Interview with Paul Brookes – The Wombwell Rainbow
Spirit Mother was launched on 6th August 2022 by The Hedgehog Poetry Press. My publication date was magical thanks to Paul Brookes who interviewed me throughout the day and publicised my answers on his website. Paul has now made it so the reader can read the collective interview in one place.
If you click HERE you’ll be able to read all Paul’s questions and my answers. I’m told it makes for interesting reading.
Thank you, Paul Brookes for making my day extra special.
I’m honoured to feature a fellow Hedgehog Poetry Press poet, the lovely Lucy Heuschen, on Patricia’sPen. Lucy bravely shares how she rediscovered her creative voice. Without further ado, it’s over to Lucy.
How I rediscovered my creative voice
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!
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.
I am so excited to welcome my latest poetry baby, Spirit Mother, into the world. I’m very thankful to Mark Davidson at The Hedgehog Poetry Press for believing in me, and not in just publishing one poetry pamphlet, but five, and all in a little over two years.
Spirit Mother was fun to research and write. I learned many ancient myths that I wouldn’t have otherwise uncovered. Often I’m inspired by a nature photograph and the first thing I do is check to see if there are any folklore, myths or legends around it. Nine times out of ten there is and I then have an idea for a new poem.
Spirit Mother is a narrative compilation and where some of the retelling of tales are too long, they’ve become sequences.
I’m hoping that my readers will be as enchanted as I was as they chase each mythical tale and experience the myth on turning over each page.
Thank you to Mary Ford Neal and Brian McManus for taking the time to read my manuscript and come up with such excellent blurbs.
Are you ready to experience they myth?
Order a signed limited edition copy – HERE and scroll down once in the website shop.
I’m delighted and proud to announce the launch of Symbiosis, a conversational poetry pamphlet, published by The Hedgehog Poetry Press. Symbiosis was a winning entry last year in Hedgehog Poetry’s conversational pamphlet competition. It has been on pre order so there aren’t many limited edition copies left. If you’d like a copy then grab one quickly via my website shop (link below) and scroll down. Readers are loving it. Why not give it a go? It not only makes for a great read but a perfect gift or keepsake.
It gives me great delight to introduce dystopian/Sci-fi author, Lydia Baker, chatting about her brand new novel Ava. Without further ado, it’s over to Lydia.
I’m excited to introduce Ava, the first in a trilogy of dystopian/Sci-Fi books, aimed at young adults and adults alike.
Ava was inspired by many things – a love of film, of stories, of science fiction and thoughts of ‘what if such and such happened? How would the world be after that?’. I wanted to explore the idea of a girl in a world that was supposed to be safe, but actually it was doing more harm than good – like all good dystopian fiction! Good science fiction and good stories let you escape the day to day and that is something I wanted people to be able to do with my novel.
‘Ava’ evolved from the idea of a world facing an apocalyptic event, which became physically divided into two separate places; both places wondering if the other had survived. I wanted to look at what the lengths people might go to, to save themselves and look a little closer at good and evil, and how one might think they are doing good but actually its detrimental. And throw in a few aliens too!
I tend to plan my writing loosely, with an outline and an initial idea. But as I type the story itself begins to unfold and the characters develop almost of their own accord. Needless to say, I do a lot of going back and tweaking when I decided mid-way through to change the whole storyline! I make countless notes; on my phone, in note books, at the bottom of my manuscript.
Dystopian fiction and science fiction are popular at the moment especially dystopian YA – you may have read books such as Hunger Games and Divergent, which have been made into films. I love the excitement and self discovery these books portray and I hope readers will enjoy the same things in Ava.
Ava was written after I had self-published a fantasy novel and my youngest child was big enough to sleep! Needing to write is like an itch you need to scratch, it’s addictive. A few ideas had been swirling around for a while and I began putting them to paper and ‘Ava’ was created.
I love dystopian movies, science fiction and post-apocalyptic worlds so I wanted to create my own. I’ve enjoyed bringing a world to life that is totally different to the one we live in, where things that would never happen in real life can happen. It’s been as much a journey for me as it is for the future readers. I hope my readers love it as much as I have loved writing it.
