It is September. I’m in that ‘doing too much, not doing enough’ frame of mind.

It’s been a lovely poetry year so far though. I went on a pretty fantastic poetry holiday to Allmersera Vella near Allicante, where I learned all sorts of amazing things from the great Mimi Khalvati. I can seriously say that I have never simultaneously both taken poetry as seriously and not seriously. I’m not even sure that last sentence makes sense – but I did laugh and cry.


My pamphlet “The Swell” came to see me fully formed from the printers. It looks beautiful. The cover is just wonderful. The Telltale Press cover designer is Hannah Clare – she is super talented. The Pamphlet is edited by Robin Houghton and Sarah Barnsley from Telltale Press – big thanks to them. The Launch is going to be in Tunbridge Wells on October 5th. Let me know if you’d like to come.

A new kind of poetry publisher…


I had poems published in High Window, Tears in the Fence and Obsessed with Pipework and one just accepted in the South. I’m really pleased that my poem about the Tudely Church near Five Oak Green (near Tonbridge) got accepted. It is one of my earlier poems and I liked it at the time then lost faith – thinking it too narrative and possibly  sentimental. It is about the young woman, Sarah, depicted in Chagall’s windows in All Saint’s Church. It is also about Sarah’s mother – and grief.


I have also won my first poetry competition. The Paragrammer Paradox poetry prize! The judge was Claire Dyer – must have been a tough job, and I’m really pleased she picked my poem “Beast” from a strong field of poems.

Paragram Paradox Prize – The Winners

I’m also going to be at the Free Verse London Poetry Book Fair on the 17th September. I’m going with Seig Babar, Sarah Barnsley and Peter Kenny – The Telltale Poetry Book Cru. We are also going to be reading in the evening – so come watch us.

I’m also putting the final touches together to my first full collection – working title is “Darshan”. More of this – later!

Meanwhile… I’m hanging out with my poetry chums as well as progressing a very exciting Ekphrastic artist/photographer/poet collaboration with some rather groovy people. More of this – Later!

So now we are properly back to school!

Hectic Subculture


What does it all mean? I think it means consumptive, the agitation felt by illness. We think it means busy or active. The word is flushed with a persistent fever.

I have been hectic. Britain has been hectic. We have become disordered. We have Brexit-ed.

Broken it.

Leave or Remain? There could never be a nuanced argument over yes or no. Normal distributions – the standard deviations on the normal curve – that take into account the maths of the middle, have been chopped. We are chopped down the middle.


Have you been forcibly radicalised by a Brefferendum? I’m not surprised we felt ill, hectic and unable to function. As people posted – get over it, it’s done now, triumphalism and fear all poured out. I looked for people with union jack flags on their face book profiles. I wanted to know why they felt so strongly about something I barely noticed.

“Do you really hate ALL muslims?” I asked one man – as he posted me a picture of him and a pretty young black woman “see I’m no racist” he told me. I never said he was. Bruv.

As I slid through twelve emotions a day and felt hectic and on high alert, I watched the ‘Roman Empire’ crumble. I learned an Indian company owns Jaguar/ Range Rover – did you know that? I considered moving to Canada.

As the thunder, lightning and rain poured down that night I felt strangely exhilarated. I felt I was in the middle of history. I called a friend and suggested we go and listen to Slavoj Zizek talk at the South Bank and catch the end of the “Stay” March.

Radical Subculture

Zizek talks about masks. We all know everyone is corrupt – we are never surprised they are lying to us. That a big red bus went round telling us £350 million would be pumped from Europe to the NHS, we shrug – well – what do you expect? And we shrug and say – that’s reality. So we buy into that being democracy – because it keeps the electricity on and trains running. And when the mask comes off? When people stop being polite? Perhaps then we can talk. Should we have a proper fight about some raw emotions and explode a few taboos?

I have never thought the death penalty was the way to go. If we had a referendum on it I wonder what would happen. I have only ever once considered the death penalty as an option – and then only for a few hours. It was in 2007 when a young gothic emo girl called Sophie Lancaster was brutally murdered by some thick kids, kicked to death just for dressing differently.

This feeling affected me so deeply –  as for a few hours I was radicalised and I wanted the killers dead. When I returned to a more ‘reasonable’ state of mind – I was deeply troubled by myself. I knew hate was no answer or no justice. Clearly Poet – Simon Armitage was able to dissect my feelings – in his beautiful play and book “Black Roses: Killing of Sophie Lancaster”.



That is why we need Poets in these hectic times. 

Being OK


Bloody Yoda

I have a PGCE, a teacher training qualification. It was unexpectedly really hard. I scraped through though. It was a couple of years ago now but I won’t forget my tutor, he was Canadian, a buddhist doctor and told me

“you could be very good, but do you really need to be?”

What did he mean by THAT? He was known for his Yoda like pronouncements. He also said I was “All spicy meat but no rice” … EXCUSE ME?

Suddenly the trippy-ness of learning to teach revealed itself to me, delighted I said to him,

“its like I’m learning to get what is in your head into my head so I can get it into someone else’s head” (maaan)

He looked at me sagely, “you got it sister… now tell everyone”.

