Oliver Shrouder, whose poem ‘The Romance of Doing Nothing’ is published in issue 6 of Lucent Dreaming, is a first-year English Literature with Creative Writing student from UEA. Hailing from Grantham, twice voted the most boring town in England, Oliver was inspired to write anything he could to escape from it. Now a poet, he explores wildlife in the hope that the Norwich air can blow Grantham’s smog from his hair.
So, what inspired your piece ‘The Romance of Doing Nothing’? Can you tell us a little more about what it’s about?
I was inspired to write this piece following one of my experiences with working alongside an environmental arts fair in 2019. The fair centred around the open mic which occurred at the end of the day, and on every hour prior were activities for both children and adults to partake in. One of these activities was to fill in two blank circles of paper, one of which with the environmental crisis, and another if nature was unaffected. I found it strangely ironic to watch all of these young people taking a blank, perfect globe and have their way with it, sprouting factories and farms and their families in much the same way the generations before them had done, except to the real Earth. In a sense, it’s about being forced to look back at what you’ve done to the world, and realising that the youth are the only real hope of fixing it.
What are some of your favourite books and art (including shows, videos, music) – of all time or more recently. Why are they favourites?
I am sure I have spoken about this a thousand times, but Max Porter is my favourite author, and you can see his style often bleed into my prose and poetry, especially when I focus on the environment. I would recommend either of his books, Grief is the Thing With Feathers or Lanny. More recently, I have enjoyed On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong, who remains one of the greatest contemporary writers I have discovered, and writes about LGBT and BAME issues with brilliance. In terms of music, I will always point to Divorce Lawyers I Shaved My Head by Jordaan Mason, which contains my favourite lyrics of any album, and a delivery with such emotion it continues to inspires me and my writing, simply to find a way to represent my ideas with the power he does.
What, if anything, are you looking forward to right now and what writing/creative projects are you currently working on?
After this poem I took a break from environmental poetry and instead began work on a Quarantine collection, with poems that track the political and social climate throughout the last few months. In a country that has changed so much in such a small space of time, I found it crucial to write down the ideas and grievances it brought, to make sure nothing is lost to future generations that wish to understand it better. On top of this, I am working on a collection of bird folklore poetry, taking stories about British birds and modernising them, or anthropomorphising them into characters.
Can you tell us about how you got into writing and art? Is there anyone whose support or encouragement really inspired or motivated you?
At school, English was always my favourite subject, and I spent much of my time drawing comics in notebooks, and writing short stories in stapled home-made books. Once I began learning Creative Writing at UEA, I focused more on poetry and found my passion there, interested in the ability to convey so many subjects in so few words. Poetry, to me, feels like the only way to explore many subjects and experiences in a clear, focused way, and I enjoy the challenge of fitting an idea into no more than 300 words. Being at UEA, I am inspired by the Norfolk Broads and the nature surrounding the county, and I birdwatch in these areas often. It is hard not to walk through these beautiful places and come back without an idea or two.
Where can people see more of you and your work?
In terms of my poetry, I post on Instagram as @shrouderwrites, and update it regularly with either new ideas, or selfies with any authors I am able to see perform live. I also post about the books I am currently reading, and I am always happy to give recommendations based on your interests.
Lucent Dreaming is an independent creative writing magazine publishing beautiful, imaginative and surreal short stories, poetry and artwork from emerging authors and artists worldwide. Our aim is to encourage creativity and to help writers reach publication! Subscribe to Lucent Dreaming now, support us on Patreon and follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.