Bernie-the-Bolt is our very own Twisted Firestarter.
Updated: Mar 28, 2021
Bernie-the-Bolt is a force to be reckoned with, a lyricist and a truth teller - she basically tells it like it is. She is direct and to the point and I find that so refreshing. I first met Bernie at her Spoken Word Night in Haworth, and I instantly knew we would work together. She has asked me to co host with her and I couldn't think of anyone I would rather work with. I am so excited Bernie has joined Inter-Arts and is currently doing work for our on-going group project 'Invisible Made Visible' Find out more about Bernie (Firestarter) Bolt below. Fiona Love (Founder of Inter-Arts)
What is your creative background?
I come from a family of creative people as I used to play the drums, my brother is a guitarist, my sister used to play the trumpet, my dad used to play the accordion, and my mum likes to write, but hasn’t written anything for a while now. I have always loved English and language as this was my favourite subject at school, and this inspired me to want to write, that and different life events too. Creatively I have performed in local schools and have been involved in using my poetry as part of activism when I was at university to raise awareness about subject matters such as HIV/AIDS, Abuse, Bullying & Hate Crime. I got to meet the parents of late MP Jo Cox and gave them a poem I had written about their daughter and her influence on society which was very humbling, and this is up in Bradford College Lister Building Café for all to see.
I have also featured on local radio stations, in local newspapers, and in 2018 I set up my own night called High Five in Haworth in order to provide a safe space for fellow poets and aspiring poets to share and perform their work. I have performed at different open mic nights in West Yorkshire & further afield too as to develop my confidence, style, delivery and lyricism.
When did you first write your first poem and what was it about?
The very first poem I wrote was about the mining community when I attended a Writing Workshop at The National Coal Mining Museum in Wakefield. This dates back to April 04th 2016. It was called Black Dust and tells the story of children who were made to go down the mines to work.
What inspires you?
I am inspired by Political Matters, TV/Film, Music, Daily Observations, Conversations with other creatives and people, things I read in newspapers or books, life events, other people’s poetry to name a few Cayn White, Luke Hoggarth, Rowland Crowland, Ruth E. Cockburn, Keiron Higgins, things I overhear people say which I think “oh that will make for a good lyric in a poem”, injustice and inequality as they aspire me to want to write.
Describe your style?
I have a very kooky style and I’d say it was quite punk and individual to me. My poetry is kind of like beat poetry as I create quirky little rhythms for my poems, depending upon what I am writing about and how I want the lyrics to come across. I like to focus on the phonetics of words and like to play about with different sounds. I also like to use song titles and film titles in my poems which is where experiencing with word play comes into things, as I find it very potent and enigmatic.
What female writer do you like? How has her work changed your perspective?
I am a major fan of Victoria Wood. I feel she was very underrated in her time; her writing was remarkable. I know she was mainly a stand-up comic, however, I feel she brings a certain sense of poetic license into her observational story telling through her satire and whit. Her lyrics for her songs and the way she engaged in conversation so naturally, truthfully and openly with her audience was so inventive, as they captured the very essence of different cultures and everyday life events beautifully. Her work has changed my perspective as it has driven me to challenge myself to write more observational pieces like she did about subjects such as sex, work life, gender inequality and just general things of everyday life like people crossing the road without looking, people who get right on your wick, and people who always try to outsmart one another. I want to become more like Victoria in my writing and better develop an eye for observational story telling through poetry. Her work has broadened my knowledge about everyday life events and the things which sometimes society seem to frown upon or get confused, embarrassed or weird about such as sex, package holidays, reincarnation, making eye contact, how polite you should be when people on the checkout try to make small talk with you and you do not really want to get into a conversation with them. There’ll never be another person like her she was one of a kind.
What would you change for Women in our society today?
I'd make a change for women not to be sexualised or viewed as people who are just there to make someone's tea, do their washing, cleaning, ironing, and/or other such domestic duties associated with female gendered roles. It's important that women are viewed as individuals in their own right and not as a statistic, sexual objects or public property. I'd also make a change for women who are exploited by terrorist's and try to find ways of keeping them safe and understanding the different risks these situations pose.
What do you like to write about?
Politics, daily life events and observations, music, sex, things that annoy me such as rude people, and people who don’t look before they cross the road then make out it’s your fault when they’re the ones who clearly didn’t look, things that cause controversy and shock people, things that have hurt me or wound me up such as work, and people who lie to me, use me, and hurt me, injustice, abuse, LGBT+ subject matters, religion, drugs, mental health, and the dystopian future which I have a bit of a fascination with as I’m really inspired by this as it makes for good material.
What have you been doing in lockdown?
I have mainly been working and keeping busy with work, but when I haven’t been working, I have been attending a few online open mic nights via zoom and writing new material. Most of my time has been spent with family who are in my social bubble, but the times when I haven’t been with them, I have been gaining inspiration for new material, listening to vinyl records/spotify, and enjoying solitude.
This interview is part of the Inter-Arts Festival #celebratingwomeneverywhere series connected to the Month of March and #iwd
Go to Bernie-the-Bolt page here on Inter-Arts Festival 'Invisible Made Visible' (our group on-going project's) profile page https://www.interartsfestival.com/bernie-the-bolt
To find out more about Bernie-the-Bolt - https://bernie102.wordpress.com