Lydia Baker is an award-winning author of science fiction and fantasy living in West Sussex with her husband and four children. She works part-time as well as imagining and penning new novels. When she’s not creating books you can escape into, Lydia likes to crochet and to go running.
Her novel self-published novel ‘The Return of the Queen’ won The Pink Heart Society Reviewers Choice Award 2019 for Paranormal/Fantasy Romance, whereas ‘AVA’ came 5th in the Agora Lost the Plot, Work in Progress Prize.
Congratulations to fabulous poet, Mary Ford Neal, on the release of her brand new collection Relativism published by Taproot Press. Mary has come along to share her reflection on writing. Without further ado, it’s over to Mary.
Reflection on Writing
Mary Ford Neal
Most of the poems in Relativism were written in 2020 and early 2021, when my son and I were temporarily living with my parents for practical reasons arising out of the COVID-19 restrictions. It can be no coincidence that living with my family during a pandemic caused me to meditate on themes of history, remembrance, belonging, allegiance, old certainties and new uncertainties, all overhung with spectres of loss and ending, and questions about what really matters. The title ‘Relativism’ obviously signifies family members, and the book is full of mothers, fathers, husbands, children, and grandparents; but it also evokes relationship and connectedness more generally – relationship to times, places, ideas, values, and so on. The word ‘relativism’ also refers to the philosophical idea that (very simply put) truth, falsity, right, and wrong are not objective or absolute, but context-dependent. This is another theme in the book: a loss of old certainties, a journey into doubt, and trying to make sense of a new, less certain moral and social landscape. So ‘relativism’ is meant to evoke all of these things, and I also like the fact that the word represents a connection with my academic life as an ethicist.
The writing process for this book was my usual one, beginning with a period of intense reading where I just let myself steep in the work of other poets. Canonical work always features, but I tend to focus on more contemporary work – collections by my favourite living poets, and recent issues of online literary magazines. I just immerse myself in writing that inspires me, letting it prompt me in various ways. At this stage, I keep a note of any images or themes or lines that suggest themselves, but I’m not trying to produce finished poems. After a while, once I’ve done enough reading and reflecting, I find the poems just begin to land. The ‘landing’ is always exciting, and sometimes a poem lands almost fully-formed, but most often I’ll spend the days or weeks that follow reworking it into its final form. I find my writing happens in themed blocks – so the first book was all about a particular relationship, and the second book is all about whatever ‘home’ and relatedness and belonging mean. So I don’t find that I need to try to theme each collection; that seems to happen naturally. At the moment I’m working on a new group of poems which may one day end up being in a third book, and these are also themed and very much distinct from the previous two collections. A key priority for me is not to turn poetry into ‘work’ – I have a career already. That’s not to say I don’t take my writing seriously – I do – but I insist on doing it, and the stuff that comes with it, only insofar as I enjoy it. If I find it becoming a chore, I step back for a while.
Mary Ford Neal is a writer and academic from the West of Scotland, and still lives there with her family, working as an academic lawyer and healthcare ethicist. Mary is the author of two poetry collections, ‘Dawning’ (Indigo Dreams, 2021) and ‘Relativism’ (Taproot Press, 2022). Her poetry has been widely published in magazines and anthologies, and has been Pushcart nominated. Mary is an assistant editor of Nine Pens Press and 192 magazine.
Discover folklore about oak and mistletoe, and legends around lavender, white lily, amaryllis, banyan, rowan and hazel. Be surprised at how the nightingale got its sweet voice or how the devil tricked a fisherman. Be enchanted as you chase each mythical tale. Experience the myth as you turn the page.
“Spirit Motheris a sensory voyage of discovery and delight through a rich landscape of Greek, Celtic, and Native American mythologies. The poems are by turns delicate and earthy, juxtaposing the sensual and sublime with the sharp and shocking to remarkable effect. The ancient feels at once eternal (‘Galanthus’) and starkly contemporary (‘Lavender’), and the senses are fully engaged by a heady palette of shades, scents, sounds, and sensations. Patricia M Osborne has created a collection to be treasured – each poem imprints itself on the reader, and many will never leave.”
