Walthamstow poet picked for national ’emerging poets’ scheme

Cat Turhan’s poem ‘Gorgon’ won the borough’s poetry prize for adults last year
By Victoria Munro

Cat Turhan (right) after winning the borough's best adult poem last December
Cat Turhan (right) after winning the borough’s best adult poem last December

A Walthamstow woman who wrote the borough’s “best adult poem” last year is one of three poets picked for a national mentorship scheme.

The Emerging Poets Development Scheme was launched by independent publisher Out-Spoken Press last December, in partnership with Spread The Word and New Writing North.

Walthamstow poet Cat Turhan was picked alongside Ian Irwin and Elizabeth Pywell to take part in the first ever round of the scheme, aimed at readying their work for publication.

Last December, Cat’s poem Gorgon won the local adults’ prize in the borough’s annual poetry competition, judged by local poet and T.S. Elliot prizewinner Joelle Taylor.

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Speaking to the Echo at the time, Cat said her winning entry was inspired by a Zoom art club in lockdown, when she was randomly assigned the gorgon card from Magic: The Gathering to inspire her next piece. 

The challenge coincided with the murder of Sarah Everard so the poem became a way of dealing with “feeling angry and unable to get vengeance for that death”.

(Credit: Cat Turhan / Waltham Forest Poetry Competition)

Cat, who moved to Walthamstow in 2018, credited her success to the “amazing poetry community in Waltham Forest”, adding: “Walthamstow is an inherently arty community and the poetry aspect is absolutely alive and kicking.

“The poets network is really active and so many people regularly contribute, it’s been a real source of inspiration.”

As part of the development scheme, Cat will receive one-to-one mentoring, craft workshops and sessions on professional development and navigating the publishing industry.

Founder and managing editor of Out-Spoken Press, Anthony Anaxagorou, said: “I’m thrilled to be working with these three incredible poets, whose work seems to be pushing form and thought while also being totally invested in language.”

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