Poets and their Poetry; Maggie Sawkins

Report by Lisa Nightingale

maggiesawkins

Maggie’s writing took off after attending a workshop on the theme of sound with the Poet John Burnside in Portsmouth. Originally she was at a loss. Knowing that she wanted to write something, she asked herself a challenging question (where does sound go to when it’s not there) which helped her to look at the subject from a new angle.

Maggie quoted the poet Charles Simic: ‘Poems are the translation of silence’. It was this that inspired her to write the poem that won the Winchester Writers’ Poetry Competition in 1998. It reminded her of returning home from school to find that whatever had been causing her parents constant rowing had been overcome – they’d made up and what ensued was silence. Maggie chose to interpret that silence in the prize winning poem, ‘The Birds’.

Maggie quotes and reads the work of other poets taking inspiration from them and asking questions of her own understanding of them and reworking them from challenging angles.

zonesofavoidanceThe arena of addiction provides a wide range of material for a writer. But it is the drama triangle that interests Maggie. She knew that she wanted to write a long poem sequence and became interested in the ‘walls’ that we and our society use as coping mechanisms. During her research she found that the biggest wall of all is in the Milky Way near the Zone of Avoidance.

The Zone Of Avoidance
The Zone Of Avoidance

Maggie takes pride in writing all types of poetry. She wrote ‘Hooked’ in the form of a pantoum in which the lines are repeated. Her starting point was the emotion of grief personified as an animal – in this case, a dog. ‘You curl up with me when I lie down/I vow each time not to feed/I should lock you out/but you’re too far in.’

She spends much time crafting her work and making every word count and advises that using a working title is a good idea as the overall title is so important.

Experience, publication and attendance at workshops have all attributed to her work evolving. ‘Maybe you grow into your voice,’ she muses. ‘Looking back, the preoccupations stay the same but the voice has changed.’

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