What writing poetry means to me

For Mind member Julia, writing poetry has been a real support to her. Since completing an Open University short course in 2005, she has continued to write and perform poetry, been included in anthologies and magazines (including the Mind Membership magazine) and has now published her own poetry book.

Below Julia talks to the Mind Membership team about how she started, what it means to her and her advice for others who might want to try their hand at poetry. 

**Please be aware that some of Julia's poetry covers topics that some people may find triggering. This includes themes around domestic violence and child abuse**

How did you get in to poetry writing?

In January 2005 I left the partner that I had lived with for 2 years due to physical and emotional abuse and moved back in with my parents. After moving back home, I had a nervous breakdown, and I was very depressed and suicidal.

My GP put me on stronger antidepressants and suggested to me that I should sign up for a new course of study, to take my mind off my negative thoughts and give me something positive to focus on.

So I started a short online course on poetry writing at the Open univeristy. It was something that had always interested me since school, reading Shakespeare, Wilfred Owen and Roald Dahl. Six years later, I graduated with BA (hons) in English Language and Literature.

Why is poetry so important to you?

I enjoy writing poetry because I find it therapeutic; I have Bipolar disorder and writing helps me to deal with difficult feelings and to make sense of the world. To me writing is a way of: ‘Fighting back’ by ‘Writing back’.

How does it feel to have your poetry published?

To have my poetry published by Ragiel & Gill Press feels both wonderful and scary at the same time. It’s like the book is a closet and the poems are my skeletons; which I’ve kept hidden for most of my life. Writing the book ‘Order & Chaos: A Collection of Protest Poems’ has helped me to exorcise the demons of my past which include child abuse and domestic violence. And I’m hoping the book will empower others to do the same.

What is your advice to others who would like to try writing poetry?

My advice to others who want to write poetry are to: a) read a lot of poetry and books in general; b) do a short course in poetry if possible; c) practice writing poetry as often as you can; and d) a good book to buy with lots of helpful advice is: ‘How to be a Poet’ By Jo Bell.

What is your favourite poem or book and why?

It’s difficult for me to pinpoint my favourite book as I have many favourites; but the most recent poetry book which I own and love is ‘Sex & Love & Rock & Roll’ by Tony Walsh. I also love the poem that Tony Walsh did in reaction to the Manchester bombings in 2017 called ‘This is the Place’ as it’s a poem that celebrates all the best things about Manchester and its people.


To find out more about Bipolar disorder, you can read our online information here.

To find out more about depression, you can access our information here.

To find out more about suicidal feelings, you can access our information here.

If you have any questions about the above, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with membership on [email protected]

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