Thinking back the conversation sounds like a couple of pot head students at a party, but I assure you it was quite a revelation.

You can just tell people things, but do they take it in? Have I been seduced by the spice and sparkle but failed to receive the staple to feel really satisfied?

I’m thinking about that today. I had a conversation with some poet friends about whether poetry should be easy to access or was it OK for it to be difficult? The conversation with my Yoda Teacher came to mind. However spicy or meaty, put some rice, potatoes or bread with it. Don’t let your poetry float off into the ether. Also – don’t serve stodge, however comforting it is… too much is not good for you. And then I thought back to his words…

“you could be very good, but do you really need to be?” In fact – his sentence finished …

“perhaps just being OK is … OK?” and he looked me right in the eyes as he said that.

Hmmm bloody Yoda. Anyway … I scraped a pass… that showed him!

Here Is a Useful Link:

This is Prac Crit. It is an excellent Blog Site to learn to sharpen your close reading skills.

Edition Six

and here is a poem… about being OK.



Jupiter has undone me
with his love of chaos,
horologists will decapitate, rip up clocks
into a conjunction of tatters.
I stood with my blood at the meridian,
watching light bounce from Thames to tea clipper.
At the last transit a leaf fell
into my hand, in a tight spiral.
On that spot I watched it twist
in night gusts
yearning for soil.
Have I turned this life
after the chaos? I moved from post-code to
post-code, my make up too heavy
like Jupiter.  I bulldozed
everything out of my path,
before resting to colder
positions, paying tax, taking more baths,
learning to drive, taking out Insurance.

Jessica Mookherjee: My Poetry Blog

Jessica Mookherjee: My Poetry Blog

Snapshot: Jessica Mookherjee

There is photographic evidence 
of the exact time she shifted her gaze,
when her eyes went out of focus.
The pictures show me growing bigger,
in pigtails, often alone,
a snap of a girl with her hand on her mother’s
shoulder, like a Victorian husband.
I passed on my birthright to all those unborn
boys, soothed her worried forehead,
cut out coupons in newspapers for amulets,
put them in father’s hand- so he could keep
us safe. Stood behind my mother as she prayed
at the front door, led her to the kitchen,
made sure she looked at the babies
there is evidence of her holding them,
keeping them close, 
there is no photograph of me
climbing stairs two at a time, 
no evidence that I tried not
to slip and break my neck.

Where to Start?

And the best place is the beginning. Take a deep breath and put some words down on some white space. Go on. Breathe and go on.

I started… I started in faltering steps when I was 19 years old- crazed and full of muse, I sent off a whole book of terrible ramble to Jonathan Cape, who wrote back kindly and gave me advice I never followed.

Somehow I stopped writing, but never – thank Sappho – stopped reading. I started performing poetry at local spoken word SLAMs and twenty five years after my first attempt  got my first poem  published, and then another and then another.

I started working with Susan Wicks, who taught me bravery and discipline, I was selected for a  masterclass with Gillian Clarke and Carol Ann Duffy at Ty Newyedd, I looked for teachers like Ros Barbar and Mimi Khalvati. I bothered poets for their love… gave it, they returned it.

Where Now?

I was shortlisted for the FairAcre first pamphlet  competition this year – in 2016. Close but no cigar. The winner was extraordinary.

I was lucky,  in April I was asked to join TellTale Poet’s Collective. I had eyed TellTale Press hungrily for a year, hoping to attract their attention. They are my kind of people. A poet’s collective, as advocated by Carol Ann Duffy herself. “do it yourself,” she told me, “the indie press, it’s punk, it’s rock and roll and it’s the future”. Well why not? The poets are shining, talented and respected and finally – they asked me to dance. So happy.

Happy to be a TellTale Poet, and a pamphlet – “The Swell” out in October.

A new kind of poetry publisher…

Where can you find me?

Agenda, Interpreter’s House, Ink Sweat and Tears, Obsessed With Pipework, Brittle Star, Lampeter Review, Prole, Paper Swans Anthology: Chronicles of Eve, The Journal, Lunar, Gold Dust, Clear Poetry, The Poetry Shed, Black Light Engine Room, Antiphon, Amaryllis.





More poems!

What Helps?

To understand modern poetry – 

This is quite good: http://www.modernpoetry.org.uk

To know where to look for magazines and competitions – 

Try this: http://www.poetrykit.org

And I am…

A poet from Kent. I lived in London for 25 years. My childhood was spent in Mumbles, Wales and the place still exerts a pull on me. My heritage is Bengali. I have a background in Biological Anthropology and currently work in Public Health.

Too extraverted to be a poet…

Look for stanza groups… I’m in the Kent and Sussex Poetry society, I’ve been in various writing groups, always strive to be around people who you think are better poets than you (they might not really be – but it helps if you think so). Find good teachers – they are out there. Read and start or join a poetry reading group. I have helped out in two local arts and literature festivals and that is great fun. I have started and been part of a number of local collaborative projects.