This week for my Tuesday guest feature we are sticking with poetry. I’m pleased to welcome Alison Chisholm, talented poet and tutor, to ‘Patricia’s Pen.’
I first met Alison at Swanwick Writers’ Summer School in 2016 and not only did I enjoy her poetry course but also benefited from her one to one feedback sessions.
Alison is here to talk about my favourite love, poetry, so without further ado, it’s over to Alison.
Poetry and Me
Strange how you fall into poetry. It isn’t an obvious career choice. I was hooked pre-school when my uncle gave me a copy of Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Child’s Garden of Verses. I already loved stories, but poetry … WOW! Here was a complete story and something to make you think in just a few words that sang with all the mystery and excitement of a magic spell. A few years later, no great shakes academically, I discovered the joys of reading poetry aloud in elocution classes, sharing those magical words with the world. At seventeen, I qualified to teach elocution, and a few years later realised that writing my own poetry brought even more wonder than reading other people’s.
The greatest joy, of course, is that a poet is one of the few professions in which it is a huge advantage to grow old. You have so much more to write about, and have lived through such fascinating changes in the poetry world, most notably seeing how a quirky minority interest for a few eccentrics has within a fairly short time become a way of life, a solace and a strengthener for so many of us.
Writing poetry helps to put things in order. Its balance and control counter the chaos of other aspects of life. It’s the best way to celebrate anniversaries, losing a stone, the birth of a baby, the fact that it’s Tuesday. It’s the best way to come to terms with the first broken love affair, losing your Dad, crashing the car, burning the Yorkshire puddings. Writing poetry helps to make sense of the things life does to you.
As I write this, the world is in the grip of what feels like the greatest change in society since we came down from the trees. Donne might have told us that no man is an island but today every one of us is an island, floating tantalisingly far from all the other islands in seas of sickness and fear. Poetry has never been more important. Reading it transports us into other, less terrifying worlds. It reminds us that we are human. It reminds us that we can dream. Writing it does the same, with the added advantage that it whiles away the odd hour that might otherwise have been surrendered to daytime TV. Both reading and writing poetry can be achieved with a nice gin and tonic in the other hand. Life could be worse.
Thank you, Alison, that was both informative and enjoyable to read and I’m sure my readers will agree. No wonder you fell in love with poetry after getting that copy of Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Child’s Garden of Verses. What a beautiful book. All children should have a copy.
Links of where to purchase Alison Chisholm’s books will be listed below but first let’s find out a little more about her.
About Alison Chisholm
Alison Chisholm was born in Liverpool and has lived in Southport most of her life, with a brief foray in the North East to collect a career, a husband and the first of her two daughters. She has two and a half grandchildren, two cats and a mildly dysfunctional tortoise.
She has written twelve collections of poetry and various textbooks on the craft of writing, and co-written books on public speaking, competitions and autobiography. She wrote the poetry correspondence course of the Writers Bureau, Manchester, and is a columnist on Writing Magazine. She gives talks, readings, workshops and courses, and adjudicates competitions.