“one of Britain’s most dynamic and powerful young poets” (Arvon Foundation).
I am a poet with a wide range of publications, including two Bloodaxe collections.
I have a national reputation as a dynamic and engaging performer.
I have extensive experience of teaching, training and workshop facilitation.
I have worked in a range of settings including schools, prisons, secure and community mental health services.
In 2006, my first poetry collection was published with Bloodaxe. In the same year, I launched a user-led self-harm training organisation. I continue to work on a freelance basis as a mental health adviser, trainer and consultant.
Poetry and mental health might seem like very separate careers. They aren’t. Where they meet is in my passion for language; a passion rooted in my own experiences of lacking the right words to describe who I was, what my life was like, and what I needed. As a young person growing up in difficult circumstances, I found a means of expression in self-injury and other difficult behaviours. Later in life, I discovered how I could make language work for me; as a means of expression and communication, a way of walking in other people’s shoes, learning about – and changing - myself and the world around me.
As a mental health trainer, I don’t just present people with facts. I create a space where people share ideas and knowledge, create connections, recognise similarities and differences, erode assumptions and allow new knowledge and insight to develop in dialogue. This process is at its most powerful in creative writing; that’s why I write, and read; and work hard to get other people reading and writing too.
I'm a popular performer of my own work; and I've performed alongside poets including Carol Ann Duffy, Roy Fisher, Liz Lochead, Lemn Sissay, George Szirtes, Daljit Nagra, Claire Pollard, Brian Patten and Jackie Kay. My work has been anthologised (Faber 2004, 2007, 2012); published in several national journals and newspapers including the Guardian and the Daily Mirror; and has attracted awards including a ‘Forward Prize Highly Commended (2006). My prose is anthologised in the "Some Girls' Mothers" collection published by Route in 2008: you can see me performing from this collection here. On the Open University website, you can hear me performing from "Straight Ahead" and talking about my work as a self-harm trainer.
In "Straight Ahead" (Bloodaxe 2006), my first poetry collection - the poems "are by turn harsh and tender, humorous and bleak. Dynamic, dark, and exactingly detailed, they invite the reader – and listener - into a rich and complex world". "Head On" (Bloodaxe 2012) "turns an unflinching gaze into startlingly new territories .... this is a book which speaks in equal measures, in precise and uncompromising language, about love and tenderness; violence and brutality".
I am available for readings, workshops and other events ..... you can contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org for enquiries and bookings