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Image of Pinky May in nature

Pinky May is one of Manchester's hottest new poets. Her work is visceral, emotive, and in touch with human nature. She writes about love and the search for it, the way it feels to lose it and the importance of learning how to love oneself. Her performances are calming and passionate; her presence and smile are joyously infectious. We are thrilled to be presenting her debut collection - title TBC! - to the world. Doctor by day, spoken word artist by night, we aren't sure how she fits it in - but we are mighty glad she does.


We sat down with Pinky for a chat about life, her work, and more... 

Can you describe your work in five words?

  • Cathartic

  • Heavy

  • Delicate

  • Reflective

  • Intimate

What draws you to poetry?

Poetry is story-telling. It’s language that plays with structure; it carries a body of emotions and perspectives. It strips a story down to our basic senses and helps us feel what the writer is portraying. It is simple; it is complicated. Everything about it fascinates me - the metaphors, the rhythm, each punctuation, each line break; how beautiful a poem can be when laid out on a page or how it transforms on the stage. I love that sense of satisfaction you get from reading a beautifully-crafted sentence. The feeling of being understood when a certain phrase reminds you of your own experiences. That punch in the gut. The calm afterwards.


You work in the NHS. Does that have an impact on your work at all?


Hmm... interestingly, I have never written about my job, even though being a doctor comes with a lot of ups and downs. However, I think what drove me to medicine and writing are the same - this curiosity about our bodies, and minds and the search for meaningful connection.



How did you get started as a poet?


I have always loved journaling, and have always loved poetry. During the pandemic, I started to combine the two after live workshops from Rupi Kaur and Charlie Brogan. It felt like therapy, but I did it secretly because I believed I wasn’t good enough.


As most significant points in life, my poetry journey started with a tragedy. In the summer of 2021, my father passed away unexpectedly. I had just started my new job, and moved to Manchester whilst my parents lived all the way across the world in Myanmar. It was the lowest of lows. I was struggling with this newfound grief, responsibilities, and a lack of self-confidence. This translated to a profound sense of inadequacy. I was compromising so much to feel loved, and every relationship that didn’t work out felt like a personal failure.


I wrote a lot during this time. It was my outlet. It was the only way I could understand my pain. My therapist encouraged me to start doing things for myself. At the time, I had only been to one poetry night in Manchester. Griot Gabriel hosted it, and so I asked him if I could perform at his next event. He said yes, and so it began - my first spoken word performance on stage. I had just written a poem about my dad, and I was terrified. My hands firmly holding onto the mic, hoping nobody can see or hear the shakes.


Slowly, I felt this huge weight lift off me as I gave my words, a voice. It was a release. People crying. Coming to speak to me because they related in some way. They felt less alone, and so did I.

I remember saying, ‘that was scary, but I am so going to do it again.’



You have made quite the impression on the Manchester poetry scene. Are there any nights you’d recommend for a beginner?


Awh thank you, that means a lot! Manchester really is full of ridiculous talent but also the kindest souls. The Poetry Place definitely has my heart, as it was the first place that gave me the space and confidence for my craft. Pull Up & Speak, run by Sharon, is a beautiful place - I always come home feeling so warm and full. And of course, Switchblade Society by Will & Michaela. Verbose. Natter. Mind Over Matter. All these places are super inclusive and welcoming!



Who are your biggest influences as a writer?


My first exposure to poetry was as a teenager on Tumblr, stumbling onto Rupi Kaur and Madisen Kuhn. English isn’t my first language, and the simple and strategic placement of their words made poetry very alluring to me. As a writer, I was later introduced to confessional poetry by Charlie Brogan. She has a way of turning every day mundanities into something beautiful. I also love Joy Sullivan, Ocean Vuong, Sarah Kay, and Maia Mayor.


Locally, I am in awe of Saf S2E’s powerful delivery, Griot Gabriel’s lyricism, Cherelle Anne’s tenacity, Isabella Byrne’s wordplay and Shak’s effortless rhymes. The influences just keep growing!


What do you hope to achieve with this collection?


Connection. Connection. Connection.


This collection represents the last two years of my life - it is heavy, and delicate. It is a quest for love in the world of modern dating, and how that feeds into our perception of ourselves. The search for belonging through anxiety, grief, and disordered eating. What happens when you lose the most important person? How do you navigate the love between a mother and a child?


Writing has helped me get through the most difficult events of my life. I hope this collection does the same for you. I hope it touches your soul in some way, whether it makes you smile or cry. More importantly, I hope that it gives you hope. In the knowing that you are not alone. That if someone else has gone through it and survived, you will too.



A little lighter now - what do you have on your chips?

I grew up in Myanmar, not having had chips at all!



Your work focuses a lot on relationships, and human interaction. Why do you think people choose poetry to talk about these kinds of things?


Human beings are complex, and even more so, are our relationships with each other. We can get so stuck inside our heads, especially when we’re going through something challenging. We forget that there are other people too who might be going through the exact same thing or worse.


I choose poetry to talk about these things because I have to choose my words with precision and care. I use a lot of CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) principles in my work. This helps me gain perspective. It keeps me humble, and grateful for the things I have. Every poet is there, wearing their hearts on their sleeves. It helps me stay vulnerable in a world that tells me to win.



What or who is in your mind as you write?


Most of the time, I try to strip it down to a single scene and really explore it. The surroundings, and more importantly, myself. What was I feeling? How can I tell I was sad? Was I slouching, what did my jaw feel like? How can I show the reader that I was sad without using the word sad? My mind enters this creative flow state. It is just me and the page in front of me. Then I explore the whys. Why was I sad? What particular thoughts did I have? What were the assumptions that led to this? Most of the time, I end up crying. It is the most cathartic feeling. It doesn’t matter whether or not I have ‘finished’ the piece, as long as I have learnt a bit more about myself or let something go.

Pinky's collection, title TBC, is arriving in Autumn 2023

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