MIMR @Focus Wales 2016: Sophie Mckeand

The Focus Wales festival this year is a 5 day celebration and not just musical acts are under the spotlight but many other arts have become a intergral part of the event.

One of the performers at the forefront of this year’s event is Writer/Poet and Educator Sophie Mckeand. MIMR spoke to her about her achievements and what to look forward to at Focus in a few weeks.

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MIMR: Its great to have Sophie Mckeand on MIMR, safe to say you’ve had a busy 2016 so far Sophie, what have been your own personal highlights?

Sophie: At the end of last year I won the Out Spoken award for Innovation in Poetry which was fantastic. The new poetry pamphlet ‘Hanes’ was also launched and is selling well, and then on the 1st April this year I was appointed by Literature Wales as the next Young People’s Laureate Wales (which is a two-year role). This is a really exciting opportunity to continue working as a socially engaged practitioner but to take it to another level – working with young people across Cymru on various projects. I was honoured to receive such an invitation from Literature Wales to work with them closely and hope to engage with, and inspire, as many young people as possible during this time.

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MIMR: Focus Wales is nearly upon us once again, what does the festival mean to you?

Sophie: I’ve been a huge supporter of the festival since its first year. It’s fantastic to see Wrecsam come alive in this way – showing the rest of Wales, and the UK, that Wrecsam is a credible, interesting and exciting place at the moment where the arts are concerned. The programme is always exploding with great artistic talent both well established and newcomers, my only complaint every year is that I am only one person but I want to see practically everything on the programme, which is physically impossible. But that’s exactly how a good festival line-up should be.

MIMR: What other acts appearing at the festival are looking forward to seeing?

Sophie: It’s great to see so many north Wales bands who are really on top of their game on the lineup including: Mechanical Owl, Baby Brave, Baron la Croix, Chupa Cabra, Golden Fable, Lovers Open Fire, Seazoo, Mowbird and Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard as well as Voicebox Poets who are creating some really interesting and diverse poetry at the moment. On top of that I really want to see Gwenno (I’m loving her new album Y Dydd Olaf), Kizzy Crawford’s sound is just gorgeous and I quite fancy the look of The Anchoress (love that name anyway!). And this is just off the top of my head – I know I’ve missed out loads here but unless I recite the whole programme to you this will have to do for now.

MIMR: Thanks Sophie for chatting to the blog, hope you have a enjoyable festival, tell us where and when we can see you performing at Focus?

Sophie: I’m interviewing Viv Albertine (The Slits) in front of an audience on Thursday 12th at 5pm in the Wynnstay Arms – I’m both terrified and cannot wait to meet her, she is such an inspirational artist. Then I’ll be Poet at Large around the venues getting inspiration for a specially commissioned piece that I’ll be performing as part of a larger set at Oriel Wrecsam on Saturday 14th, 5.40pm.

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