“Oh god – they are putting me in the same field as some of my favourite poets,” says Laurie Ogden, an air of embarrassed despair creeping into her voice. “But they’re the very people I want to emulate.”
Modest Goldsmiths’ student Ogden has just seen herself described as a “rising star of poetry” by Channel 4, and that’s a little hard for a 22 year old to take in – not least because she’s also a talented actress and playwright.
After releasing a handful of television ads, performing in poetry competitions, and writing and featuring in a number of successful plays, performed in venues and at festival across the country, one wonders what’s next for the rising star.
I meet her in a café at Goldsmiths. Ogden looks tired but remains upbeat whilst explaining how she is quite nervous about the interview because she hates talking about herself.
The young red headed Liverpudlian is also still excited from leading Goldsmiths first UniSlam team to the final of the national poetry competition in Leicester a couple of months back.
“We were all so shocked to make it to the final,” explains Ogden. “Especially because we beat Cambridge in the semi-final. We actually only lost to Edinburgh who never been beaten. One of the judges gave me her only 10 out 10 for the whole event, which was really cool.”
Although currently devoting a lot of her time to poetry, Ogden tells me that it all started with acting.
“I had loads of energy as a kid, and my dad asked me if I wanted to do drama classes,” she says. “At first I took offence to it, because he always used to call me a drama queen, but I was only seven so I still went.
“The drama teacher was great, and she started to get me acting jobs but we couldn’t afford to be a part of her agency, because of the cost of head shots. At 18 I could afford to join and I got a part as the school bully in the BBC Radio 4 play ‘The Diddakoi’.”
The Diddakoi is the story of Kizzy, a girl who is half-gypsy. Kizzy’s world is turned upside down when her grandmother dies. A teacher takes Kizzy under her wing and they develop a strong relationship.
Ogden, who plays a bully named Prue, was taken aback by how radio acting works: “I thought I would be stood there reading from a script, but there is this scene where I burn the teachers house down, not knowing she was still in there.
“The teacher and I had to run around the studio, reading from scripts with a cloth over our mouth. There were also four staircases that led nowhere, made of marble, wood, stone and carpet. We had to run up and down the correct ones so that it would sound real. Those three days were loads of fun.”
When Ogden arrived at Goldsmiths she found fertile ground to develop her poetry skills. She explains: “There wasn’t much of a poetry scene in Liverpool, people still think of it as a bunch of old white men sipping wine. Also, if you don’t know people who are in to poetry it seems quite inaccessible, but when the friends I made down here began taking an interest, so did I.”
A friend from Goldsmiths encouraged her to join the Roundhouse in Chalk Farm, which runs poetry classes every Sunday for £20 a term.
“We meet every Sunday and two tutors provide writing exercises, help you come up with ideas for poetry and even bring in real poets who tell you how to make a living from it and what events you should be going to. That’s how Channel 4 got in touch. They asked me to read two poems that were played on E4 on National Poetry Day. Then they claimed I was a rising star.”
With the friends she made in her first year all coming together to write Staircases, a play centred on the issues that face teenagers such as young pregnancy, STIs and juggling relationships and education, Ogden is hoping to continue her success as a playwright.
“This year I am hoping that I can take my new play “Twix” to Camden or Edinburgh Fringe festival. The play is about class and focuses on two boys from Liverpool who lead different lives and never meet. One is a working class lad who has been in the city all his life, and the other has just moved there for university. The two never meet but the play shows the different levels of class in the city.”
Although Ogden wants to play down the praise that she has received for her great work within poetry, acting and writing plays, maybe we should all remember the name, as both Goldsmiths and the Roundhouse are renowned for producing successful creatives.
By Lars Hamer