Q&A interview Shaine Singer from Undateables For World Poetry Day
Shaine Singer appears on the show The Undateables. Due to his mild learning difficulty he can sometimes struggle to communicate certain things, but thanks to his talent for poetry, he is often seen charming his dates through the medium of verse.
In the clip above, Shaine takes to the stage at an open mic night and recites his poetry to Gemma - a former school crush. Will he win her over? Watch full episodes of the Undateables here.
For World Poetry Day, we interviewed Shaine about his love of poetry, his influences and inspirations, and he even treats Am I Normal readers to an exclusive poem!
Hello Shaine! Let's start off by asking you what inspires your poetry?
Lots of things! Usually, it’s something on the news. Sometimes I’ll write about something humorous, and sometimes it’s more dark. I like apocalyptic stuff! It can get quite deep…
Of all the poems that you’ve written, do you
have a favourite?
I think I have loads of favourites but it’s hard to choose! There are too many to say!
Do you have any favourite poets or writers?
Definitely. Spike Milligan, Pam Ayres… she’s a Northern lass and her poems are all very funny. They often touch on childhood memories. John Keats – he was a romantic poet. Alfred Tennyson, Mary Shelley… there are lot’s of writers! Shakespeare was another one. I did Shakespeare a couple of years back. In 2015. I played Bottom! The theatre group I’m part of is called Double Act. I’ve been with them since about 2004.
Has anyone ever mentioned the irony of your
name being ‘Singer’, but that you chose the poetry path?
Yes, they have! It’s a sewing machine and a car too, so that’s two other career paths I could have gone down! I can’t drive though.
When you’re writing your poetry do you have a routine, or a preferred space for doing it in?
Usually it’ll be at home, or out and about. Sometimes the beach in Bournemouth will help. I like the feeling of being windswept.
What do you do when you get writer’s block?
If I’ve been writing and I feel I’ve got writer’s block and I’m like “oh no!” because I’m not getting any ideas, and no ideas are finding me, then I’ll just think “right, it’s time for a cup of tea” and I’ll go back to it twenty minutes later.
Do you always go with your first draft or do you write a poem and re-write it again?
I re-write it all the time. Sometimes if I’ve got a cracker and it’s SO good, then I don’t bother, but if it needs tweaking and changing then yes, I’ll take a step back from it and go back to it again at a later time.
How do you deal with nerves when you get up on stage to perform?
I do get nervous! Sometimes, I go with the flow and I just enjoy it but sometimes I get stage fright and freeze, and think “oh bother!” If I relax though, it all comes back to me.
Have you found that having a mild learning disability has restricted you, or perhaps liberated you in any way?
I think it has liberated me at times, and writing has got easier for me over time. I used to find it hard, but then I had a lot of help from youth workers and teachers who would tell me I could go somewhere with my poetry. I didn’t always believe in myself, but they did. A friend of mine who passed away told his family just before he died that he believed I could make it. That was really nice.
Shaine Singer presents a special poem, written just for us!
ARE WE NORMAL?
Are we the same?
Well, no. If so, we'd all be boring.
Are we robots or Artificial Intelligence, or are we droids?
No, we are normal. We are humans. We are one of the same.
Are we chalk and cheese? Are we two peas in a pod… or even peas and carrots?
Well possibly, but similar.
We all have our paths for adventure, love, companionships and friendships
Oh, and great friends you can depend on!
Life is a strange game.
We learn, we cry, we make, we break.
We break promises, but we try to keep them as we don't mean to weep.
We all just make of what we can do - as gifts and talents are the thing that makes us all human.
We share, we compare, we love, we dance, we act.
We make art, we make magic happen.
Drink tea to solve all issues and problems.
As really, we are normal.
We are as one, which is where we all belong.
As we really don’t want to make a fuss.
By Shaine Singer
Do you feel that you are able to express things
through poetry which you’d otherwise struggle to say?
Yeah, putting it down on paper helps me express it better, rather than saying it out loud. If you find it difficult to bring up an issue with someone, putting it in poetry can help. You don’t want to shout anything out loud, you might deafen someone!
You’ve released three poetry books… do you have any others in the pipeline?
I do! It’s completely different to my previous books – it’s almost like a novel but it’s for both kids and adults… it’s for everyone, because it’s about being different. It features insects and strange creatures that you’ve never seen or heard of before who have the ability to talk back to people. Some are disfigured or have a bad disability, and the story touches on the subject of difficult love. It’s also aimed at a range of people with different sexual orientations and genders. Straight, gay and transgender people will all be able to relate!
What would you say to anyone who would like to
follow their dreams of becoming a poet?
Go with the flow. Follow your heart. Everyone has a dream, so go with what you feel comfortable with - just keep believing in yourself.