I'm delighted to have talented poet, writer and artist, Hannah Brockbank as a guest on the Blog today. Hannah's debut poetry pamphlet Bloodlines (Indigo) has been recently launched and she's here to talk about her poems and process ... I highly recommend this collection and believe this is the just beginning of Hannah's poetry career.
Through a linked sequence of poems, Bloodlines gives witness to a woman’s struggle to find connection with an absent father. Encompassing themes of biological inheritance and cultural disinheritance, the poems are compellingly intense. Rooted in landscape, the language is elemental, coursing through a series of imaginary encounters and moments of clarity.
Q: This is your debut collection, can you share how this came to be
written and then published?
A:Bloodlines was born out of a
desire to explore my experience of growing up without a father. I have no
recollection of how he looked, moved, and sounded, so this was very liberating
creatively. I quickly realised that I’d tapped into a rich vein of emotion and
was intrigued to explore it further through poetry. I became very curious about
my biological inheritance, and also, my cultural disinheritance. As time
progressed, writing about an imagined relationship with my father became a
conscious decision. I could see there was enough scope in it too, for it to
become the focus of my MA Creative Writing dissertation which I completed in
2015 at the University of Chichester.
Once I had a polished pamphlet
of 28 poems, I set about looking for a publisher. I spent a good deal of time
researching publishers that might be interested in my work in respect of its
theme and style, and I also spoke to other published poets about their
recommendations. I decided to send it to Indigo Dreams Publishing as I enjoy
reading their publications and magazines. After a few months, I received an
email saying they liked Bloodlines
and wanted to publish it. I was over the moon!
Q: I particularly love how many of your poems have a very domestic
setting and yet others beautifully weave in nature or animals. What triggers
the birth of a poem for you? Can you talk through your process of first idea to
A: A large proportion of the time, my poems are triggered by a strong
emotional response to an image, although occasionally, an interesting phrase or
an idiom can intrigue me too. I’ll then write a ‘spill’ in my notebook, which
is basically a mind map, except it doesn’t have order and can even include
sketches, or clippings, or odd words that wouldn’t mean much to an outsider.
I’ll keep adding to it over a number of days. I often start to find links
between words or images. I call these ‘serendipitous moments’ and they feel
rather like a gift or a good sign. At that point, I’ll start to free-write the
poem. After numerous redrafts, I’ll start to think about form and line, and how
these can increase the poem’s resonance. Once I feel I have a reasonable draft,
I will share the poem with my workshop group.
Q: You had a wonderful opportunity to spend time at the Museum of Motherhood
in Florida last year, how did this come about? And did it inspire you to write?
A: I am currently studying for a creative Ph.D at the University of
Chichester which includes the creation of a full collection of poems about my
mothering experience, and an accompanying study that involves, partly,
examining matrifocal narratives in poetry. I searched the internet for
residencies that would provide time and space to write, and had opportunities
to further support my research. I was delighted when I discovered the Museum of
Motherhood (M.O.M.). in Florida. I immediately applied for a two week residency
and was accepted soon after. I stayed between 23rd October – 6th
November last year. Whilst at M.O.M. I was able to handle exhibits, research,
write, and make good use of the museum’s full collection of Demeter Press
works. I also made a good friend in the museum’s Founder and Director, Martha
Joy Rose. A truly inspirational woman.
Q: What is your next project, can you share what you’re working on right
A: I’m currently taking a short pause from an intensive 8 months of
writing poetry in order to recharge. As much as I adore writing poetry, it can
be emotionally greedy, so I’ve learnt that taking a short break now and then is
beneficial, and as a wise friend pointed out to me, will actually help future
productivity. So for now, I am walking, swimming, and painting. I think a
writer’s mind, however, never truly switches off, and I’d be fibbing if I said
I wasn’t still jotting ideas down in my notebook.
There will be a book launch in early spring at the University of
Chichester (date to be confirmed). I will also read at some local Open Mics in
the near future. Please check my website for further details and updates.
