Connor Allen at his book signing at Hay Festival Bookshop, holding a copy of 'Miracles' and pointing with his other hand. Photograph from Sophie Buchaillard.

Connor Allen in the spotlight

This week we’re putting the spotlight on debut poet and Children’s Laureate Wales Connor Allen. Isabelle Copland interviews our author about his new children’s collection Miracles.

Every child and every person on this planet is a miracle…”

What inspired you first to pick up a pen and start writing?

Reading Harry Potter as a child and escaping to Hogwarts was a massive inspiration to start writing and sharing stories. Telling stories connects us and the older I got the more I realised we need more connectivity, so I write and I share. But the crux of it started with my love of stories at a young age and wanting to create new worlds and stories to share. I’ve always looked at the world differently from many people in my life and close circle of friends, so writing helped me navigate that and get a better grasp and understanding of the way I look at the world.

What inspired you to write Miracles – who or what is your biggest inspiration?

“Connor just be Connor. You are who you are”

My aunty gave me some advice and passed down a saying my grandfather gave to her when she was little. She said “Connor just be Connor. You are who you are” and that really pushed me through my door of empowerment, and I wanted others to follow that advice and just be themselves. Also, my little man – Jace – was a massive inspiration to write Miracles, as I want him to understand that he is a miracle and he can do absolutely anything he wants to do in this lifetime.

Favourite book as a child?

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Where did the title Miracles come from?

It came from the belief that every child and every person on this planet is a miracle. There is no one like you in the entire world, and that is your superpower. Miracles, then, was pretty easy to come to as a title. It is the ethos of my theory.

What do you hope young people and children will ‘take away’ from your poetry?

That there is no one like them in the world and that is their superpower that can take them through their own door of potential. Hopefully, my poetry can open that door of possibility and empower them enough to be comfortable with who they are.

Tell us about the work you’ve done with children – poetry workshops, creative writing workshops in prison – how have these gone and what have you and the young people gained?

The writing with children and young people has gone fantastic and they’ve always engaged which is lovely. It’s fab to see the look on the children’s faces when they realise they’ve written poetry. It takes poetry off this pedestal and makes it real and fun.

Why is reaching young people in this way important to you?

Because some young people find it difficult to articulate how they’re feeling, and that can be a massive overwhelming void to sit in. If my work and writing can help navigate that then that’s fab and I’ll take it. The world can be alienating at times and allowing young people the chance to articulate and understand what they’re feeling is incredible. It takes poetry off this pedestal and makes it real and fun…

Tell us where you hope your writing will go in the future, what next?

I just hope people keep reading and believing they are miracles with the potential to do anything they want. Believing they can change the world and everything in between. With all my work, if it can resonate and help other ‘Connors’ navigate the world then I’m happy. Also if they are empowered to carry on writing then it’s a win-win in my eyes. For me, I’m taking some time to chill and travel. And I’ll see where my writing will take me. Feel like I’m closing a chapter so it’s exciting to see what will come in terms of writing in the next chapter.

You can order a copy of Connor Allen’s Miracles, illustrated by Amy Moody, directly from our website, or via your local bookshop.

Isabelle Copland is a student at Cardiff University, studying Journalism, Media, and English Literature. She is an advocate for the importance of creativity in education, politics, technology, economics, and human development.

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