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 finished poem?
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 now?
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.
You can buy Bloodlines here from Indigo Dreams.
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.
Hannah 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.
Hannah is currently studying for a Ph.D. in Creative Writing at the University of Chichester.
Instagram: hannahbrockbankwriter Twitter: @hannahbrockbank
Author photo by Natalie Miller