AISLING Fahey isn’t afraid to get personal. The exact opposite in fact. Indeed, she thinks nothing of revealing her feelings through her poetry, writing odes about a failed romance in I Would Have Loved You, and describing her sister Sinead as a combination of lost Megabus tickets, Oyster card receipts, Time Out magazine snippets, and Extra chewing gum packets in Things I Would Teach You If You Would Listen.
Raw and uncompromising, she’s won awards for her poetry at London Senior Slam and Slambassadors, is quickly establishing a name for herself on the spoken word scene, and is gaining a steady following.
As such, Aisling currently finds herself in the running for Spread the Word’s Young Poet Laureate for London.
“I was stunned to find out I’d made it as far as I have,” she tells me from her Walthamstow home. “I had my six winners in my mind and it didn’t include me. I’d gone not expecting anything, I’d seen the talent that was there, and everyone was so good, so confident, you could see why they had made it through.  
“But I was chuffed to be selected, the competition is of a great standard.”
When speaking with Aisling, what immediately strikes you is just how young she sounds. She may only be 20 years old, but her poetry certainly belies her tender years.
“I started writing and performing at about 13,” she says. “Poetry has this reputation of being uncool because a lot of people’s experiences of it are in the English classroom. But it’s so easy to bring it to life, it’s a wonderful genre that incorporates theatre, it just needs to be given a chance. If you look at Lily Allen and Professor Green, their lyrics are modern day poetry.
“People will listen to music and not really view it as poetry, but they should, if it moves you, if it has a message, if it has words – in my book, it’s poetry.”
Aisling readily admits that she always carries a notebook around with her to jot down ideas for her verses, and when travelling on the underground has turned to texting ideas onto her phone.
“Whenever I get inspired I just have to write it down, I just need to run with it,” she explains. 
“A lot of my work is very personal; it involves family, relationships, things that have happened to me.
“If you want to write about something that involves someone else it can be a difficult process, but it’s cathartic in a way. You’ve got to be careful about how much is about you and your angst. Not everyone wants to read that. A lot of poets write things they’ll never share.”
On September 7, Aisling, along with the other five contenders, will have to perform their poetry at the Olympic Park for the final leg of the competition.
The new Young Poet Laureate for London will be selected from the six short-listed participants and the winner will be announced on October 3, which, fittingly, is National Poetry Day.
The victor will also appear at Words Over Waltham Forest, the first borough-wide literary festival.
“It would be amazing to win, it’s a whole year’s position. There are two-week residencies, people can book you for schools and libraries to perform. It’s very community-based, it’s all about development, it would have a big impact on my writing.
“Performing at Words Over Waltham Forest would be great too, Walthamstow is my home, it’s shaped my poetry. It’s an important festival that will further the message of just how important poetry is.
“Plus if I did win, I’d get to sign my name off Aisling Fahey, Young London Poet Laureate. I mean, you’d have to, wouldn’t you?” she laughs.
Until she finds out if she’s won the competition, Aisling is dividing her time between working as an ambassador at The Barbican and writing poetry in her spare time. In the autumn she’ll be heading to Exeter, where she is studying for her English Literature degree.
So what does the future hold for Aisling?
“I’m still at that stage of figuring out what I want to do with my career, but poetry is my passion and if I could earn a living from it, that would be amazing.      “Let’s just say Carol Ann Duffy is safe...,” she laughs hard, "...for the moment.
“I’d love to be published, but I’m a bit scared of letting go of my work and putting it out there. My poetry is my life, it’s a scary process, but if anything, poetry is personal.”