Brockbank is joint winner of the 2016 Kate Betts Award. Publications featuring
her work include Hallelujah for 50ft Women Anthology (Bloodaxe), A Way through the Woods Anthology (Binsted
Arts), Full Moon & Foxglove Anthology (Three Drops Press), The
London Magazine, Envoi, and When
Women Waken Journal. Her poems also featured in the Chalk Poets
Anthology as part of the 2016 Winchester Poetry Festival. She has also
written feature essays for Thresholds
International Short Story Forum.
currently studying for a Ph.D. in Creative Writing at the University of
Tomorrow I'll be meeting my writing buddy, Wendy, to review how we performed against our goals for 2017 and to set new targets for 2018. Yes, teacakes will be involved. You can read about Wendy's writing year here. For me 2017 has been a true rollercoaster year with some spectacular highs, along with a deep, dark low. The low was a personal one when my mum died suddenly in February. I'm still processing that loss and her passing has triggered some difficult emotions and memories, along with extreme anxiety at times. But this is a writing blog and I'll focus on what I achieved in 2017 ...
For the geeks here are the stats:
Short stories written = 4
Flash stories written = 6
Features written = 2
1 new novel started
Crime novel was called in by 6 literary agents but sadly no offers (and very little feedback as to why...)
I was also commissioned to prepare and lead two writing workshops: one on writing for competitions and the other on micro fiction. Both were successful with a good turnout.
Competitions entered = 42 requiring fees, 21 free entry
Submissions to magazines/anthologies/online opportunities = 22
Acceptances = 10
Income = >4 times what I earned in 2016, it has been a very good year for getting paid to write! However, I am still a long (long) way off paying income tax, which is my ultimate goal (albeit an odd one!).
Here are some of the places my work was published in 2017:
Thresholds Short Story Forum
50 Word Stories
In the Moment magazine
Flash Fiction Festival Anthology ONE
Brighton Prize Anthology
I YOU HE SHE IT Experiments in Viewpoint anthology (Huddersfield University)
The Prosecco and Walnut Whips came out for the following successes: Regional Winner (Canada & Europe) Commonwealth Short Story Prize, which included publication on Granta (links below in A-Z), £2,500 prize and an all expenses paid trip to Singapore for the prize giving. It was the high point of my year and of my writing career to date. Writing Magazine also published my 2-page article on winning the prize.
Other paid wins/placements included:
Runner-up Retreat West themed flash comps x2
2nd Prize GRIST Point-of-View comp
2nd Prize Flash500
3rd Prize Reflex Fiction Autumn Flash comp
Story of the month on 50 word stories
Notable listings included:
Longlisted for Mogford Prize, Reflex Fiction, Flash500 Novel comp (for a speculative novel)
Special Commendation for Fabula Nivalis prize
Shortlisted for Flash500 Novel comp (for a crime novel) and Bridport Flash Fiction.
Looking back at these stats makes me realise what a good year it has been. Odd, because I felt it was a bit of a wasted time as I hadn't written as much as previous years. Much of my success/publications came from work written before 2017, which demonstrates the 3 P's of writing: Persistence, Patience and Positive thinking. So I'm hoping new fiction written in 2017 will start to prosper and find good homes in 2018 (and beyond). I'm also really fired up to write new fiction: long, short and perhaps even some drama.
Finally, I looked over the stories published in 2017 and animals feature in many so I thought I'd end with a brief A-Z of animal themed stories that came out last year.
B is for Bird: Twitching, shortlisted for Bridport Flash Fiction and to be published 2018 FLASH: International Flash Fiction magazine
C is for Cat: Pandora's Cat, 3rd Prize Reflex Fiction - read it here
D is for Dragon: Skylighter, 2nd Prize Flash500 - read it here
H is for Hare: The Frost Hare, Brighton Prize Anthology (published in paperback) AND Hare, published on Spelk, read it here
R is for Rat: Positive Outcome, Runner-up Retreat West - read it here
S is for Swan: Inheritance, published on Reflex Fiction - read it here
M is for Moth: The Naming of Moths, published on Granta (CW Prize Regional Winner) - read it here
W is for Whale: Fish of the Sea, published Nov issue In the Moment magazine
W is for (Were)Wolf: Lunacy, Runner-up Retreat West - read it here
Did you achieve your writing goals for 2017? What new writing projects do you want to start in 2018? Please share ... and KEEP WRITING