“A single walker, stepping into the procession of language.” Seamus Heaney
When I was a child of three an older brother, in trying to teach me French, Spanish and Greek, introduced me to the pleasure in the sounds of other languages, without understanding meaning. From an early age accents and dialects fascinated me, whether the rough burr of farmers at an Ulverston auction market, or the lilt and fall of family-visiting Irish, Polish, Italian and American relatives in Cleator Moor and Whitehaven, mingling with west Cumbrian dialect and its why-use-two-syllables-when-three-can-make-a-word-into-a-song? For example, to-o-wast, for toast, or dad’s ‘Ista-ga’in tae Gaa-ity tae blaw tha’ nowuz an’ mak’ a scuttle?’ Meaning, ‘Are you going to the Gaiety Picture House in order to blow your nose and make a noise? The delight in the rhythm of people’s voices is to me something that connects us through, as Robert Pinsky notes, a ‘column of air inside the chest’.
An intensely remembered childhood moment is of writing my first poem after I had became mesmerised by the wind-swaying branches of two silver birches in Bardsea Wood, feeling that if I let go I would become part of them. Years later I discovered Robert Frost’s poem ‘Birches’ and was struck by the similarity between my experience and how Frost described it in his poem. I, too, became “a swinger of birches.” As a child I only dimly understood that it was a seminal moment in my life. What did the experience mean? How could I ‘become part of the birches’? It was an experience that propelled me into wanting to gain an insight into this kind of imaginative encounter. It’s been an itch to be scratched, a mystery to be solved, a ‘something’ I need to address. It’s a lifelong quest and one way I felt it could be understood was through poetry.
Mind you, I always thought you had to be clever to write poetry and go to Oxford or Cambridge University – poetry wasn’t for me! However, after years of working at a variety of office jobs and encouraged by my husband Geoff, I finally plucked up confidence, took the plunge and did a degree titled Imaginative Writing/Literature, Life and Thought thinking ‘well, if I’m useless at poetry, surely I can write an essay!’ To my delight I fell into poetry and came away at the age of 44 with a degree. That was it; I was Paul on the Road to Damascus! Even more so when I went on a life-changing writing course at Ty Newydd, titled ‘Poetry, Healing and Meaning’ co-run by Rose Flint and David Hart, where I discovered that creative writing could be used in a therapeutic way. The light of realisation that yes THIS is what I want to do, use poetry/creative writing to help understand each other and our connections with the world, human and non-human, burns more fiercely than ever.
Geraldine Green gained a PhD in Creative Writing Poetry and an MA Creative Writing Poetry (Distinction) through Lancaster University; a BA Joint Hons (First) and a Research Diploma in Ecopoetics at Liverpool John Moores University. She is a freelance creative writing tutor, mentor, visiting lecturer at the University of Cumbria and an associate editor of online magazine Poetry Bay
Her collections are The Skin and Passio Flarestack Pubications, Poems of a Mole Catcher’s Daughter Palores Publications and The Other Side of the Bridge by Indigo Dreams. Geraldine was a contributor to a book on therapeutic writing titled Writing Works: A Resource Handbook for Therapeutic Writing Workshops and Activities published by Jessica Kingsley. Her next collection, Salt Road will be published in summer 2013, also by Indigo Dreams.
Geraldine’s poetry has been widely anthologised in the UK, USA and Italy and translated into Greek, German and Romanian. She frequently performs her poetry in the USA.
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