erin – Gosh, they are very good. I really love your style of writing and I’m sure many of our readers will find themselves getting into a bit of a rabbit hole if they visit your website! A few favourites of mine are Rustling Mumurs, Honeyed Isle, Shadow and Unlocked Unleashes Unabated.
Natasha – Thank you Erin, that’s very kind.
Erin – So have you always been creative and into writing?
Natasha – I started writing aged 19; they were very innocent childish poems, yet I guess you write from experience. As you live in the world you instinctively develop a true reading of both it and the people within – then your writing gradually develops accordingly. I love writing poetry because it allows me to write a story in a very concise way, yet I am still waiting for the day when my focus is there to write my life story and other fiction and drama. I did write a short piece in lockdown called CORON-OH-NO!! VIRUS according to THE NORONA SISTERS which was a BBC competition about how the lockdown had affected you personally. I didn’t win but received an positive email to thank me for my submission.
Erin – Well that’s very encouraging! You obviously have an exceptional talent and it’s being noticed. Where else have your poems been featured?
Natasha – There’s been quite a few, and some locals may have come across them. I have had 3 poems in the Barbican Life Magazine: Womanhood, Unlocked Unleashed Unabated and Treessence. I also had six poems in the City of London’s Aldgate in Summer and Aldgate in Winter Exhibitions in 2021: Symphonic Soul’s Tonic and Unlocked Unleased Unabated in the summer exhibition and in the winter exhibition: Ceil et Etoiles, Mental Stealth and Show of Pearly Snow.
The Unchanging Traveller by artist Carolyn Blake is a new book which includes: Stilted Strife to Life, Remembering Leamington and Reminisce Youthful Bliss.
Erin – That’s pretty impressive, I’m glad you find so much joy in writing, you obviously enjoy it immensely. And to finish, although not a Barbican resident, can you share any favourite or secret spots you find yourself particularly drawn to in the area?
Natasha – Although I live in Islington, the next borough to where the Barbican is, my connection to it goes back many years. I once worked for someone who ran his business from Shakespeare Tower. I had an ex-boyfriend who lived in the Barbican and I also have friends who live there currently. Artistically, my connection to the Barbican is through my endeavours with Culture Mile. I have been involved in 4 projects: the 500 Voices Choir Performance at The Barbican Centre, The Move Performance at London Wall, the Imagine Fund project and I was on the panel to re-design the questionnaire and stipulations for the new Imagine Fund 2022. I also graduated from my BA (Hons) Degree at the Barbican Centre in 1996 which was a real honour so you can see my connections to the Barbican are many and varied.
My favourite part of the Barbican has to be the water and garden features at the centre and the residents’ gardens where I can sit with my friends when I visit.
A secret little spot is a half-circled piece of the London Wall where you can sit in peace and ruminate on the day and the world. I love the idea of sitting in this space – the past and the present moulded into one space. History fascinates me so I love the Barbican’s evolution.
My other favourite place is St. Giles’ Church, where I have attended book fairs, Christmas Cringle Mass and generally have wandered around on other occasions taking in the wonderfully other worldly atmosphere that this ancient church resolutely holds. One of its most famous parishioners being William Shakespeare himself. I love the fact that the ancient is still here in amongst the modern world – an ever-present thread seemingly unable to be broken.
At the back of the Barbican Tube Station are quaint Dickensian streets and alleys with small buildings which still house businesses, yet you feel like you are in another time when you walk through them. St. Bartholomew’s Hospital where William Wallace (leader of the first war of Scottish Independence) was hung drawn and quartered (just outside the hospital walls and memorialised by a plaque to his memory) are fascinating to take in. St. Bartholomew’s Church (where Four Weddings filmed for the outside shot of the church) is another delight to wander around. Another step back through time which I find irresistible.
If you look at the right of the building whilst facing the walls of the hospital you can also see a small statue set back within its walls of King Henry VIII. I am sure it must be the only statue in London of this very unpopular king. St. Paul’s Cathedral is another wonderful monument designed by architect Sir Christopher Wren after the original St. Paul’s was burned down in the Great Fire of London in 1666.
Erin – I’m surprised I haven’t bumped into you as we seem to frequent the same places around here! We are so lucky to call this area of London our home. There’s just so much history and so many interesting things to discover – even if you’ve been here for years!
Thanks once again Natasha, it was a pleasure to sit down and chat with you!