Angela Cleland, 37, Surrey

Angela Cleland, 37, Surrey

I started writing as a kid growing up in Dingwall, and never really stopped. When an English teacher read one of my poems and ran out of the room shrieking, I realised I might have something.

When I had kids, I thought: "That's it, my career's over." But my creativity is still there when I want to tap into it and the children - aged two and three - are with a childminder two days a week. There's a time lag between what happens and what I write. So I'm now starting to write poems about pregnancy, childbirth and having children.

I'm also a novelist, and I'll sit down and tell myself that I've got to write 2000 words of prose, and if I get that done by, say, 12 o'clock, I'll let myself write a poem. I use it as a little carrot. It often starts with, "What am I going to write today?" Once I've written a bit, something interesting will come out and it will be, I suppose, connected to something that's happened, and I'll try to work on that.

Jennifer (JL) Williams, 36, Edinburgh

I've been writing poetry since I was little, when someone handed me a book of Shel Silverstein poetry by and I thought "that's for me". I was amazed by the sense of being able to put something about the world around me into words that captured the feeling of it.

Often I have ideas and words and phrases percolating throughout the day and then, when I have a little slip of time, on my lunch break or on my way to work, I'll jot down a few lines.

It's really difficult to make an income as a poet. I'm lucky because I've got a full-time job as the Scottish Poetry Library's programme manager - that's a full-time day job, organising performance events, talking to writers, creating podcasts. Poetry is meant to be heard and shared. I've always been interested in poetry as performance and am in a band called Opul, with my partner, who is a composer and biologist. We play music and do poetry together.

Niall Campbell, 29, Edinburgh

I'm not from a very literary background family-wise (I grew up on South Uist), but while studying English literature at St Andrews University I became immersed in other people's work and started to put pen to paper for myself. Right now being the main carer of a six-month-old baby takes up most of my time.

I try to set aside a wee writing period between 11pm and 2am. Throughout the day, things are clicking over in my head - especially with the little one: seeing that new interaction with the world and how they're discovering everything, makes you think of things. When I get a line, I'll keep repeating it to myself so I don't forget it - because that might be a cornerstone for an actual poem when I do get to sit down.

I was quite lucky that I won the Edwin Morgan prize for my first book, Moontide. The prize money (£20,000) has helped a lot.

Michael Pedersen, 30, Edinburgh

Pulling a poetry book by Tom Buchan down from my mum's book's shelf was the real trigger. It was a thin, sharp, yellow, aesthetically-awkward-looking volume that blew my cotton socks off. The punch and proximity of the words were a real revelation; this wasn't overly schooled or fiercely academic but profane, powerful and playful. I thought, poetry can be both a wand and a weapon if I play my cards right. I'm involved in organising Neu! Reekie! - an amalgamation of all things spoken word, animation and music that get our juices flowing.

Poetry out loud is a wonderful and wily beast that sometimes gets out of control, which is one of the best things about it. It's such an exciting time to be a writer in Scotland, what with political purpose all around us and ample opportunities to flaunt your goodies all over town.

Theresa Munoz, 30, Edinburgh

I love the way poetry captures a specific moment, or an ongoing social movement, or can comment on both the past and present. There is so much possibility in a small number of words.

I come from an immigrant family though it was never something I thought about until I moved permanently to Scotland. My parents are both Filipino immigrants to Canada, where I grew up. Some of my poems explore parallel details between our journeys; for example, I have a poem about how my mother and I both migrated at age 22. I also wanted to describe the UK immigrant experience. Many people don't realise how difficult it is to stay in Scotland. There are a lot of visas and financial requirements you have to meet. I've also had some very unpleasant racist encounters. My poem Life In The UK, about the British settlement test, explores what it's like to try to stay here. (It's been worth it, by the way!).