Playing Dead The last time you saw me I was dead. Clowning with ghosts, up to no good in my head, where nothing goes wrong. Not out there, sick and lonely trying to make myself heard, trying to switch on this damn light clinging to the side. The world that wants me is in here, where the dead can live. Not out there, sick and lonely where eyes let me down, where you let me down never seeing past my smiles. The world that wants me is in here, where the dead can live. The trees know I’m there letting me lean on their posts, the birds know I’m there filling sadness with song. The dead know I’m there waiting to strangle your fun. Hindsight I didn’t get the main part in the audition. I couldn’t keep my balance like you did tapping in circles. I think it started then. I never reached the end of that final, but reared up after take-off, holding the pain in one scorched leg. This could have been a sign. I wasn’t lifting those legs to pedal hard, letting that hill roll higher than me. Was that it? I failed to reach those piano keys, hand spreading no further than a slice of bread. I couldn’t pick that up either. Sea Legs I saw them falling − two legs thrown from the cliff of medicine, one final sprint to chase the sea. I knew these waves − the rise and fall of a body only to drown far too early. They took my future, drenched my way forward, anchored me to this last race. Bloated and thrashed I lay on the sea bed, swallowing calls for help. Wolfpack Contributor: Julie Stevens A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Julie Stevens
with Julie Stevens:
Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?
Julie: I started writing seriously about 3 years ago. I showed 3 poems I’d written whilst at university years ago to a poet friend, who suggested taking up writing again. There’s no stopping me now. I remember having a real interest (still do) in Ted Hughes and Shakespeare in my teens.
Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?
Julie: My biggest influence today? So many to mention, but I absolutely love the work of Sylvia Plath, Simon Armitage, Seamus Heaney and many more.
Q3: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing? Q4:Have any travels away from home influence your work?
Julie: I grew up in a town called Harrogate in North Yorkshire, England. I had a real interest in theatre and think learning and reciting poems for many auditions helped influence my love of poetry.
I am always gaining ideas for poems on my travels. As a disabled person, I meet many obstacles that make the day more challenging or rewarding. I have recently written a poem about being free on a zip wire in Wales.
Q5: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?
Julie: Most of my poems give an insight into my disabled life with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). I am gaining so much enjoyment from writing and hearing how people relate to the poems and they are helping. My MS diagnosis has become a very positive thing.
Q6: Favorite activities to relax?
Julie: When I’m not writing I love getting outdoors and seeing a brilliant view. Nature always has a positive influence on me. I also enjoy meeting up with friends over a good cup of coffee!
Q7: Any recent or forthcoming projects that you’d like to promote?
Julie: I am currently fundraising for the MS Trust charity who have helped me so much over the years, particularly in funding MS nurses. All proceeds from my books sold go to this charity. Knowing I have written poems that are now helping fund the charity and through this am helping others with MS is an amazing thing. The Book Shop on my website: www.jumpingjulespoetry.com has links for my pamphlets Quicksand (Dreich 2020) and Balancing Act (Hedgehog Poetry Press 2021).
Q8: What is a favorite line/stanza from a poem of yours or others?
Julie: I have so many favourite poems I’ve written, but one of the lines I go back to and tell myself comes from my poem Bird: ‘Come now, ride with me, you won’t stumble in clouds,’ even when walking down the street!
Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?
Julie: There are many people who have helped me with my poems, providing feedback in poetry groups, or from more professional mentoring (Anna Saunders, Rebecca Goss), so I guess they’ve helped me improve the most.