Q&A with Beth Calverley
Beth Calverley from Bristol took part in our Enterprise course and runs a bespoke poem business. She will be writing a poem for The Prince’s Trust to help amplify the voice of female volunteers and mentors. She shares with us on all things female role models, what to expect from the poem and how the Enterprise course helped her.
"I am a poet, live performer and creative coach. My practice is inspired by collaborations with people.
"Through The Poetry Machine, I co-create poems in conversation with community members of all ages on a manual typewriter, helping them to express their thoughts and feelings through creativity. I start by listening to each person, prompting where needed, and live-craft the poem based on their words and ideas. The poem beautifully translates the essence of what they have expressed.
How has taking part in the Enterprise course helped your business?
When I first contacted my local Prince's Trust team in Bristol, I had already decided to take the leap to become a full-time creative practitioner, but I was experiencing a lot of self-doubts. Being part of the Enterprise course made me realise that people who are experts in business thought that my dream was achievable. They treated me with respect and encouragement. Many of the other people on the course with me were also young creative female or non-binary entrepreneurs, which was brilliant as it shows that more non-males my age are beginning to feel like they belong in the world of business and that it isn't just a 'man's world!'
The biggest challenge to writing is a lack of confidence - despite people telling me they love my work, I still feel like each new poem is terrible. But I keep reminding myself I'm doing something right as my debut collection will be launched in November 2020 (I still can't quite believe it's going to happen though!)
What gave you the motivation to start your business?
I was trying to be a poet on the side while also working full time at another company. Eventually the niggling, powerful sense that I was not doing what I was meant to be doing overwhelmed me. I felt over-stretched, unhappy and full of anxiety.
What do you enjoy about celebrating International Women’s Day?
It's brilliant that organisations want to collaborate with female artists around IWD. Any opportunity to celebrate our personal and collective power is a force for good. I love having a job that means people value my words and want to give me a platform to share my craft. Obviously, it is important to keep this energy going all year round and also to be mindful that many non-binary people, trans women and womxn around the world may not always feel that they are respected or included in the same way.
Who are your female role models?
I'm really lucky to have some badass role models in my family. Both of my parents' mothers experienced prejudice as working women during an era where they weren't fully accepted into the world of business. My grandma was turned down from a job as an accountant because the firm 'only hired women as secretaries' despite being a qualified and intelligent person. My Nanny didn't go to university and worked her way to run her own business. My Mum is an absolute guiding light and inspires me every day. Plus I've had some amazing mentors along the way who have taken me under their wings and helped to build my confidence.
What can we look forward to in the poem?
The poem will be fiery and thoughtful. Grateful and demanding. Brave and vulnerable. I write to work though questions and navigate my way towards an answer. The poem will be full of carefully-crafted images that help the listener, reader or viewer to come along on the journey with me. I hope the poem will inspire people to smile. I hope it will help people of many different walks of life to feel confident and energised to pursue their own dreams, as well as inspiring female business people, who have some spare time, to volunteer as a mentor for The Prince's Trust.