Jannat Ahmed is the Subscriptions and Marketing Officer for Poetry Wales and a former lecture in Creative Writing. She’s been talking to use about her work and her love of reading.
I was born and grew up in Barry. I have worked for Cardiff University teaching creative writing, and I run my own creative writing magazine called Lucent Dreaming.
I also work for Poetry Wales where I help to run a UK-wide poetry competition for young poets called Wales Young Poets Award.
Some of my earliest memories of reading include borrowing old Enid Blyton books at my grandmother’s house. I thought it was so exciting that my aunt had read the same books when she was a child. I also fondly remember lots of kind teachers, like Miss Jones and Miss Jenkins at primary school, who lent me their favourite books!
Reading children’s books made me curious about writing and illustrating. (Children’s books were always more vibrant and beautiful to look at and read. Books for adults are only just catching up, I think.)
I loved telling stories to my younger sisters, and reading poems at school made me want to write poems at home. Now I am lucky to illustrate stories in the magazine I run, and write poems that are sometimes published.
I think it’s important that there are books for everyone about everything. Books and their stories and poems helped me understand more about the world. When things are sad and difficult, sometimes books remind me what is most important. I always gravitate to books about characters who are kind, brave and value friendship.
Children’s books are some of the best books, but there are two main reasons I’m looking forward to being a judge. Firstly, I’m eager to read new children’s titles set in Wales and to share my recommendations. (The only book I remember reading set in Wales was an autobiography by Roald Dahl.) And secondly, my younger self would be so happy for me!
There are so many brilliant books published to snack on and wolf down this year, and it’s a great honour to be asked to help judge them.