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If you haven’t met Lianne Futia yet, she’s a bright and talented Spoken Word and Performance Poet, and an absolute pleasure to talk to.

Last winter, a buzzing audience heard a group of performance poets compete to be winner of Storyhouse Poetry Slam 2019. And there was Lianne, delighting us with her poems, ranging from the most heartbreaking of topics to ones of sheer joy; Lianne has an eclectic collection without a doubt. She was crowned Slam winner and we were lucky enough to hear more of her poems to close the evening. And as well as writing poems, Lianne’s a most accomplished performer.

This April, I saw Lianne again, at Storyhouse’s Women’s Weekend, where she was Resident Poet, finishing the celebrations with her own poem actually written that day. She told me this was quite a test as she’s inclined to write, ‘When the moment takes me!’, but she succeeded in producing a stunner. Her poem summarised much about the weekend plus a myriad of thoughts from women attending.

Here’s how Lianne closed her poem:

From ‘Stand’:

Stand if you know that these old cinema walls have played the trailer of our lives and our plight to mend what should never have been this broken

Stand if you hope for equality

Both here and globally

It starts with you

It starts with me

So, stand.”  (And yes, the audience certainly stood!)

This week, we met in Storyhouse Kitchen for coffee and chat about her poetry and hectic life.

Lianne has four children, aged between six and thirteen who certainly keep her busy but she’s also studying for her Masters at John Moores University, Liverpool. This includes writing her dissertation, presently called ‘Shaping The Cloth: Memoirs of the Madness that made me’.

Lianne enjoys the course, both the content and technicalities. For example, just six months ago, she found editing difficult, but the strict word counts required are instilling discipline, sharpening her work in the process.

Lianne’s dissertation is very much based on her own life experiences, echoing her childhood in North Wales, where she grew up on a council estate, the eldest of five children of a single mother. This has clearly given her both strong emotional intelligence and an ability to connect with all manner of people.

This shone out in our chat. Lianne writes about issues that move her, often feminist ones, but no subject is off limits. For example, she’s written about Mexican mothers burying their babies underground to escape their little ones being stolen by drug traffickers.

See this snippet:

From ‘Holes’:

“She’s sniffing dry dust, you’re sniffing white stuff

A small girl planted in an arid hole

Too dark and dusty for flowering or growth

Scared hours pass, another day of life’s light stole

She’s hidden from sight

Your notes are ready cylindrically rolled….”

Lianne’s also written about the degradation of women through porn. She’s unafraid to reveal life in all its grittiness, but having said that, Lianne can delight with humour and lightness of touch too. This versatility is one of her many strengths. Another snippet:

From ‘Dad Bods’:

“I’m a Style Icon, a trend setter, a mum bod ambassador

I’ve got the big hips, gravity challenged tits, the worn-out complexion

The droopy flabby structure and the stretched marked texture…”

How did Leanne start writing? Who encouraged her? Her childhood home was by no means book-filled, but in September 2016, Lianne’s old Art teacher contacted her, having discovered a stash of poems Lianne wrote. The teacher loved them, encouraging Lianne to write again. After this, Lianne performed in her first poetry gig and has been writing and actively performing since 2017. Recent gigs have included Focus Wales 2019 and dates booked include The Well Inn Music Festival with Voicebox Collectives on Sept 7th and Voicebox at Wrexfest on Sept 20th.

I was interested to know which writers Lianne particularly values. Very contrasting favourites are TS Eliot and Maya Angelou, especially Angelou’s ‘I know why the caged bird sings’. Recently Lianne fell in love with Gail Honeyman’s ‘Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine’. She appreciated Carol Ann Duffy’s tenure as Poet Laureate, enjoying Duffy’s sharp observations, subtle humour and plain speaking.

It was a genuine pleasure talking with Lianne. She’s a fabulous ambassador for poetry and we’re lucky in Chester to have her very much within our reach!

Find out more about her here.