Mary Ford Neal, Writer and Academic
“Spirit Mother offers the reader a compelling journey through a subtle plurality of viewpoints; a cumulative, unified and immensely powerful, life-affirming lens. Osborne employs all the writing skills which have earned her regular five-star accolades for her work over many years. You render yourself a clear disservice if missing out on this outstanding volume of poetry. Don’t let that happen.”
Brian McManus, Reviewer, Writer, Pushcart nominated poet.
Does this sound like a poetry collection you’d like to read?
Preorders available at a special price of £5.50 plus p&p for signed limited edition copies.
It’s a delight to welcome back the lovely Gaynor Kane to Patricia’s Pen, and in particular because she has a fabulous new poetry collection to celebrate. Without further ado, it’s over to Gaynor.
The Inspiration Behind Writing ‘Eight Types of Love‘
I’m very grateful to Patricia for having me back on her blog to chat about my next poetry pamphlet, Eight Types of Love.
It all started in May 2021 when The Hedgehog Poetry Press announced that the monthy challenge for ‘cult’ members (a subscription/membership scheme) was to write a wee pamphlet of poems that look at “Stories of Love”. I started by researching ‘love’ and quickly discovered that the Ancient Greeks had classified love into eight specific categories Eros (sexual passion); Philia (friendship); Ludus (playful love); Agape (love for everyone); Pragma (longstanding love); Philautia (love of the self); Storge (family love); Mania (obsessive love).
Using these eight categories I began to write poems but if truth be told I didn’t have time to write 16 new poems. So, I looked in my folder and discovered some unpublished work on the theme. For example, I really wanted to include a poem that I wrote in January 2020 about bringing in the new decade with a friend who was still grieving from the untimely loss of her sister. My friends and I had a lovely night with her and her family, but it was tinged with sadness. Her mother had shown us a new bracelet she had which was engraved with her daughter’s fingerprint. That next morning a pigeon crashed into our landing window leaving a dusty imprint like a shadow of itself and it made me think about the marks we leave behind us.
Some of the categories were more difficult to respond to; like the obsessive love category. I’m very fortunate that I’m in a loving relationship so in order to respond to that I had to use my imagination. I have performed one of the poems from this section, entitled Stalker, at Flash Fiction Armagh – here is the video: Click HERE
You can read one of the poems from the Philautia (self love) section, here in the Black Nore Review. I found this category challenging as well, as a women and a mother I realised that I often prioritise the care of others. Consequently, the categories on family love and selfless love were easier to respond to.
I was delighted when Mark Davidson, at The Hedgehog Poetry Press, announced that myself and Des Childs were joint winners. I was also lucky enough to receive some funding from the Arts Council for Northern Ireland which allowed me to engage in some mentoring services. I choose Dr Mary Montague as I had worked previously with her on my collection Memory Forest. Mary was an incredibly generous mentor and suggested many edits to make the collection stronger. She also wrote a wonderful endorsement for the back cover (pictured below).
If this blog, or the blurb, has whetted your appetite pre-orders of Eight Types of Love open today and you could be the first to purchase! Just click HERE.
The official release date is30th July 2022.Thank you for reading.
About Gaynor Kane
Gaynor Kane (nee Carson) fell into writing accidentally. At forty, instead of buying a mid-life crisis sports car, she started a degree with the Open University. She finished her BA (Hons) in Humanities with Literature in 2016 with a module on creative writing. Since then, she has been widely published in journals and anthologies and listed, placed, and won, several poetry competitions. She is vice-chair of Holywood Writer’s Group and a member of Women Aloud NI. Gaynor also volunteers for EastSide Arts during their summer festival and also during the CS Lewis Festival.
Gaynor’s micro-pamphlet ‘Circling the Sun’, about the early aviatrixes, was published in 2018. Her pamphlet ‘Memory Forest’, about burial rituals and last wishes, was published in 2019. Gaynor’s debut full poetry collection, ‘Venus in pink marble’, is published in 2020. These books are all published by Hedgehog Poetry Press.
It gives me great pleasure today to introduce, Judith Barrow, an author I greatly admire. Judith has come along to Patricia’s Pen to talk about her writing journey. Without further ado, it’s over to Judith.
My Writing Journey
Every now and then I read about an author’s journey into publishing, which always leads into thoughts about my own convoluted journey.
