Daljit Nagra comes from a Punjabi background. He was born and raised in London then Sheffield. He has won several prestigious prizes for his poetry. In 2004, he won the Forward Prize for Best Individual Poem with Look We Have Coming to Dover! This was also the title of his first collection which was published by Faber & Faber in 2007. This won the Forward Prize for Best First Collection and The South Bank Show Decibel Award.
Daljit is on the Board of the Poetry Book Society. He has judged the Samuel Johnson Award 2008, The Guardian First Book Prize 2008, The Foyles Young Poets Competition 2008, The National Poetry Competition 2009. He has also hosted the TS Eliot Poetry Readings 2009.
He is the Lead Poetry Tutor at The Faber Academy and has run workshops all over the world.
He is a regular contributor to BBC radio and has written articles for The Financial Times, The Guardian, The Observer and The Times of India.
How old were you when you started writing poetry?
I stared writing poetry for fun when I was in my late 20s and then tried to get published in magazines when I turned 30, which was when I realised there were poetry magazines out there and you had to build up a reputation.
Which of your poems is your favourite and why?
Look We Have Coming to Dover! because it best captured the mix of high and low styles I wanted in my first collection. I also like its tribute to migrants and also to the English language which I regard as a migrant language for the way it gathers words into its dictionary from anywhere.
What has been your greatest (poetry) success to date?
I had a very long poem published in The New Yorker recently. I regard this as a greater success than winning any first prizes because the poetry editor of The New Yorker is Paul Muldoon who is regarded as being one of the best poets to emerge since WWII. And I value being praised by the very best poets.
Who is your favourite poet and why?
I don’t have a favourite poet as such. I always like discovering new poets from around the world and getting excited by their poetry. My favourite poet changes every few weeks. I think it is important to move around this way so as a writer you can keep learning and being inspired by as many different writers as possible.
What is your poetry style?
I like mixing up language. I like putting words out of place. I like using a mix of good and bad English. I like writing about people who are quite emotional. I like writing poems with a strong story element. I like writing humorous poems that explore complex ideas underneath.
Do you have any advice for all the budding writers out there?
Keep editing your poems. Seek feedback about what doesn’t work in the poem. Don’t take criticism personally. If there is something wrong with the poem it doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you.
Where does your inspiration come from?
Anywhere. From being on a bus, reading other poetry. I keep my mind on the look out for new poetry ideas.
Do you have any poetry ambitions left to fulfil?
To continue writing good poetry that continues to challenge the polite English orthodoxy!
What are your plans for the future?
Write my third collection of poems and make sure it pushes the boundaries of form and taste!