An Interview with Jennie Osborne – Three Devon Poets – 10/10
If you enjoy writing poetry, but are struggling to find a topic to write about – look outside. Just look through the window at your garden. Thats what Jennie Osborne did as a child when she wrote ‘Ghosts of the Field’ about vegetables in the frost’. This sounds like a remarkably sophisticated topic for a child to start with.
Her most recent publication is called ‘Colouring outside the lines’ and published by Oversteps Books and follows up her 2010 publication ‘How to be Naked’. She has been described as ‘lyrical and poised’ as well as ‘highly original’ and having poems full of ‘tenderness’ that are ‘beautifully composed’.
Ghosts of the Field was something that has made Jennie ‘love poetry all [her] life’. However it was ‘sidelined by work during [her] 20s’. This is an all too common problem, our only advice would be to bring a friend to an Exeter Poetry Festival event to rekindle any lost love for poetry.
It’s not always necessary to look out of the window for inspiration as Jennie says that ‘inspiration can come from anywhere – from my reading, from art and music, the landscape, and then it sparks with something internal that needs to be said’.
Perhaps to gain the most from her inspiration Jennie prefers to write her ‘first drafts almost always out of the house’. Her creative approach means that she ‘can’t write from notes’, but does ‘write in bursts’ of productivity. ‘The poem comes out whole and then honed, chopped, reordered as necessary’ with other poets at workshops as sounding boards and ideas.
As Jennie takes her inspiration from a wide range of sources it’s not surprising that her poetry is varied. She writes ‘both in form and free verse’ so ‘some lends itself to performance’. The sound of a poem isn’t just important to Jennie, it’s ‘vital’. ‘I hear it in my head as I write’.
The poem gains it’s form and ‘shape during drafting’ where it may take ‘a variety of voices’.
Jennie thinks that poetry is set apart by the way it ‘gets below the surface’ it also ‘tells us about what it is to be human in this complicated world’. Poetry is a means on understanding and escaping.
For any students who are aspiring to write more poetry Jennie suggests reading ‘contemporary poetry’ and ‘as much as you can get your hands on’.
As well as reading for enjoyment, ‘notice what turns you on, or off, in a poem, and think about why. You should also explore poetry by going ‘to readings, going to workshops’. Perhaps the most useful tip is to ‘develop a very think skin!’
Article by Alexander Zawalnyski
Interview by Madeleine Sharma