The People Who Shaped My Writing: Martin Grey


Martin is an experienced and active Nottingham based poet and event organiser who performs extensively across the Midlands, the Edinburgh Fringe and Berlin, winning the 2018 Southwell Folk Festival Slam. He has supported several nationally renowned poets, including Jess Green and Dominic Berry. "Martin makes the ordinary extraordinary, turns the mole hill into the mountain." - Sophie Sparham, Performance Poet



Isabelle: Do you feel your work has been inspired by your influences in any way? To what extent do writers inspire your own stories?

Martin: My book contains the fingerprints of many of my favourite writers, from poets and authors to screenwriters and astrophysicists.


Fish, Chips, Bread and Butter and a Cigarette was inspired by Penny for a Guy by Mike Garry, Dancefloor by Leane Moden’s spoken word show Skip Skip Skip, and the title poem by Talia Randall’s Who Tang Clan. Miggy Angel’s collections Grime Kerbstone Psalms and Extreme Violets also helped give me the confidence to explore some of the more difficult themes in my book; grief, loss, abuse, failure, through my poems Bones, Rock City and The Rain Outside My Window, to name a few.


I really appreciate nuanced, subtle writing, writing that encourages you to fill in the blanks between the lines, and have tried to write much of the collection so that people can find their own meaning from the poems, instead of the poems informing the meaning to the reader. I’ve taken this influence especially from screenwriters like Richard Linklater, in particular the Before trilogy, and novels like Esperanza Street by Niyati Keni.


I’ve also tried to fill the book with unexpected metaphor and imagery, such as missiles in my atria and the insides of my eyelids being a time machine, while keeping the poems grounded in their lived experience, and this has been very much influenced by writers like Charlotte Perkins Gilman, who was brilliant at turning “normality” on its head in books like Herland and The Yellow Wallpaper, and the intricate body metaphor percolating through Rosy Carrick’s collection, Chokey. My poem Time Machine is a nod to her poem of the same name.


My book is also laced with science and space imagery, from a love of books like Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time and Brian Cox’s Wonders of the Solar System, which was a strong influence on my poem Escape Velocity.

Every poem in my book comes from my lived experience, but I couldn’t have made them what they are without the writers who have influenced me, and I’m very grateful to their wonderful writing. I hope you enjoy my book, if you grab a copy.


  The Prettyboys of Gangster Town by Martin Grey now on pre-order, Released and shipped to arrive on September 11th 2020 here.

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