My new poetry collection will be published in December 2020!
For anyone who has read my blogs/visited my website before, you’ll know that I write poetry. It’s something that I didn’t really have an interest in until university, as I preferred to write fiction. At university, and as part of my creative writing modules, I had to start writing poems and this is where I surprised myself with how much I enjoyed it.
For a number of reasons, poetry became a sort of therapeutic activity for me. As someone who had struggled with mental health, but not had the words with which to articulate the issues, poetry became a tool for me to visualise and bring to life those feelings. A lot of the poems I wrote were quite dark by nature, and dealt with some serious mental thoughts as I was experiencing them. I did, occasionally, write lighter-hearted poetry (see my Tinder or seaegull poem) but the feedback I often received – and perhaps it wasn’t intended to rattle me in this way – came in the repeated request of: ‘can’t you write about something happier?’
This further exasperated my mental health and also my frustrations at society for not being able to understand it properly. BUT – this is where I found that actually by sticking true to my poetry and continuing to use it as a voice for my own mental health, people began to speak about it more (at least with me, they did). Sometimes I would have people message me and tell me that a certain stanza had really resonated with them and described something they’d never been able to put in to words, and that is exactly the effect I wanted. This is also – in my opinion – the purpose of poetry (and comedy, to some extent). Poets have a duty to not only tell stories and entertain, but to inform, educate and generate new ideas.
Back in 2016, when I had a small portfolio of 20 poems, I published them in a small book entitled ‘Timeless Hourglass’ – but for many reasons, I edited the words of the poem to avoid upsetting particular people in my life. In essence, I lost a part of my artistic integrity in doing that. I’d also made a few dedications to people who have since deeply upset me and are no longer a part of my life. That, and due to a mini-crisis I was facing, led me to take the book off the market (having only raised maybe £30 for Shelter, my chosen charity). So now, in 2020, I’ve spent time looking back over my portfolio and realised how much bigger it is now. I’ve also matured a lot in my thinking and my reflection, and I’ve decided that I would like to put together all of my works in a new collection that doesn’t censor or omit anything. I’ll stay true to my artistic integriry and showcase what I have felt and experienced and then put in to words, at different points of my life.
There are some poems written when I was 16/17 (and therefore not very good, but it’s important for me to acknowledge them) and some as recent as the last few months during the pandemic. The collection is split in to parts:
I’ve also – in the spirit of continuing to open up conversations around mental health – included some of my diary entries that I wrote throughout the last 7 years. Although reading them back reminds me of the place I was in, it also makes me so grateful for the position I’m in now. Happier, healthier, and a stronger ability to tackle mental health issues. Now, I feel, it is my turn to help others, in any way I can.
In terms of my chosen charities, I will be donating all proceeds of this collection to Mind UK and the Alzheimer’s Society: two charities that do some incredible work and I feel are very deserving of any support we can give. The book is available to pre-order now, and should arrive from 11th December. I hope that my friends, family, colleagues and networks can purchase a copy (with the added bonus of knowing that they are giving to charity) and – at the very least – be entertained by the content.
I’m definitely not a Rupi Kaur, or a John Keats, but I am honest and transparent and I do wear my heart on my sleeve. I’m no longer ashamed of that, and I think that makes my poetry hit harder due to its honesty. I hope others can see this and gain some enjoyment from reading it.