Author: Dafydd Jones
In the third instalment of our Q+A series, we welcome Welsh poet and author Evrah Rose!
She talks getting into poetry, publishing her first book and her love for Wrexham Football Club.
How did you first get into poetry?
It was probably when I was eight or nine years old. I was going through quite difficult experiences, but I didn’t really have an outlet, I didn’t know to verbalise myself. It was rhyme and rhythm that really attracted me to poetry and people like Eminem, different rappers that were around at the time. I started writing my own raps and using raps that were already out there but replacing the lyrics. That’s how it started.
Where did the inspiration come from?
It was people like Eminem and Tupac. In comparison to other artists, especially like the ones you see today, it was the way that they used rhyme and rhythm to tell stories. They were quite deep and meaningful about fights against injustices and their own personal difficulties, which is what I latched onto. I found a lot of power in what they were doing.
Your poetry is to raise awareness of subjects that are neglected. How important is that to you?
It’s the most important thing about what I do. When I started my poetry journey in a more professional sense, my objective wasn’t to use typical metaphors about butterflies. That has its place and it’s beautiful, but I wanted to ensure that if I ever had the capacity to be respected enough to be heard, I wanted to use that to encourage change and benefit society. Having gone through a lot of things growing up, being silenced, and seeing people around me like women and black people being silenced, I thought that if I had that privilege, that would be my objective in poetry.
Is your passion about equality and human rights incorporated into your work?
There’s that saying that none of us are free until all of us are free. Absolutely everybody in this world, regardless of their origins, that should never be a barrier in the first place. We all have a value for the world. If we greet the world with an openness and realise that everybody has something to learn from one another, regardless of our similarities and differences. It’s massively important for me to ensure that others, that aren’t in the privileged position that I am to speak vocally, that they get highlighted in society.
Another passion of yours is your Welsh heritage. How much does that mean to you?
It’s been quite an eye-opening journey. I grew up with this British identity and my Welsh identity was always on the back pedal. I met people that were passionate about Wales but not in the sense that I feel today. A lot of my education, while it was wonderful, I was never really taught anything about Welsh history. I’m not fluent in Welsh and that really does aggrieve me. Looking back at the history of Wales and the neglect that the country has had, quite a lot of oppression from various areas, I’m very passionate about my Welsh heritage and the culture. It’s so important to maintain the language and ensure that Wales is seen positively because it absolutely should be.
You’ve also been working with a lot of charities. Can you tell us about those?
I’m really proud of it. My objective when I first started was to ensure change and I’ve worked alongside some amazing charities like the Bevan Foundation, Chwarae Têg, Shelter Cymru. It makes me incredibly proud that these organisations that do incredible things throughout not only Wales, but the UK, speak to me and collaborate with me about raising awareness. Even well before the poetry became professional, I was very active, doing fund-raising and charity work, so it’s a big part of my life. It makes me incredibly proud that I can incorporate that into what I do.
In 2019, you launched a book called ‘Unspoken’. How much of a step was that for you?
The sense of pride I have in that, because I remember as a child, I always said that I would write a book and publish a book. Growing up being a working-class person, you’re often told what you can’t do instead of what you can. It’s something I knew I wanted to do and was very passionate about, but sometimes, you lack the belief that it will be achievable. To have my name on the book will be something that will stay with me for the rest of my life. It was easily one of the proudest moments of my life.
Is the topic of ‘Unspoken’ similar to your poetry?
Absolutely, it’s very similar. It’s about things that people want to talk about, but don’t necessarily do in a frank and honest way. A lot of people say when they come to my gigs that it’s very raw, honest and hard-hitting. A lot of the topics I discuss in ‘Unspoken’ like rape culture and toxic masculinity, these things are touched upon but never in a real sense. I wanted to book to encapsulate my passion for people and change, but at the same time, keep the message very raw. Life is raw for a lot of people and if you sugar-coat issues, they’re never going to be dealt with the seriousness they deserve. ‘Unspoken’ was taking all the roots of these issues and putting into a print that it easily digestible for people and something they can relate to.
You also had the experience of performing your poem ‘Wrexham is the Name’ in front of the fans at The Racecourse before a game against Chesterfield. Can you recall the feelings of that day?
It was terrifying! If I would have thought as a kid in the Kop yelling and chanting for Wrexham that I would one day be on that pitch doing something I love, I would have told myself to shut your mouth! I think there was about 7,000 people, which was quite something. As confident as I seem at public speaking, I was frantic underneath. I did some stuff in the Bamford Suite beforehand and I thought that was a lot of people. Honestly, it was just the most amazing thing. For someone who has really adored the club and to have family so engrained with the club, it was a very proud moment for me.
It’s been a crazy year to be a Wrexham fan with the new owners, Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds. They’ve taken an interest in your poem, which must be unbelievable for you?
Well before the new owners, Wrexham is a history-making town. The way that the town evolves constantly to tackle challenges and poor funding. Any changes in the world, Wrexham has this amazing tenacity and resilience about it. When you look at the club, everything that they’ve been through with particular owners and nearly not even existing, it’s about time that Wrexham was seen and understood globally. ‘Wrexham is the Name’ is not only something that we sing at the ground, but it’s who we are. Even if you’re not a massive football fan, it’ll be really hard not to find someone in the town who’s not proud of the club in some way.
With the subject of the poem, was it the intention to incorporate that Wrexham both as a club and a town is built on hard-working, working-class people?
Absolutely. The working-class culture at Wrexham is the reason why we survive. There is a grit about us and we are resistant to a lot of things. When you look back at the history that we have, we absolutely deserve this. The investment is something I’m very excited about especially because the two lads that have taken over seem very passionate about ensuring our working-class roots and ensuring that they don’t gentrify the place, which is something I’m incredibly passionate about.
With what we do at St David’s World, how much potential is there for a network of Welsh people all over the world?
There is massive potential. Welsh is now the fastest growing languages. That brings such a smile to my face. I think it’s massively achievable, especially with how Wrexham is being highlighted now. Not only are people going to be looking at Wrexham, but the whole of Wales. There’s going to be a real attraction towards the country. The more people that appreciate the culture and heritage, the more people in Wales are going to be passionate and realise how fantastic we are as a country.