I’m beyond thrilled that my debut poetry pamphlet, Bella, was nominated for a Saboteur Award for Best Poetry Pamphlet!

A huge thank you to everyone who nominated her (and me!) – this is definitely not something I could ever have seen happening, and certainly not something that would have happened without the support and love people have shown my little pamphlet. I just wanted to write a little on my thoughts following this fantastic news.

I was fairly new to writing poetry (I began in my first year of my BA) when I started writing the manuscript that was to become Bella (as my third year dissertation project). I had always planned to write about Bella and the Wych Elm in prose, as a novel or short story, but since beginning I knew that, for me, the story couldn’t have been told in any genre but poetry. Poetry has the intensity of language, resilience of form, and depths of possibility needed if I was to try and put into words the strangeness and mystery of Bella’s tale.

It seems to have made as much sense to readers as it did to me. In her review of Bella in Under the Radar Issue 22, Deborah Tyler-Bennett writes how the story of Bella and the Wych Elm is ‘a gift for a writer. Maybe for a novelist or short story writer? For a poet, taking Bella on appears to have been a brave move”. She nevertheless found the poetry to capture everything I had hoped it would, commenting that ‘their lyrical nature sings within every line”. After hearing poems from Bella read aloud, audience members have told me how the poetic ‘snapshots’, using familiar folklore from our collective consciousness, has balanced the stuffy fact-finding of forensic science and made the story accessible and enjoyable.

I’m not trying to blow my own trumpet here, but blow Bella‘s. I wrote the poems, sure, but I truly feel they’ve taken on a life of their own since their publication sent them out into the world. Bella is an endlessly fascinating figure, and the region an endlessly enchanting place to live and write about. The nominations and votes for Bella show me that you feel the same. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. My fingers are crossed for the awards ceremony on Saturday! But even if Bella doesn’t snatch the crown, she’s my queen nevertheless, and I’m honoured by the love she’s been shown.

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