Ashley Edge is a non-binary, autistic poet from Staffordshire, with a Cheshire twang and Spanish heart. They have won multiple poetry slams, were shortlisted for the National Poetry Day (2019) YouTube event ‘Speak Your Truth’, and their work has appeared in various publications over the years, including Steel Jackdaw, Queerlings and Diva. Ashley runs multiple workshops to encourage and inspire other writers, covering a range of forms and subject matters, and also co-hosts Prickly Pear poetry open mic. In 2023, Ashley re-released their debut collection Those Days, These Days, which explores a range of topics linked to growing up and coming out.

In February 2024, Ashley was the guest headliner at our virtual Fire&Dust poetry night. We caught up with them after the gig, to ask a few questions…



HCE: Tell us a little about your background and journey as a writer so far. What inspired you to start creating and performing poetry?

AE: It initially started as a 6-year-old when I visited my PC-owning dad. I loved to type, my step-brother taught me to touch type, and I would type out the sports columns from my local newspaper. When there were no more articles to type up, I began making up stories and poems instead. And I loved it! It became all-encompassing from that day on. Then, seeing my name in print at 16 filled me with something inexplicable, I learnt that sharing my words was even more of a thrill and it became my dream to be an accomplished writer. So, I guess you can say the local sports news inspired me!



HCE: Who is your work aimed at – do you have an ideal audience in mind when you’re putting a poem together?

AE: It depends on what I’m writing. If it’s poetry, I write a lot about neurodivergence, child abuse, being queer and non-binary. It’s aimed at as many people as possible; for those that have had similar lived experiences, so that they know they’re not alone and there are ways to verbally express what they may be feeling or thinking. But even more important to me is to share an understanding of these experiences with those that haven’t lived it; to give them awareness, an understanding, empathy, sympathy. If it’s fiction, it is, more often than not, aimed at children and young adults. When I write fiction, it is usually fantastical, with mythical creatures, magick, and main characters that are teens. Very different from my poetry!




HCE: Would you say there are themes or motifs that you gravitate to in your work?

AE: Unintentionally, there is. Purely because I have a tendency to hit those hard subject matters and topical things that affect me directly. Also because the work I share is usually intentionally performative. So, the work folk know me for definitely has a recognisable voice and repeat themes. I also have familiar rhythms and beats that I’m sure folk can hear when I perform. But if you were to look at my entire body of work, it would be less noticeable. Most of my poetry is what I refer to as my ‘page’ poetry, which I used to think meant it didn’t translate well on stage (something I’ve recently discovered is not true!).  And on the page, I cover many themes, nothing is off limits.




HCE: What have responses to Those Days, These Days been like? Are readers connecting with the material in ways you hoped they would?

AE: The response has been wonderful. It has resonated with them exactly as I’d hoped. The collection covers multiple themes and the nostalgia of the “Those Days” section has particularly hit people in the memory-feels. They respond by sharing their memories with me, which I absolutely adore. It’s great that my poetry can spark such lovely thoughts. I was also delighted by how many came forward about Section 28, and my poems about being a queer teen through it, whether to thank me for enlightening them in something they were unaware of, or for raising awareness of the historical difficulties the LGBTIA+ community have lived through.



HCE: What is your favourite poem from this first collection, and why?

AE: I would have to say it’s Daisy Chain. I’m not a love-poem type of writer usually, but this was about the first girl I crushed on and I adore the sweetness of it. It also gets a lot of compliments from folk used to hearing harder-hitting themes, it surprises people and shows I really do have a soft side!




HCE: Who or what would you say are the biggest influences on your writing?

AE: I don’t think I have any specific influences. Life itself would have to be my answer!




HCE: What would you say are the skills required to facilitate a successful writing workshop. At yours, do you put more of an emphasis on enjoyment or on encouraging participants to challenge themselves?

AE: For me, it’s important that folk feel comfortable, at ease. As that’s when we are most open with our pens. For me, the emphasis is on enjoyment and encouraging folk to see the best in their writing. I do like to give folk the chance to challenge themselves, and often give additional layers to prompts that are optional for those attending, but it isn’t foremost in my mind when running a workshop. The simple act of putting words on the page is.



HCE: Is there a difference, in your opinion, between poems that are good candidates for ‘the stage’ and poems that work well ‘on the page’? Or do you not segregate your work this way?

AE: I used to think so, I often thought that my slower poems, those that were perhaps densely layered or specifically structured for the page, wouldn’t translate well on the stage. I always thought ‘stage’ poems, those with a rhythm, or drama, or bardic feel, worked well on both stage and page. However, having shared some of what I would call my page poems, on stage recently, my opinion has changed. The positive reactions I’ve received have proven that they work equally well on stage as their stage-siblings!




HCE: Some of your poetry explores traumatic experiences in a raw and honest way – is this an emotionally draining thing to do? What is the top piece of advice you would give other poets for tackling heavy/personal topics in their writing?

AE: Yes, it can be incredibly draining. When I’m writing those poems, it can take a lot out of me emotionally, because I’m reliving it. Often in slow motion, especially if it needs a heavy edit! My biggest tip is to only write about the dark when in the light. So, if I am low mentally, I won’t write about those experiences. If I’m in a good place, I will. Because my soul can take it then. I often also reach out to friends and give them a heads up that I’m stepping into the dark poetically, and they go on standby for me, with silly memes or cute animal pics, to bring me back out of the dark.



HCE: What’s next on the horizon for you? Are you already working on a new collection/project or booked for upcoming performances?

AE: The horizon is looking sunny but full to bursting! I’ve recently announced that I have set up my own publishing business and my first author, Kate Jenkinson, has a poetry collection that is due for release this autumn. We are also publishing a poetry anthology that is “All About Animals”. Submissions are open until June 16th for folk to submit, with a release date of late summer in mind. Anthology submissions info available on all my social media. To submit, email me

We are working very hard behind the scenes to make sure Poetic Edge Publishers starts with a bang, so watch this space for that!

I am also working on my second poetry collection and a novel. Busy bee! The poetry will be a harder hit than my first collection, as it covers my childhood trauma, which is one of the reasons it’s taking so long to write. I have to ensure self-care, so it is happening in safe bursts. But I am on the home stretch!




HCE: What’s the best way for people to keep connected with you and your work, or contact you for bookings?

Website Instagram Facebook YouTube

Eventbrite Facebook Writing Group


To enquire about bookings as feature/host/tutor, please email.  



HCE: Is there anything we didn’t cover that you’d like to share with our readers?


AE: Not that I can think of!



Those Days, These Days is available direct from Ashley on their website or can be purchased through Amazon.