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04Feb

Costa winner Hannah Lowe: ‘Should teachers write about students? That question’s too categorical’

The teacher-turned-poet on getting into writing later in life, the ethics of poems about former students and how her years working in schools shaped her thinking

Many writers have dreamed since childhood of being published. Not Hannah Lowe, who has just won the Costa book of the year award for her poetry collection The Kids. It was only when she was teaching English literature to sixth-formers that her interest in writing poetry was piqued.

“I started writing quite late,” says the 45-year-old poet, speaking from her kitchen in north London after a late night celebrating her win. “I was trying to enthuse my students with an anthology of 1,000 years of English poetry, and that, along with an anthology of contemporary poetry my mum bought me, Bloodaxe’s Staying Alive, just spoke to me. I started writing in secret.”

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