Jemma Hawkins is my guest today, after years of writing poetry for her own pleasure, she has now been published in an anthology and today she is going to tell us her story.
Welcome Jemma, over to you.
I’m a mother of one son, David and I’ve been married to Dave for almost 14 years.
I’ve always loved poetry, ever since I was a youngster; my bookshelf in my bedroom was absolutely full of children’s anthologies, as well as a myriad of fantasy stories, ghost stories and the like. My absolute favourite poet, as an adult, has to be the one and only Edgar Allen Poe because I feel he and I would have been kindred spirits in a way with our passion for all things creepy, dark and mysterious! Oh, and not forgetting of course, a shared passion for absinthe!
I always enjoyed English lessons at school, particularly story writing and poetry because my teachers all said I had a very vivid imagination, so I was able to lose myself in worlds I created in my mind, on paper through my writing. I would often write poems about nature, and family; some were sad, some were funny, but all were as descriptive as I could possibly make them, because I wanted my teachers to see in their minds what I was seeing in my own.
I guess poetry has always been something of an escape for me really, and helped particularly when I was being bullied at secondary school. Unfortunately I began self harming when I was aged around thirteen, so much of my writing became very depressing and miserable, but that is a time I have thankfully been able to put behind me now firmly in the past, where it belongs. I am fortunate enough to have a lovely family and many wonderful friends who are ever supportive of my writing.
I am ashamed to say that I tend to get in my own way when it comes to my writing; that is to say I am something of a perfectionist and can be self deprecating at times, which my dear husband regularly tells me off for! Confidence and nerves are also issues I often struggle with, especially if I am invited to read my work aloud. Once I begin to read though, it is as though I am right there in the midst of what I have created so I do relax after a time and enjoy it! I am not one to blow my own trumpet, so I guess that may be where the nerves come from.
Currently I have about three journals/notebooks on the go, which are slowly filling up with poems, and I have also written a couple of short stories; one of which I entered into a competition in a local newspaper. It didn’t win, but I didn’t allow myself to become disheartened over it because it received a really great reaction from others who read it, so I found that encouraging.
I knew then that I wanted to take my poetry to competition level if I could, but not always having money to spare, meant that I would have to find something with either a very low entry fee, or else, completely free. I was fortunate enough to stumble upon a website that offers free poetry competitions every couple of months, with cash prizes, and the chance to appear in an anthology. I entered a poem I wrote entitled ‘Lady Stubbington’ to a competition where the sole stipulation was to write about something or someone that had strong meaning or connections to where you live.
‘Lady Stubbington‘ is about a dear sweet old lady named Helen who used to make it her duty to clean the refuse and rubbish from around our village. She sadly died a few years ago but will always be remembered with fondness by us and others around Stubbington.
A few weeks after I had entered the competition I received a letter informing me that although I was not a winner, the company were seeking my permission to publish my poem in a forthcoming anthology! I love words, but there are not enough of them to express how excited I felt at the prospect; it was just one poem but it really felt like a hundred to me!! I felt honoured to be included alongside other talented poets and to be acknowledged for something I had worked hard on.
My next step is to attempt a novel, and I guess I’ve learnt a couple of things about being a writer/poet: one is, start small and the second is: words are all I have!
To any of my friends asking about the anthology which my poem appears in, the website aren’t selling it, but it will be available from most bookstores very soon if you give the ISBN number, which is as follows:
The title of the book is The Wider View
Thank you Sylv for having me as a guest on your blog,