It has been a summer of clearing and cleaning and taking stock. One of the clearings has been a load of old paperwork, and in the process I turned up lots of stuff, including an old Aspects programme from 1995. I was one of the readers; my first inclusion in the programme for a literary festival and launching my very first publication, Kissing Ghosts, a chapbook from Lapwing Press. Seeing the programme brought back lots of memories; I remember what I was wearing and how nervous but excited I was. My mother was not very well, just at the beginning of the long illness that would rob her of her memory, but she was well enough though to attend the reading, the only time she heard me read my own work. I always found her a difficult woman to please, but I felt that she was proud of me that evening, if a little concerned that I was breaking the family code of ‘whatever you say, say nothing’.

Much has changed for me in the nineteen years since then but there have also been constants. One of these is that I’m still writing poetry. This may not seem much of an achievement in itself, but it feels like it. I’ve stuck with it, that desire to craft words and thoughts and experiences into something truthful and maybe even beautiful. I’m in it for the long haul and somehow that feels like the real achievement. I have stayed with that part of myself, writing in hours snatched from other things, through periods of doubt; through good times and bad.

I’ve seen discussions on social media as to whether it’s ok to call yourself a poet. Well, I’m going to claim the title. I’m a lot of things – and one of them is poet.

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