The South Cumbria Poet Laureate 2005
Jennifer Copley of Barrow....
Born in Barrow-in-Furness in 1946, I moved about a bit before finally coming back to Barrow in 1974 to live in a house I had known all my life - my grandmother's.
I had married at 21, done some teaching, had 3 children, then had various part-time jobs to fit in with the family, in particular with my youngest son who had been seriously ill as a child and as a result became Registered Blind.
In 2001 I completed an MA in Creative Writing at Lancaster University, gaining a Distinction. That was a turning point for me. I decided to continue seriously with my writing and was lucky enough to have my first collection - Ice - published by Smith/Doorstop a year later, it being a winner in their annual Book and Pamphlet Competition.
My second collection - House by the Sea - was published by Arrowhead in 2003 and in the last month I have had my first full-length collection accepted by the same publisher. Hopefully it will be out towards the end of this year.
I was interested in the Poet Laureate post because I wanted to show people that poetry is not all clever-clever stuff, written for the elite. It can relate to everyone and it's brilliant when someone comes up to you after a reading and says how a particular poem struck a chord with them.
I am also interested in learning how to run poetry workshops. This is in the process of being firmed up, with various local notables! taking part. Ideally there would be at least 6 workshops, possibly at monthly intervals.
To conclude, I write because I have to. Hardly a day goes by without wanting to feel the buzz, and even if I discard what I've written, it helps in the process of making me a better poet. Poetry enables me to focus on something inside myself, forget my everyday concerns. More people should try it!
Here's a poem. "Ice in August" has been shortlisted for the Strokestown Poetry Competition in County Roscommon, Ireland. At the end of April I have been invited to Strokestown to do a reading and meet the other 9 finalists. Prizes will be announced afterwards, but to me the chance of reading my work at such a prestigious event is something I'm really excited about.