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.

http://www.amaryllispoetry.co.uk/2016/01/a-poem-by-jessica-mookherjee.html

https://clearpoetry.wordpress.com/2016/04/18/jess-mookherjee-three-poems/

http://www.inksweatandtears.co.uk/pages/?p=9424

http://lampeter-review.com/issue-13/

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.

 

 

 

 

3 thoughts on “Jessica Mookherjee: My Poetry Blog

  1. Love this Jess and really looking forward to your pamphlet – do let us all know where we can buy it as soon as you can. I have very fond memories of fun and laughter with you at the Masterclass in Wales with Gillian Clarke and Maura Dooley – what a great group it was and what wonderful words came out of it…

    Like

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