I am delighted to be a part of this wonderful anthology of poetry and prose celebrating women’s loves, lives and landmarks.
Fourteen women have contributed to this anthology. We share our experiences of love and life … and the landmarks that mark our progress through our lives … in our own very varied styles, using poetry and prose.
We want to tell you how … contains deeply heartfelt, pain-fully honest, and beautifully written pieces of writing. For those who have ever lived with hope or regret, you will find your own story amongst these pages. —Clare Summerskill
How awful the gap between the ‘authentic me’, the person you see when you look in my eyes, and the ‘me’ defined, confined by my peers, my achievements measured against my years.
How awful that gap, like the door left ajar to creak, inviting in a chilling breeze that dries eyes, cracks lips, so that tears of indignity are pointless and the humiliation of explanation hurts to speak.
How awful that gap, like a crevasse, deep and shocking, dizzying if I cared to stare down over its icy lip, to gauge the drop, to see how terrible the injury would be if I were to slip.
How awful the gap, and how hopeless my attempts have been to close it.
But that was then. I see now that you don’t need to heave that boulder that will leave you weak to fill that void, or to climb that rope that burns and cuts or traverse on a ladder that asks you to balance too much.
No. Find the paper, grasp the pen – an act of faith, and leap.
My poem ‘Writing is a leap of faith’ has been inspired by the extract from ‘Autobiographical Fragment’ by Charles Dickens. In the extract Dickens expresses ‘the secret agony of his soul’ when the reality of his situation of working in a rat infested warehouse is set in stark contrast to ‘his hopes of growing to be a learned and distinguished man’.
This sentiment struck a chord with me, as I have felt ‘the agony of my soul’ in relation to what I define in my poem as ‘the gap’ between ‘my authentic self’ and ‘the self’ measured and defined on society’s terms, and how exposed I have felt by this. The act of writing, becoming a writer, described as ‘the leap of faith’ in this poem has offered me identity on my terms. I no longer seek to close ‘the gap’ but rather have found my own way to traverse it. I can imagine myself in nightmarish dreams, like Dickens, looking back and shuddering at the awful thought I might not have found writing.
I have utilised the prose poem form to speak to the flow of Dickens’ narrative.
‘Writing is a leap of faith’ has been published by Leicester University’s Centre for New Writing in a pamphlet and online.
composed mixed tapes, wrote odes, baked cakes, your name
on my lips, in my brain. ‘Be mine’ I implored,
as I failed exams, missed deadlines, endured pain.
I lost sleep, got sick, felt weak, refused to
see sense – still convinced that you could be mine.
And through it all, silent, wise and kind, you
knew the one answer for me would be time.
You were so gentle with your rejection.
Yes, I can see that now, on reflection.
‘On Reflection’ has been published by Paradise Press as part of We want to tell you how… a wonderful anthology of poetry and prose celebrating women’s loves, lives and landmarks.
‘We want to tell you how … contains deeply heartfelt, pain-fully honest, and beautifully written pieces of writing. For those who have ever lived with hope or regret, you will find your own story amongst these pages.’ —Clare Summerskill
‘On Reflection’ has also been published by Leicester University’s Centre for New Writing in a pamphlet and online.