old head on young shoulders
in all but years
i was so much younger
than i appeared to be –
oft repeated an old head on young shoulders –
i did not understand the expectations placed upon me
based on people’s perceptions of my maturity.
Who else can relate to this? i used to think I was so smart growing up and superior to those my own age because I was apparently an old head on young shoulders. This was while I was completely confused by children my own age because I did not understand them or was unable to relate to them. My social skills were awful! Being naturally shy and anxious too I was terrified of being the centre of attention.
25 years anxious. I probably came out of the womb anxious. Where does that come from? You learn to be anxious, don’t you? You worry and worries become anxiety if something isn’t explained to you or you are unable to articulate worries so someone can help you navigate the thing safely.
I think my mum was very nervous about letting us children out to play and my parents are both not overly social. There were not many people that came into the family bubble. I don’t think things were explained to me. I think that’s the thing with anxiety. Anxiety is like an extra special app on your phone. It is difficult to explain it, when you think what is going on in your mind is normal. I knew there were kids in my class who could do bits that I couldn’t. They oozed confidence. I was aware I was quiet and shy and I was aware this was a problem because on all my school reports teachers remarked ‘she needs to talk more in class!’ I did think being shy was a disease. I hated it. I wondered how I could get rid of it. This shyness I needed to accept as part of my character, and I needed help with my anxiety, which was a separate component. I do think that’s how I become depressed as a teenager, because I had no close friendships or relationships. I was a solitary person. Who was smart but confused by so much. And so much could have easily been fast-tracked into being ‘normalised’ if I had someone to talk to about it.
When I was a kid, I had some worries. The dentist and toothache, films coming to an end, nits, having no friends, being first in the queue to go to assembly in school because I didn’t want to lead the line, kids being sick in class and I didn’t want to be the next to catch it and vomit in class, party games and not wanting a turn because I didn’t want the focus to be on me – ditto with my own birthday and blowing out candles on the cake, asking permission to go to the toilet in class, getting a non-speaking part in the Christmas play. Bloody hell, I must have been a bag of nerves!
walk out –
walk around town –
hood up &head bowed –
feeling so low today –
the canal is temptation –
stick to the towpaths –
everything has remained the same –
even after rain –
the paths are slick – wet – sludge
and the gate metal – slips – against my palm –
the branches of the trees – droop – lower – and glisten –
will the changes happen – take place –
a habit more than anything –
following the paths that i am so familiar with –
finding trees older than i –
creatures more wild than i –
the ghostly shapes of playground apparatus –
shrouded in an evening fog beginning to gather –
assurances of earth and nature –
i need before returning
to locked doors, enforced silence and conformity.
This poem was written when I was 17/18 years old and edited now as a 25 year old. I wrote many poems then that were similar to this. I did not have a focus at that age. School and depression had left me vulnerable. I wandered and used the toilets in supermarkets and ate in McDonalds and wrote poetry. I was suicidal. It felt as if the pressure of school had left me and not having the routine of school also left me – at a loose end. I was still isolated too, but not being in school and having gotten used to it, that didn’t bother me too much. I was self-sufficient. I eventually joined college and got into a romantic relationship that I shouldn’t have, because it was toxic. The relationship smashed the barriers of protection I had built around myself. There will be more poems on that.
Verve Poetry Press are accepting collection and pamphlet manuscripts from Sunday the 17th of May until Saturday on the 20th of June. There is no fee.
Wild Pressed Books are open for pamphlet length manuscripts of prose or poetry until the 30th of June. They do ask for you to purchase one of their titles before sending your work.
Broken Sleep Books are looking for full length poetry collections. There is no fee.
Platypus Press’ The Broken River Prize is an annual poetry book contest. The Closing Date is July 31st. There is no fee.
Marble poetry. Poetry pamphlets.
Nightingale and Sparrow. Full length manuscripts. Closes on the 17th of May.
The majority of these publishers do not have a reading fee, which is cool but if you can buy one of their books, it helps. Independent publishers do not get the backing that larger one’s do and book sales are important for them to move forward.
I think poetry and books make the world go round, so I don’t need much prompting in purchasing new reading material.
1, Tell us a little about your new book changing with the tides, and the inspiration behind it?
changing with the tides is my newest poetry book, inspired by my own journey and experience with anxiety and insecurity. It’s broken into two parts, the anchor and the sail, to depict the things that have held me down in the past and how I’ve overcome them.
2, changing with the tides is your second book, it starts like this was your debut. You chose to self-publish both books. What were the reasons behind this decision?
I put together my first book after I wrote a poem a day for a year on my blog, and readers encouraged me to self-publish. It wasn’t something I had ever considered, but once I researched it, I decided it was a good fit for me. I think self-publishing is an amazing path for writers to consider. While I would love to go the traditional publishing route one day, self-publishing has allowed me to be in control of the process and learn a lot about writing books along the way.
3, What have been some of the positives, and some of the negatives, you have experienced with self-publishing?
There are definitely both pros and cons to self-publishing! I like that I am in control of how my book turns out. I can follow my own timeline and work with an artist to create the cover I have in my mind. At the same time, when you self-publish, you do it all on your own. Of course you can hire outside editors and designers to help, but you have to pay out of pocket for those services. Additionally, you have to do the marketing on your own, and you won’t have as wide of distribution when you self-publish.
4, How do you feel that your writing has developed, and changed, between the writing of it starts like this and changing with the tides?
I’d like to think there’s a big difference between my first and second book, in terms of both my writing and my personal growth. This new book is a lot more honest and vulnerable, so even if there isn’t a big difference in my writing style, I think I’ve grown a lot in my ability to share more personal details. In terms of publishing itself, I’ve also learned a lot. My first book is a collection of favorite poems from my year-long writing challenge, whereas the poems in my second collection were written specifically to tell a story.
5, Which period of your life do you find you write about most often? (child, teenager, young adult)
My first book is about my teenage years because I was 19 when I published it. Now, I write mostly about my young adult life so far, with the occasional childhood/teenage poem thrown in there too!
6, What did you edit out of changing with the tides?
There were about 20 poems eliminated from the collection in total. These were either poems that I felt weren’t strong enough, didn’t fit well into the narrative, or poems I wasn’t yet ready to share. I also had 4 beta-readers who gave me feedback and helped me decide which poems I needed to keep and remove.
7, How many hours a day do you write?
Sometimes zero, sometimes a few! I can go weeks without writing, or I can write every day for months. Even if I’m not feeling particularly motivated, I try to write at least a little each day, but sometimes it just doesn’t happen (and that’s okay!)
8, Which other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you, in terms of feedback and marketing?
I am so fortunate to have many friends in the writing community who inspire me and help me. My beta readers included Amanda Linsmeier, Marya Layth, Adelle Woods, and Sasha Temerte– all wonderful poets themselves! Cheyenne Raine was a huge help with my website. So grateful for these poets and many, many others!
9, What is your writing Kryptonite?
Experimenting with new styles and formats can be hard because I’ve gotten comfortable with the same writing style for a while now. I definitely challenged myself in my new book to experiment and get out of my comfort zone, which I’m proud of.
10, Who designed the covers of your books, and how much input did you have with their design?
Islam Farid designed the cover for changing with the tides and is a very talented artist. He came up with the initial idea and I provided feedback so we could create something we both loved.