Pull 3 72-2In my ninth interview for In the Booklight, I talk to Jenna Plewes about her poetry collection Pull of the Earth from Indigo Dreams Publishing…

Could you say a little about how the title ‘Pull of the Earth’ (a wonderful line from one of the poems in the book) and the whole collection came into being?

My first collection was inspired by living by the sea, walking each day to an isolated beach and standing in the surf in all weathers. Words and phrases would come as I walked back up the valley. That was the pull of the sea – although the book was called “Salt’.

This time I was thinking of the ‘Pull of the Earth’. I wanted to celebrate all the places we’ve trekked or we’ve lived abroad, the memories we’ve brought back – the honeycomb poems – The second half of the book celebrates the small insignificant things trapped in the amber of memory that shine with a special light.

The natural world seems to flow through many of these poems. How and where do you find inspiration?

I guess I have answered that question. It’s a soul thing. I am at my happiest in the quiet places of the world, mountains, oceans, moorland. The poetry of Keats, John Clare, Robert Frost, Mary Oliver, Gerard Manley Hopkins are just a few of the lyric poets I savour and whose way with words have inspired me.

Travel and exotic places also feature a lot in the collection, and very beguilingly. Are these poems based on first-hand experience, research or a mixture of the two? And, when writing, what is the general balance for you between researching a topic of interest and writing directly from personal experience?

I have a visual memory. I can still picture the places we’ve visited very clearly and can conjure up the feelings too. It’s a very subjective picture and even going back to photographs somehow deadens it. I work intuitively and I allow myself ‘poetic license.’ I do research sometimes to get my facts right. I have just written a poem about tightrope walking and needed to understand the mechanics. The last poem in the book is about space and I did a lot of reading around the subject.

2011 007A sense of age, time and history also seems to underpin or float behind many of these poems – is that something that you incorporate consciously into your work?

Because I am now past the middle of my life there is a sense of looking back, of consolidating things. There is also more time to write now I’m retired and my children are grown-up. I used to write as a teenager, then work and family channeled my creativity in a different direction. It is great to feel I have come full circle. My poetry is also underpinned by all the dilemmas, struggles and triumphs I’ve witnessed and shared as a psychotherapist. I often see metaphors in the natural world and use them as a link to a human experience.

I’ve used ‘flow’ already in one of my questions, and I think these poems are also full of ‘lightness’ – be that actual light, uplifting description, revealing the everyday’s remarkable beauty or the music in the lines. The poems also brim with wonderful images. I’m wondering which of all these elements is most important to you as a poet, and why?

Light comes into so many poems now you mention it. Light equals hope, happiness sometimes, mood, the fundamental goodness of the world and of people. I guess I’m an incurable optimist.
I read my poems aloud as I write them and the music of the words is really important. I love to find fresh images to describe things. That’s really satisfying. I have always loved finding unusual words.

What question might I have overlooked so far in considering the pull of this collection?

The book is structured as a series of postcards from abroad in the first half. The second half is about the return home to the everyday familiarity. It has a progression that works I believe.
I am now working on a collection of poems about relationships, the pull of our feelings about each other.

Pull 3 72-2Where can people get hold of a copy of ‘Pull of the Earth’?

The book is available from Indigo Dreams Publishing’s website. You will find it in their ‘shop’ It is also available from my website jennaplewes.com click on the link, contact. Price £8.99, £1.20 postage.

Thank you, Jenna, for sharing these insights into your collection and the writing process.

To read more In the Booklight interviews with authors, please click on this link.