Digital Writer’s Diaries: Meet The Maker’s first digital writer in residence, Sue Wallace-Shaddad
I have long thought about writing a blog but have never got round to it, so was delighted to be invited by Lauren Bilsborough and Kate Debling to write a regular blog for ‘The Maker’. I will be posting two blogs a month from September, one will be diary notes about what I am up to that month on the poetry scene and the other will reflect on a particular aspect of poetry. So let me introduce myself.
I have been writing poetry seriously for about fifteen years though I only devoted myself to it on retirement in 2014 after a long career with the British Council. Since then I have gained an MA in Writing Poetry from Newcastle University, spread over two years with the Poetry School London, which I thoroughly recommend. As I had not studied poetry in my youth (my first degree was French), I really felt I needed a better knowledge of poetic forms, the canon and contemporary poetry. Even after two years’ study I have clearly only scraped the surface! But I made good friends and learnt what to look out for both in my own poetry and in that of others. That has led me to writing poetry reviews which is a great way to read new poetry and keep the mind agile!
I have had one short collection published by Dempsey and Windle – ‘A City Waking Up’, poems about Khartoum, Sudan. I am married to a Sudanese academic and have been visiting the country for over forty years, so it seemed time to write about it. I have a daughter who lives in Cornwall and a son who lives in London, both working in the creative industries.
I am particularly interested in writing about art; I have a Scottish family background filled with artists. I am currently trying to find a publisher for my debut collection of poems about portraits of women artists and by women artists including those in my family. I sometimes describe what I do as painting with words. Here is an example of a recent poem in response to a portrait in a local historic mansion:
After ‘Mrs Fonnereau’ by Edward Seymour 1700s
A warm complexion,
hair dressed with lace.
Let there be pink,
the artist thinks.
He adds a rose,
symbol of grace,
picked on purpose
from her garden.
He paints it quickly,
before it starts to wilt,
caught in the trellis
of pale beaded pearls
climbing her breast.
between flower and face,
a flourish with zest.
I visit major and local exhibitions regularly. Some artists inspire several poems – Blake, Freud, Picasso, Emin, for example, so quite a mix! I have collaborated with artist Sula Rubens A.R.W.S. and also with photographer Simon Meddings.
I enjoy being part of several poetry communities and am a great believer in sharing experience and information (this is probably a legacy of my career promoting the UK’s language and culture, building connections with the UK). I have been Secretary of Suffolk Poetry Society for several years and am very involved in running poetry events in that county.
If you would like to contact me to comment or follow up, please send me an email via the contact box on my website: https://suewallaceshaddad.wordpress.com