My debut full collection was written in a relatively short time frame – from the beginning of my extra-marital affair in September 2014 to the day my divorce came through in April, 2015. The publication, a year on, did indeed coincide with my 40th birthday, a conscience decision but one that proved to be more painful that I had anticipated; two huge milestones that once again proved to be triggers for self-reflection.
My writing has always come from a place of deep, raw emotion and each piece in the collection was written at the points in time. When I came to put the collection together and begin the editing process, there were a number of pieces I could barely remember writing. I think this reflects the strength of emotion – mainly grief and confusion – I was experiencing, and how I used writing as an outlet and tool for attempting to make sense of a whole set of feelings I had never experienced before. There is an irony in the fact my ex-husband partially blames the breakdown of our marriage to my, at times almost compulsive, introspective and addictive writing as a way of processing my difficulties, as opposed to communicating with him. I concede that there is an element of truth to this.
Comparably, my first pamphlet, Fingerprints published in 2014, reflects on events through my childhood and adolescence. These poems perhaps have a more considered feel to them but perhaps less emotional authenticity.
A year on from the completion of Laid Bare, I am performing the poems from within a different context – and sometimes it is difficult to re-live those moments. The editing process was certainly extremely uncomfortable and I removed a couple of poems that felt were just too exposing of my family. However, I believe in facing up to the consequences of one’s actions and I hope that I have achieved this with the collection. Having the book in print and ‘laying myself bare’ to the public has felt threatening and dangerous at times; I often receive emails asking if I ever have times in my life where I feel happy. There are some readers who will define me by the contents of the book and there is little I can do to redress that. All I can say is that for the period of time in which it was written, it was certainly my brutal truth.
I work with teenagers in workshop environments to help them access their truth using poetry. I believe this is a good starting point for anyone prepared to take on a literary journey.
Over the past year, I have been working on another poetry collection, Imperfect Fit, that examines the physical and psychological impact of promiscuity. Needless to say, this too is written from personal experience and takes intimacy and vulnerability to a new level for me.
I have had two successful launches in Bristol and Birmingham (the two cities that are represented in Laid Bare) and have another Frome in October and Bradfor on Avon in November. I have headlined this year at Taking the Mic in Exeter, Blue Walnut in Torquay, Frome café poets, Hammer and Tongue in Bristol and occasionally still enter local slams!
I am performing at various festivals over the Summer: Ledbury, Bradford on Avon fringe, Glas-denbury, Buddhafield, Womad and Green Gathering.
You can find me on Facebook at Hannah Poetry or my supportive group, ‘Writing works’ where writers from around the world share their poetry or short prose.
email firstname.lastname@example.org for performance or workshop bookings.
(I need to work out how to make one of those website things!)