Writing has always been something I did, though for many years it was part of my secret life. If I look back I think it was/is for two reasons: one is to put into words something that is difficult to put into words but needs saying, to get it out of my head and into some form that can be externalised, made safe or cut down to size. The other is some kind of celebration or fixing of experience like a crystallized memory. A photograph of a sort – which might capture something that you didn’t realise at the time, something off kilter in the background. Sometimes there’s another photograph hidden underneath like a secret painting.
I started writing poems when I was in the middle of the blockbuster novel that was going to make my fortune – a reaction to a surfeit of prose. Although it’s interesting to note narrative poems creep in fairly frequently, or I become fascinated by other people’s lives, transform them into characters in the poems. But I am at my most exhilarated when I have no reason to write just an impulse to convey a feeling or atmosphere in code, to get at something more obliquely. I think writers are very dodgy characters and poetry is where the most dodgy ones live.
From school, I remember John Masefield and Thomas Gray and the comfort I took from their rhymes and rhythms. Later, Eliot and Plath, and then much later, the work of Sharon Olds, which I was introduced to at an Adult Ed class. Over the past 15 years I have also curated a lot of poetry events, and heard many poets read work that has moved and inspired me. It is an essential part of my life.
JO COLLEY is a writer and artist interested in the presentation of creativity via the digital: film, audio, image, text. She writes poetry, makes poetry films and podcasts, and loves the sea and the countryside. She won the 2013 Read Our Lips Prize for Dream On, a poetry film. Her most recent poetry collection, Bones of Birds, was published by Smokestack in 2015. She is a visiting artist for the A Year in Beadnell project. Her poem, Comrades, was Diamond Twig Poem of the Month in April 2016
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Bones of Birds