Meet the writers: Caroline Druitt and Gita Ralleigh

In the final part of our series showcasing local writers, we meet poet Caroline Druitt and Gita Ralleigh, a London Library Emerging Writer

Gita Ralleigh, Ayisha Malik, Aea Varfis-van Warmelo, Caroline Druitt and Joe Thomas. Collage by Dara Coker

Caroline Druitt

Caroline Druitt has been published in Little Stone Journal, Lucent Dreaming and the Poetry Business’ The North Magazine. She has also worked with The Albany Theatre’s performance poetry organisation, Apples & Snakes. She has been longlisted for the Out-Spoken Prize for Poetry and is currently working on her first collection of poems.

Caroline Druitt. Pic: Sam Tingman

Three words to describe London’s writing scene?

Eclectic, inspiring, supportive.

What are you working on at the moment?

I am currently working on my first collection of poems. At the beginning of the year I received Arts Council funding to support me and this has been invaluable, enabling me to work with a mentor and have the time and space to continue writing and editing alongside my day job running creative writing clubs in schools. 

What book has left a lasting impression on you?

If I had to choose, I think Caroline Bird’s collection, The Air Year. I read it in one sitting, then immediately started rereading it. It made me want to take out my notebook and write.

Where do you draw inspiration from for your writing?

Inspiration can come from anywhere. It might come from a series I’m watching, a place I’ve visited, a phone call I received. I began to write more seriously after my half-brother and father passed away within a year of each other. I found it helped me to process the complexities of the loss and grief I was experiencing. In the subsequent years I have been very interested in exploring family history, intergenerational trauma, relationships and the fallibility of memory through my writing.

How does your relationship with London influence your writing?

I have a long, beautiful and complicated relationship with London, a little like my relationship with my writing practice. I have left London many times, but somehow I am always drawn back here. Rats, a Thames estuary seal, tube stops and various London flats I’ve inhabited all creep into my poems. 

Where do you write?

I work at least once a week from the Poetry Library at the Southbank. When I need a break I take a quick walk along the Thames. Overhearing snippets of conversations, watching the buskers and skaters or seeing the posters for the concerts and galleries gives me a lot of images, sounds and thoughts to return to the library and my poems with.

Gita Ralleigh

Gita Ralleigh is a poet, writer and doctor born to Indian immigrant parents who grew up in South London. She teaches creative writing at Imperial College and was recently selected as part of The London Library’s prestigious Emerging Writers Programme. She has published two poetry collections, Siren (2022) and A Terrible Thing (2020).

Gita Ralleigh. Pic: Gita Ralleigh

Three words to describe London’s writing scene?

Dynamic, welcoming, inclusive.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m working on a second novel for young readers; it is a historical fantasy, set in an alternate version of colonial India. It follows an orphan, Minou Moonshine, on her quest to restore the Queendom.

What book has left a lasting impression on you?

Toni Morrison’s Beloved. I’ve read it many times, and each time I find something new to marvel at.

Where do you write?

My favourite place to write is from the wonderful British Library. I’m lucky enough to have been a London Library Emerging Writer for 2022-2023, and it’s a wonderfully atmospheric place to work – straight out of a Sherlock Holmes novel!

Follow our series, Reading Between the Lines, this week to read more about literature across our boroughs

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