Hollie McNish has stopped talking for a moment; this doesn’t happen much during the interview. I have just asked her why she thinks her “poetic memoir”, Nobody Told Me, recently won the Poetry Society’s Ted Hughes award (previous recipients include Kate Tempest and Alice Oswald). “I really don’t know,” she says after a brief pause, shrugging and pulling awkwardly at the sleeves of her jumper. “I don’t think it’s because those experts in poetry [the judging panel] think the poetry in that book is good.”

But obviously they think it’s good – they would hardly have given you the prize if they didn’t. She shrugs again. “It’s because it has reached a wide audience,” she explains. “It’s because of where the poetry has gone, not for the quality of the writing.”

AuthorAlice O'Keeffe