Like many writers I’ve dabbled in creative writing since childhood: poems, articles, short stories, competitions, and pieces in newspapers.
Years ago when the children joined in various sport activities, and in the spirit of giving something back to those groups, I joined their committees ‒ usually fooled into the unpopular post of minute secretary. It was after the presentation of one set of minutes that I was bluntly told by another member that I “should go into writing novels” after presenting the minutes of a particularly volatile meeting. Caught up in the moment I’d written how one man “shouted”, “banged on the table”, “insulted *******”, and finally “walked out”. It was a true account, but, looking back, it’s understandable that I was asked to relinquish my post. Recollecting this I’ve often wondered why I hadn’t done similar on other committees; it would have saved me years when I could have been honing my creative writing skills in a more productive way.
Much later, one of our daughters was adamant she was leaving school before A levels. I persuaded her to take an evening class with me (but only in English language – there was no point in asking me to take an A level in Maths, not after barely scraping by with a D at GCE level)
It started well enough ‒ well, for me anyway ‒ she soon found out that going to night school with mum was ‘not cool’. She went back to her own school. I carried on. A year later I was awarded an A – was pronounced “Learner of the Year” in the county and encouraged to apply for a BA Open University course.
Four years later, with one year off to tackle breast cancer, I gained the degree. and had written a book. Which, with trepidation I sent out to agents.
There was no stopping me! I applied to take an MA in Creative Writing.
And a year after that, was “headhunted”, no less, to be tutor of creative writing for the county.
Ever heard of imposter syndrome? That was me for the first year of teaching. One day “someone will find me out ‒ I’m really just a housewife and mother ‒ oh, and working in the civil service,”(my so-called proper job).
Once, I was contacted by an agent, only to be told, the day after, that she thought I was someone else ‒ didn’t want me.
Another agent sent my book to a commercial editor. I had to pay (yes I was that daft). The result ‒ a story I didn’t even recognise as my own. I said goodbye to that agent.
Then I found my publishers, Honno. I’d arrived as an author. At last!
And I was thrilled to have one of my books, The Memory, shortlisted for the Wales Book of the Year 2021 (The Rhys Davies Trust Fiction Award).
About Judith Barrow
Judith Barrow, originally from Saddleworth, a group of villages on the edge of the Pennines, has lived in Pembrokeshire, Wales, for over forty years.
She has an MA in Creative Writing with the University of Wales Trinity St David’s College, Carmarthen. BA (Hons) in Literature with the Open University, a Diploma in Drama from Swansea University. She is a Creative Writing tutor.
She has had six books published with https://www.honno.co.uk, the longest-standing independent women’s press in the UK.
Her next book, Sisters, will be published by Honno in March 2023 and she is currently writing her next family saga.
Brian McManus was a stranger when he first approached me a year ago to see if I’d like to work with him on an entry for The Hedgehog Poetry Press ‘Conversationally Yours‘ competition. I’d heard his name because we were both published poets with Hedgehog Press beforehand, and our paths had crossed during Open Mics but otherwise we didn’t know anything about each other. He lived in Scotland and I was in South East England. By the time we had finished our collection we had become good friends.
It was a huge compliment to be asked by Brian and because I was up for a challenge, I agreed. We decided between us that Brian would kick us off with the first poem. As a nature poet (also enjoying a bit of myth) I wasn’t sure how I’d follow Brian but I needn’t have worried because it seemed a natural process to springboard from Brian’s The Intellectual Nomad to my poem, King of the Forest.
Backwards and forwards we went, each responding to the other’s poem on our journey, returning home with a theme of hope. We submitted our entry and waited. We were overjoyed when the results were announced to have been selected one of three winners.
We are lucky with The Hedgehog Poetry Press as Mark Davidson allows us input into the cover and Brian and I knew exactly what we wanted. A bee on a purple flower. I set out to my local park one day last summer with the challenge to come home with a decent photograph to use. I’m not the greatest photographer (although I’d like to be) and only had the camera on my old iPhone. However, after spending a couple of hours on a summer’s day, taking shots, I am pleased to say that I had an image ready to be used for our cover.
We sent off the image along with our manuscript and Mark Davidson @ The Hedgehog Poetry Press completed his magic.
A couple of weeks ago the pamphlets arrived in the post.