FORWARD ARTS FOUNDATION: When did you start writing poetry and what drew you into it?

DAVID HARSENT: When I was about twelve I read the Border Ballads. From that moment on, I was committed; no way back.

FAF: Please tell us about the genesis of your shortlisted poem. Is it part of a collec2on or sequence? Where can a reader find more by you?

DH: Salt is a group of short poems that have a common tone and mood. The intermittent mention of salt has to do, I think, with its use as a means to excoriate, to the fact that it is one of the Sin Eater’s ritual items (along with water and bread), that it is curative, and that it plays a crucial role in superstition. My last collection was Fire Songs. It is (or should be) in ‘all good bookshops’.

FAF: What is next for you as a poet?

DH: To keep on keeping on.

FAF: What advice would you give to anyone starting out in poetry today?

DH: Read everything.