Full Title: “The Tab sits down with the youngest ever winner of the National Poetry Prize (via The Tab)”
Midway through the Easter holidays, The Tab sat down for a Zoom call with Britain’s youngest ever winner of the National Poetry Prize. Eric Yip, an Economics student at Lucy Cavendish College, spoke to The Tab about his poetic process, his prize-winning poem, and how he balances problem sheets with late-night creativity.
HOW IT BEGAN
Eric told us how the inciting incident for the creation of his prize-winning poem Fricatives was the memory of his English teacher “telling me you should learn to pronounce three, as in the number, and free, as in freedom, differently. And if you didn’t know how to pronounce these words differently, you didn’t really know how to speak English.”
This memory left him upset, “because I felt like I just couldn’t do it and I still can’t do it to this day”, and gave him a way of entering the poem. Once he landed upon this memory, “The first draft of this poem sort of came very quickly.”
The emotional core of the poem came, he thinks, “from a deep sense of guilt” and functioned as a way of making sense of “this crossing between my home (Hong Kong) and the foreign environment of Cambridge that somehow also seems sort of familiar, because of Hong Kong’s colonial background”.