Natasha Helen Crudden is a Spoken Word artist and guitarist living in Dublin. She spoke with Yeah! about poetry, fiction and performance.

You’ve just played Electric Picnic! How was it?

Yeah I got to do a set on Saturday – what an amazing buzz! A little delicate after it though!

Let’s talk about some of your poetry! I like your collection Barbed-Wire Cage (available at Amazon). It’s full of rich imagery related to partying and neon, and lots of sensitive and insightful stuff about relationships and the dynamics between people.

Some of your pieces have a speaker addressing someone specific. Your tone is apologetic in one over perhaps heartache or heartbreak; in another you express gratitude for having met the person in question. Can we discuss that a little? Is Frank – the title of one of your poems – a person or a description?

Frank is actually one of my guitars.

Most of the time I am the speaker, but some of the poems are written from the POV of my friends, like the poem Zero Hour, or some of them are completely abstract – like, I have one written from the POV of an arrow being released from a bow.

cover_natashahelencruddenThat’s really interesting that you got the apologetic tone from some of the poems. The only one I can think of offhand written with that in mind is Different Now, but I haven’t read the book in a long time so there may be quite a few others. I think it’s really cool to hear what other people find in poems, because often the writer sees different aspects of the poem even they didn’t realise were there.

So you say you haven’t read them for a long time ago. Yet you’ve performed a few from the collection too. So do you have to evoke feelings from the past during performances, or is it second nature? Is it rehearsed, or is it ingrained so much that it doesn’t matter?

With the older pieces, once the words start coming out, the memory of the feelings that inspired the pieces come straight to the fore, so it’s pretty easy to switch into that frame of mind.

 What’s your background? Did you do performance in university or English, or Music, or anything like that?

Well I skipped college to work on my writing, but later on I studied creative writing at my local college and got involved in the formation of a local writers’ group. Generally though my education has come from the books I’ve read, the music I’ve listened to and advice from mentors at various different stages.

Do you have a favourite thing that you’ve written? Anything you’re really proudest of?

Of all the pieces I’ve written, the one that means the most to me is The Ballad of Christopher Robin, a poem about a wayward friend of mine who reminded me of the Winnie the Pooh character. Interestingly, another friend would later draw a parallel between the real Christopher Robin (the author, A.A. Milne’s son) and the character from my poem- there were many similarities between the two men. It was the hardest piece I had ever written in that it took so many drafts to convey the message and the character in a way that did him justice. And when it came to recording it for the EP Detonation Day, it was nearly as though the piece itself was resisting being committed to a recording. Every time I went to record it, a string broke, or the power went, or my zoom ran out of batteries and I was stuck in the middle of nowhere. The worst incident was when the jack of my amp broke, and I never did manage to get it fixed. It took professional help to wrestle it onto the EP, but it wouldn’t be the poem it is without putting up a fight!

Who is the best spoken word artist on the scene? If you had to choose someone other than yourself, I mean. Coz you’re not too bad at all, in my view.

With all the incredible spoken word artists out there at the minute, it’s hard to pick, but there are a few that really stand out to me. One of my favourites right from the start was Temper-Mental MissElayneous, and when I began exploring the scene more, some of my fellow Circle Sessions members stood out to me as writers and performers, in particular Shauna Byrne, Daniel Wade and Josey Wales. Those are just a few of my favourites, but there are a huge list of artists that I rate extremely highly as performance poets.

Tell us about your novels and fiction.

My novel Empire Evolution is set in post-Celtic Tiger Ireland, where a top-dog property developer is losing his stranglehold on the country, and  concocts a scheme to cement his power, wealth and legacy over Ireland one and for all by forcing the residents of a town in Wicklow from their homes and using the land for his own malicious gain. Students from a local college stumble upon his plot and a struggle ensues to save the town from annihilation and expose the property developer for the fiend he is. It’s an action/adventure novel, mainly aimed at the often-neglected niche of 18-25 year-olds. I launched it back in November 2014, and I had been writing it since I was a young teenager, so it was incredible to hold the finished book in my hands, and know other people had read it, and enjoyed it.

My next novel, The Katzenjammer Chronicles, is the tale of a young Dublin-based punk band struggling to make it as more than the go-to support act for main stage bands, and maps out their story from garage band to open mic nights, to the recording studio and beyond. It’s very much a work in progress and I hope to have it finished within the next two years or so. I’m also working on a photo-documentary/history book telling the stories of abandoned sites and buildings throughout Ireland. I hope to have that completed towards the end of 2017.

You can get Barbed-Wire Cage at Amazon UK and US. You can follow Natasha Helen Crudden on Facebook and Twitter for details of other works and upcoming performances.