Lockdown, Poetry, SHIELDING and so much more

I think you’ll agree with me when I say 2020 has been a tough year. Not only on a collective level, but a personal level. We’re all living through these experiences, yet have different personal ramifications financially, personally and professionally. A hugely important support network for me during lockdown and subsequent months has been the Writing Squad. Every Wednesday we have a poetry support group where we talk about the highs and lows of our weeks, and discuss the ever changing landscape of the arts scene. It has been wonderful to develop friendships over the past few months, and in amongst all of the awful things happening to the world, it has given me hope.

Since the last time I’ve written on here loads of things have happened to me personally and professionally. In a matter of weeks my comic is going to be published in the Breakthrough: Our Time anthology, which will be for sale on the ‘shop’ tab soon. This has been a scheme funded by ACE England, Lakes international Comic Arts Festival and Flying Penguin Press. Here’s a sneak peak. My artist Michael Lightfoot is incredibly talented, you can find more of his work here

I’ve also had exciting news on the poetry front – I’ve got a pamphlet out with Verve Poetry Press in March 2021. This pamphlet explores more about the seriousness of my illness, but also the unexpected light. The title of it is ‘Where I’d Watch Plastic Tree’s Not Grow’ named after a plastic tree there was in Manchester Children’s hospital in the middle of the outpatients department.

I’ve also been the recipient of a Northern Writers Award for Poetry since the last time I have updated here, which was a complete and utter shock. It has given me the financial resources to finish my first poetry collection, which I am in the process of doing.
I’ve also been involved as one of twenty poets for the BBC Contains Strong Language Festival 2020. It has been a blissful distraction from covid and it’s attached news cycles. One component of this is my commissioned poem about Ruskins View in Kirkby Lonsdale. It is one of very few places in the Lake District which is accessible to wheelchair users.

During the Festival weekend I was involved in the Passing Words event, Ruskin’s view panel discussions, reading with the Dove Cottage Young Poets, and excitingly, I appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row! It was a lovely experience. You can listen to it on BBC sounds here, I’m at 25ish minutes, but I’d really recommend listening to it in full – Kate Clanchy, Zosha Wand and many others are also featured and it’s a really interesting programme.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000ms0m

Phew! I didn’t realise how busy I had been until I started writing all of this down. On the 10th July this year I had Ileostomy surgery. It changed the way the my bowel works and made a stoma which is connected to a bag. One benefit of staying in the house for the last 200 days is that I am now very much used to this new feature of daily life, which is a bonus. Also, during lockdown I had a mental health crisis. I feel very fortunate this happened during lockdown also. Why, you may ask? I didn’t feel like I had to continue as normal – it was okay that I didn’t have a brave face because no one had one, and it forced me into dealing with the things I had let daily life shove out of sight. Interestingly, my stoma bag has helped to improve my mental health, because I’m in less pain. A huge win. I’m still going through CBT and I hope slowly I will get to a better place.

2 Comments

  1. Liz

    Wow, you’ve done utterly amazingly! Huge congratulations on the award!! I also did some publishing this year and I can’t imagine how hard it must have been to keep going for you, but I can totally understand if you found some solace in writing as an activity. Especially poetry. I like to go out and take photographs when I’m feeling overwhelmed and I can definitely relate to needing a creative outlet!

    Like

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