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Ventures Poet: Jackie Wills

Posted by Arc, 11th September 2013

In anticipation of the Ventures Tour we're chatting with some of the poets about their approach to the tour. First up is Jackie Wills

What is it you're looking forward to about your readings? And what do you hope to gain from the experiences?

I love to read alongside other poets. Readings for me are as much an opportunity to hear other people's work as to read my own aloud. They're a great opportunity to meet people, to be sociable. My own reading of poetry been so influenced by hearing poems live that I hope at least one or two will remain in people's minds.

What do you enjoy about reading to an audience?

Being part of a community of readers and listeners. Sharing a love of writing and reading.

What were the origins of Woman's Head as Jug?

The title came from the notebook of Jane Fordham, an artist I work with. The earliest poems in the book were written after helping her put a series of monoprints in order. Then I was given the impetus to write with my first Royal Literary Fund fellowship, which lifted the anxiety of freelancing for a while. The book's come out of Brighton, friends' experiences of menopause, wanting to explore my own transition through my fifties and from curiosity about my family.

What is important about the book for you?

The time it's taken me. The process of sharing ideas with Jane and sharing poems with two groups of poets in Brighton and London whose opinions I value. The challenge of shaping poems into a collection.

What, do you think, is it about the book that will benefit from reading live?

Listeners will hear the voice that has informed the poems. I find that when I hear poems I've read on the page, I go back to the poems and understand them differently. Often in a live reading, the humour of a poem is clearer than on the page, or the emotion. Listening to a poet reading gives me a sense of the personality behind the poems.

What do you hope your audience will gain from the experience?

Hearing a poem makes the reading experience more intimate because if you then go back to those poems, you can imagine the writer's face, their gestures, their voice. The poem then lives in society as well as on the page.

Jackie begins her tour at the King's Lynn Festival on 26th September. All her events are detailed here