Guest Feature – Lucy Heuschen

I’m honoured to feature a fellow Hedgehog Poetry Press poet, the lovely Lucy Heuschen, on Patricia’s Pen. Lucy bravely shares how she rediscovered her creative voice. Without further ado, it’s over to Lucy.

How I rediscovered my creative voice

Lucy Heuschen

In childhood, I was always writing stories. In my twenties and thirties, creativity took a back seat to my legal career, marriage and motherhood. Then in 2018 I was diagnosed with Stage 2(b) Grade 3 advanced breast cancer. I was 42, fairly fit and active; suddenly I was a cancer patient. I was on the floor.

During treatment, I read poetry: Emily Dickinson, Carol Ann Duffy, Ruth Stone. Sometimes I could only manage a single page. I listened to many podcasts. After treatment ended, I was lost. I attended a workshop led by poet / eco-activist Jason Conway, who helped me connect my writing skills with healing and processing the changes in my life. I discovered online workshops led by Anna Saunders of Cheltenham Poetry Festival and Alison Powell of Write Club. My greatest inspirations are the creative souls from around the world who attend these workshops.

I also founded The Rainbow Poems, an online community for anyone going through life change. Now in our third year, we have over a thousand regular readers. Our contributors range from Pushcart Nominees to an 84-year-old grandmother and first-time poet. All are welcome at The Rainbow Poems!

We Wear The Crown is my debut pamphlet, launching on 15 August 2022 with The Hedgehog Poetry Press.

It’s about my journey from the moment of diagnosis, when I wanted to smash everything, to the end of active treatment and beyond. This ‘afterwards’ is the part I find most important to discuss, because it often isn’t. The post-treatment void, when you’re let loose from the healthcare system that has supported you but also dictated your daily life. A person may still be dealing with symptoms and medications, yet perhaps understandably, some people just want to believe that you are ‘cured’, back to ‘the old you’.

Why is it called We Wear The Crown?

The title was inspired by a young friend who was diagnosed with cancer while I was writing the book, and a brilliant charity called the Little Princess Trust. The title poem is a fairy-tale for my friend as she embarks on her treatment plan. LPT collect donated hair to make wigs for young people suffering hair loss and I donated my hair before starting chemo. Hair is often associated with health and strength, so giving my hair to LPT was, for me, symbolic. The poem came out of that experience, the deep need to reclaim my self-image.

I also think of Shakespeare’s Henry IV: ‘Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown’. Because there are no easy answers with cancer. It is a heavy thing. I became insomniac, trying to bear it. It isn’t about being ‘brave’ or ‘strong’; I was often neither of those things. I wanted to honour the loss, the burden, the uncertainty that a cancer diagnosis brings, but also to say: we are beautiful and worth celebrating, completely so, with all our frailty and our scars.

About Lucy Heuschen

Lucy Heuschen is a British poet living in Germany with her family and rescue dog. She returned to writing poetry after a two-decade legal career and a life-changing cancer diagnosis. Lucy’s poetry has appeared in numerous journals and literary magazines and she has contributed to anthologies from Hedgehog Press, Dreich, Yaffle, Orchard Lea, New Contexts and Black Bough.

Lucy is the founder and editor of The Rainbow Poems (an online community for anyone experiencing life change or uncertainty) and the Sonnets for Shakespeare project. She leads the Poetry Society Stanza for Germany.

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Join Lucy in a double book launch with Cheltenham Poetry Festival on August 23rd 2022 at 7pm

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