Former Royal Marine Adam Hampton found comfort in writing poetry when his military career was cut short by injury. Now, his first collection of poems, Transitions, has earned him a scholarship from Edge Hill and helped him make the change from soldier to scholar.
A veteran of two operational campaigns during the Afghan war, Adam was forced to leave the armed forces in 2012. He wanted to do something completely different so decided to apply for an English Language with Creative Writing course at Edge Hill University.
“I’d never even heard of Creative Writing as a subject, let alone written anything,” recalls Adam. “But I’d always loved English at school and I wanted to do something creative. I initially saw writing as a creative outlet for dealing with my experiences as a soldier and a way of testing myself and seeing what I was capable of.”
Adam threw himself into his course and was surprised to find himself developing a love of – and a skill for writing – poetry, a literary form he hadn’t considered before.
“I really enjoy the physical process of putting a poem together,” says Adam. “I like playing with language, and my poems are short and succinct so every word matters. I love the fact that there are endless ways to write poetry so I’m never going to finish learning.
“I was injured by a land mine during an operation in Afghanistan, which scarred me both mentally and physically,” says Adam. “I don’t want to be seen as a ‘war poet’ but my time as a solder does colour my work. I try not to let it influence what I write but there are recurring themes about war, particularly in my early poems. I’m trying now to leave the soldier behind and let my work evolve in a new direction.”
Recently, Adam has found a wider audience for his poetry. He had a poem read at an exhibition at the Bluecoat in Liverpool, and had a sonnet published on the blog of Robert Sheppard, Professor of Poetry and Poetics at Edge Hill.
“Standing in front of people and reading my poetry fills me with fear, but winning the scholarship has really boosted my confidence. It is the greatest accolade. My goal has never been to have my name on a book cover; I’ve only ever wanted to write poems that others want to read. It’s enough for me to share my work with the class so this recognition is very humbling.”
Adam has been awarded an Excellence in Creative Arts Scholarship, which rewards and celebrates students who display excellence as creative writers.
“The scholarship money will really help me take my poetry forward. I plan to submit a collection of poems to a small publishing house, and I’m also currently submitting poems to competitions, both of which are quite expensive ventures.
“Despite the difficulties I might suffer due to my experiences in Afghanistan, winning this award has shown me that poetry can be a space where it is the art, and the making of the art, that matters and nothing else.”