You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Sharon Black’ tag.

Writing about experience is extremely cathartic, removing the noise in the head, expressing what never makes it into conversation, and so being a poet it was only natural for me to write about my breast cancer journey, which thanks to Ginninderra Press, forms a chapbook of poems called Venus.

Starting with diagnosis, it charts the path I took – five months of chemotherapy, a mastectomy, six weeks of radiotherapy every day – and still take with daily anti-hormones and a six-monthly bone drug infusion. The outcome was a new me, an alive me, with a different perspective and sense of purpose. (The image on the front by the way, is the pattern from what became my chemo pants, which I’d planned to ceremoniously burn at the end of active treatment, but they’re extremely comfortable!).

I follow in the footsteps of many fine poets who’ve also written about their own experiences – Jo Shapcott’s Of Mutability and Sharon Black’s To Know Bedrock whose launch I attended in London in 2011, plus a fascinating collaboration between Irish poets in Bosom Pals, to name a few. With one in eight women diagnosed with the disease, it’s a common condition with voice.

I’ve given copies to my doctor, specialist and oncologist as I’m keen for it to reach other women embarking on the same journey as a source of comfort, a source of you can do this.

Anniversary

A year ago today my world was smashed
by a man in a suit and wire-rimmed glasses.
His voice was small and grew smaller.

Over the next nine months I lost my aversion
to needles and swallowing tablets
found I preferred my hair short.

So I take my husband out to dinner
like some macabre anniversary
because I feel the need to mark this path

from a place that howled to one made of bricks
where I savour the simplest things –
the sharpness of orange juice in the morning

how fast I can cycle with the wind behind me
watching the sun slip into the sea.

from Venus, Ginninderra Press 2022

This is a gem of a book. Edited by Abegail Morley, Catherine Smith and Emer Gillespie, co-founders of Ekphrasis, this anthology of poems reveals new perspectives on Alice in Wonderland from some outstanding poets.

2016-04-10 09.56.55

With an insightful foreword by Ian Duhig, the book formed part of the British Library’s ‘150 years of Alice’ celebration ‘creating a dialogue between one art form and another’. And there are some big names in here keeping the editors company – Sharon Black, Helen Ivory, Sarah Salway, Penelope Shuttle and Tamar Yoseloff to name a few, contributing exquisite pieces. I will draw on some favourites.

In Abegail’s ‘Daisy Chains and Downers’ we find an Alice-esque girl ‘hanging out on Stanley Road after dark’, where ‘clocks untick’ and ‘time slackens’ culminating in ‘You can date me by bone density, scraps / of fabric, the shape my heart makes as it stops’, a beautifully haunting stanza.

In Helen’s ‘Wunderkammer with Escher Stairs and Cheshire Cat’ we fall into its bizarre world where ‘the ladder kinks off into another room’ and the infamous ‘drink me’ bottle ‘shrinks the day / and the cat shapes a cave from her sleeping bones’.

In Catherine’s ‘The Grin’ a child waits outside ‘the Head Teacher’s office, / convicted for day-dreaming in Trigonometry’ as their grin takes on a life of its own, ‘to take its place in the longest grass, / with all the other banished grins, / the smirks, the yawns, the blurted truths’.

In Heidi Williamson’s ‘Disappearance at six o’clock’ Alice is asked to wake up ‘step out of your dream now’, a poem inspired by Stephanie Bolster’s Portrait of Alice with Persephone, where there are ‘clouds in the water / like drowned breaths’.

I could go on but it would be better to read it firsthand. Poetry lovers should get a copy of this collection simply for the quality of work it contains. Non-poetry lovers should also because let’s face it, who doesn’t love Alice?!

After finishing Catherine Smith’s online feedback course earlier in the year through The Poetry School and finding it extremely useful, I thought it about time I enroll on another to give life to some poems that just want to sleep and do nothing all day. So I did.

Bill Greenwell

I had heard good things about Bill Greenwell’s poetry clinic and discovered his work through Abegail Morley, an extraordinarily talented poet who Bill used to mentor. The course runs over 10 weeks and is hosted through an online learning environment out of Exeter University, with the absence of ‘live’ sessions suiting me perfectly due to the time difference.

The aim is simple – to share poems with other poets and an experienced and published tutor, cue Bill, for discussion and critique. So the idea is to present a poem a week, or two if time and length permits, and now half way through the course I have five poems to work on using invaluable feedback.

And even if widely published before, I believe a poet should never stop improving, learning and sharing to develop themselves, their work and fellow poets. Thus I’m in brilliant company, joined by the likes of Sharon Black and Valerie Morton, two poets with excellent track records, as well as solo collections.

So with that in mind I best get back to it. Stop blogging, making cups of tea, thinking about lunch…

Archives

Blog Stats

  • 18,026 hits
The Amphibian Literary Journal

for the culturally amphibious

Whitmore Press

Publishers of fine contemporary Australian poetry

Claw & Blossom

human nature, natural world

Poetry in Process

Understanding poetic process from inspiration to final edit

Plumwood Mountain

Where poetry meets purpose

Wakefield Press

Wakefield Press blog

Andy Jackson

Poetry from a body shaped like a question mark.

Tears in the Fence

an independent, international literary magazine

Shooter Literary Magazine

Short fiction, non-fiction and poetry

mistakenforarealpoet

odd posts from an occasional poet (or vice versa)

Karen Dennison

Poet and artist

Cath Drake writing & communications

This site has been archived. Please head over to: https://cathdrake.com/

The Bell Jar

Projects and news from UK writer Jo Bell