It is a delight today to introduce Julie Stevens, a fellow poet from the wonderful Hedgehog Poetry Press. Julie has come along to chat about her writing and shares her poem, Bird. Without further ado it’s over to Julie.
I’ve always loved words. For years, I was heavily involved in local theatre, both acting and singing, with a bit of dancing, if you could call it that! Later I became a teacher, encouraging a love of words in children. Being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) over thirty years ago brought this to an end, but it led me into writing, although only in more recent years. Writing poetry is my love now and my poems normally give an insight into my life with MS.
At first, I just wrote for myself, but was soon supported in sharing with everybody. I’d been told my poems were relatable and speak of MS in a way that helps people understand the illness and disability in general. The website was born! Being diagnosed with a progressive illness is devastating. The therapeutic side of writing is well-known, but being able to share my words and know they have such a positive effect on others is a joy.
Being in a quiet, still space is where I start. Ideas will come from what’s inside, quite literally, MS is bursting with them, or from poetry books I’ve read, or the everyday. I’m always looking for that spark. I like to keep writing and spend time editing later. Every day if possible. Sometimes an idea grows into another one and there’s another poem or two!
In September 2020, my first pamphlet Quicksand was published by Dreich, having come second in their chapbook competition. Poems that show the ups and downs of being disabled, how I view the illness, hopes for the future and how I learn to fly amongst other things.
In June 2021, my micro pamphlet of poems, a Stickleback called Balancing Act, was a joint winner in a competition with Hedgehog Poetry Press. It’s about staying on your feet, keeping going and finding the colour. I’ve had great feedback on both pamphlets and I’m delighted to know my next collection of poems will be published in 2022 by Hedgehog Poetry Press.
It dawned on me that this was a great fundraising opportunity, so I have started selling these books and donating the proceeds to the MS Trust. The MS Trust have helped me so much over the 30 years and counting in which I’ve had MS, in particularly from the MS nurses I’ve had regular contact and advice from and their informative leaflets, magazines that have brought understanding. It was time to give back and say thank you. So far, I have raised over £450 for the MS Trust in such a short time which is brilliant.
Bird – Julie Stevens
I scooped handfuls of pink confetti,
gave it wildly to the sky and watched it
float down to my hair, cheeks, nose, wings
and there I was, perched on my branch of blossom
singing thanks to my velvet landing and
wings of release. My beak looks fine don’t
you think? Playing this rousing tune to all
around, collecting delight in my chocolate opal feathers,
skinny legs, like hers down the road
and royal stretching wings. But I can’t stay.
I need to taste the lift once more, feel the rush
and hover light knowing I’m safe.
I’ll return to the grind when I’m done,
these wings show me what it’s like to soar.
Come now, ride with me, you won’t
stumble in clouds.
Well done, Julie, on raising money for MS Trust. Good luck with the future fundraising. Thank you for sharing your amazing poem, Bird, with my readers.
About Julie Stevens
Julie Stevens writes poems sometimes reflecting the impact Multiple Sclerosis (MS) has on her life. Her poems have recently been published on Ink Sweat & Tears, in Sarasvati (Indigo Dreams) and on the Honest Ulsterman. Her winning Stickleback pamphlet Balancing Act was recently published by Hedgehog Poetry Press (June 2021) and her debut chapbook Quicksand by Dreich (Sept 2020).
Links to Books