5 Questions for: Jill Munro

Jill MunroPaper Swans Press and Jill Munro

Jill’s poems, Linda’s Bedroom and Great Tits, Fat Balls were published in The Chronicles of Eve. Jill was guest-judge for our Poetry of Roses competition and will be co-editing Best of British.

 

Bio:

Jill Munro has been, or is to be, published in various magazines including Orbis, Prole, Ink Sweat and Tears, South Magazine, Poetry News, And Other Poems and The Frogmore Papers. She has been anthologised in The Chronicles of Eve, Paper Swans.  Long-listed three times for the National Poetry Competition, Jill’s first collection ‘Man from La Paz’ was published in 2015 by Green Bottle Press. She won the Fair Acre Press Pamphlet Competition 2015 with ‘The Quilted Multiverse’, published April 2016.

When did you first start writing poetry and why?

Apart from writing poetry at school and winning a Daily Mail poetry competition aged 10 (ahem!), I started writing poetry on an Open University Creative Writing course in 2011, tutored by the brilliant poet John McCullough.  Despite covering various different types of writing include life and short story writing, it was the poetry module which really grabbed me and I haven’t been able to turn off the tap since then.  It’s thanks to John’s encouragement and enthusiasm that my poetry ‘career’ began.

 

You seem to be very busy at the moment! Tell us all about it…

Since my first collection Man from La Paz was launched in July last year (Green Bottle Press), I’ve had some competition success including a short-listing in the Charles Causley competition and the Princemere Poetry Prize.  I also won the inaugural Fair Acre Press Pamphlet competition (in the previously published section) with The Quilted Multiverse.  Part of the prize, apart from publication of the pamphlet, was reading at the Wenlock Festival in April this year with the judge, Jonathan Edwards, which was a great thrill.  I’ve just returned from a hugely enjoyable week’s Masterclass with Carol Ann Duffy and Gillian Clarke at Ty Newydd and I am also reading at Sissinghurst Castle Gardens as part of the National Trust Rose Festival in June, having judged the ‘Poetry of Roses’ competition.  So, yes, busy … and writing all the time, of course!

 

If you had to save just one poetry book from your bookshelf, what would it be and why?
An original 1967 Bodley Head edition of Rosemary Tonks’ ‘Iliad of Broken Sentences’.  This was a rare internet find in 2011 when I’d first started reading her work. Very few of these are in circulation, even though she has now been brought to wider attention following her death and the re-publication of her poetry.  I was intrigued by the story of the ‘missing poet’ since first being introduced to her work by Jo Shapcott on a Faber course and I love her weirdly emotional and baroque style, to which I particularly relate.  She superbly recreates 1960s London – ‘the sofas, fogs and cinemas’.

 

There’s lots of talk about ‘form’ in poetry; going in and out of fashion. What’s your opinion on form?

Part of the OU course I took involved writing in form and I’ve had a go at most types including pantoums and sestinas (even though having written what I’d thought to be a moderately successful sestina, I was instructed by Neil Rollinson – ‘don’t do it again …!’).  I think form can be so essential to a poem that it actually drives the content and can become an ‘out of body’ experience – the form auto-writing the poem almost.  I enjoy both writing and reading in form as much as writing and reading free verse.

 

What advice would you give to a new poet, who is looking to be published?

Enjoy the writing.  The publication of your poetry is a possible bonus, enabling you to have a dialogue with a greater number of readers; the process of publication is enriching and thrilling.  However, it’s also important to bear in mind that there appears to be a larger number of poetry writers than readers in terms of books purchased … so don’t give up the day job.

 

And, finally. Which poem would you like to share with us?

My poem Butterflies from ‘The Quilted Multiverse’ – I wrote this before the recent death of Carla Lane, but I think this could be viewed as a kind of tribute to her.

 

Butterflies

 

I will not pull the wings off butterflies or feel their soft brush against my thighs

like the smallness of feathers or leaves alighting for nano-seconds in a rush of red

 

or purple emperors, painted ladies or silver-washed fritillaries on the day I discover

I am about yearning and I have turned slowly but steadily into a sit-com character

 

I vaguely remember called Ria who couldn’t cook and piled the dishes in layer after layer

between tablecloths on the breakfast table and no-one wondered why she silently

 

screamed and I find myself sitting on a park bench somewhere that could be anywhere

like Cheltenham or Eastbourne next to a man who might or might not be named Leonard

 

knowing there’s more to life than being a lepidopterist or a mother or a wife or a poet

knowing there’s something out there to be lunged for that may or may not be reached

 

can or can’t be caught but if held too tightly might just get squashed all over your hand.

 

 

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