Book Review. Ache by Scarlett Ward.

‘a seashell in a car door’ i love little phrases like this that evoke nostalgia for me. Love is written about in a way that feels new in Ache. i liked the poems of being outside, like a breath of fresh air. i think Ache is a great debut collection of poetry from Scarlett Ward and i will need to read it once or twice more, to fully appreciate and take in the poems. The language is beautiful.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

i soon learned

that if you’ve got to hold one nostril

while you’re inhaling to breathe easy

then darling that’s not respiration

that’s recreation

and that shit will kill you

but just never as fast as you’d like

Ache Scarlett Ward

Scarlett Ward is an incredible young West Midlands poet as comfortable on the page as in performance, with a real ear for language and an imagination to match. Her debut collection, created with help and advice from Liz Berry and others, doesn’t disappoint, as it takes its Insta-concerns (Scarlett has 10k+ followers) of depression, insecurity, mental ill-health and the deep and powerful ache of a love found, and turns them in to quite startling poetry -at times as light as petals, at others as heavy and violent as a hob nail boot. Read, gasp, enjoy.

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Travelling with Anxiety

Do you ever do something and think afterwards how the f**k did I do that? IF ONLY IT COULD BE BOTTLED, THAT COURAGE.

I am talking about traveling with anxiety.

I have suffered with anxiety my whole life. It has limited my life to the extent I don’t go out, and if I do it’s after dark and to the supermarket to stock up on pasta and ice cream.

I have a partner I have been with for a few years. We did attempt to go out as a couple to restaurants and the like, but quickly had to knock that on the head because my anxiety did not make the experience at all fun. Then shit happened and going out at all became impossible.

But.

That said, we have gone on holidays abroad. This is the point I think HOW?

Going on holiday is stressful, if like me you have agoraphobia and anxiety. For my partner it is enjoyable. Yes. Enjoyable. What a strange old word. Let’s break it down.

Travelling with Anxiety


Writing a list. A travel inventory. Nothing must be forgotten. Shades, toiletries – are they in a clear bag and to the measurements required, pads – you never know I might start my period, notebook, books, flip flops, charger – spare charger, snacks, magazine, toilet rolls, an outfit for my hand luggage – in case I puke over myself on the plane (keeping it classy) blanket, towel, sweeteners – am I the only person who feels bad when someone on the plane has forgotten their sweeteners and the cabin crew don’t have any, raincoat, tickets, printout of travel/hotel info, wipes, soap, money – in all currencies, tissues, water bottle.

Yes, this stuff can be bought in Spain or Germany or wherever. Yes, it is ok to forget something. TELL THAT TO MY BRAIN.

Packing the suitcase. Have to remember carrier bags, day outfits, socks, underwear, night outfits, evening outfits, pyjamas, loungewear, OH MY GOD THE SUITCASE ISN’T ZIPPING SHUT.

Traveling to the airport. That involves a train into London, an overnight stay in a hotel, worrying about dinner, and breakfast, trying to sleep in a bed that is not my own, what if my alarm doesn’t ring and we miss our flight, what if I don’t have time for a shower – I don’t want people to think I stink, setting the alarm 8 times so it goes off in the lift, and in the taxi on the way to the airport AND NOT BEING ABLE TO TURN IT OFF, worrying I may have left something in the hotel when I leave – I DIDN’T UNPACK ANYTHING.

The airport. Oh the airport. Trying to navigate the way into the airport, onto the shuttle, finding the toilets, waving off our suitcases, trying to hydrate and simultaneously trying to finish the bottle of water before we go through security, finding another toilet, queue at security, sweating because – you never know – I might get arrested, wondering if you will ever see your hand luggage again when you have relinquished it, the waiting, the delays, wandering through endless cold corridors – which always make me think of the time corridors in Doctor Who – my partner gets thoroughly annoyed every time I mention it,

all this while trying to rearrange my face to appear ‘normal’ while inside I am losing my shit, having no idea what to do with my hands, trying to not get stomped on by people in a bigger rush to get this done with than me,

then asking myself if my face has changed from my passport photo and they won’t let me on the plane, more waiting, waiting, getting onto those stairs to the plane – they frighten me – I don’t like heights, knowing as someone with a large chest someone is going to elbow my boobs, or going to get them in their head or back, and how on earth you get comfortable in a plane seat I do not know. As soon as I am sat in my seat I want to leave. There is no personal space, my knees are in jeopardy, and I immediately get a headache as soon as the plane takes off. 

You think at this point I would have a chance to breathe, but no. I am counting down the minutes until the plane gets back onto solid ground. I’m not quiet about this either.

Being in a foreign country unsettles me. It’s because home is a bit too far away for comfort.

Queuing for the toilet, queuing, more queuing, and finding our suitcases. Is there no better way? Maybe it is just me, but how do I pull my suitcase off that thing without me landing on my backside.

I don’t know why, but we get a coach transfer to our hotel. It is a new kind of hell. Waiting for everyone to get onto the coach, onto the right coach, the relinquishing of luggage again as it goes in the boot, I worry about all of the kids running around, I worry about how the rest of the day is going to pan out now we are actually HERE.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

It takes me 2 days to recover. So why do I do it to myself?

Because my anxiety is limiting, it also limits my partner’s life. I’m not going to tell him we can’t go on holiday, because there’s already a lot we don’t do because of my anxiety.

It’s like a bruise. Curiosity makes me keep prodding it. Travel is exciting. I like the idea of it. I like experiencing new places. New foods and new people not so much. Anxiety inducing.  The holiday we had last year was relatively less stressful, which I think means I may be getting used to it. Also the airport was trying a new way of easing queues and getting people onto their flights quicker. That worked like a dream.

It’s a privilege to travel as well, my family could never afford to take me and my two siblings abroad. I think my parents probably had enough of taking us to stay in a caravan for a week. The memories I have of that are being in a stuffy car, ants and endless walking. I still had anxiety then. I will forever dislike piers. How can walking along slats of wood across the sea ever be fun? I used to have nightmares about falling into the sea. It doesn’t take a lot to fuel my imagination.

Photo by Marianna on Pexels.com

Thanks for reading!

https://ko-fi.com/klpoetry

Shiny new books & opportunities

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Hello. Hope you are ok.

Fiona Thomas’s new book is out in ebook format. Fiona is such a help when it comes to being A Freelance Writer and I’m looking forward to reading her new book. The Paperback is out in October. Get pre-ordering!

Writer hq have rounded up a bundle of writing opportunities and competitions.

I have also been reading Ache by Scarlett Ward. I have waited to read this for ages. The publisher Verve Poetry Press is still open for manuscripts and pamphlets until Midnight today. Get submitting!

Don’t forget Fly on the Wall Poetry press’ new issue comes out July 1st and my poem is included it. Download at this link here.


Pre-orders help the publisher gauge interest and get the book buzz before publication!


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Journal Entry on getting organized

Hello. Hope you are ok.

I like to kid on I’m organised. I’m actually not – my Dropbox is a mess, my notes on my phone are filled with ideas I keep telling myself to write on paper, my laptop has duplicated every single file so it’s a trip finding which Word doc. I am working on and my to do list is seemingly even longer by the time I get to Friday than it was on Sunday evening.

I become overwhelmed very quickly and procrastination sets in. My need for perfectionism gets me into a funk as well. When I am feeling depressed, the least I feel like doing is getting organised before I can even get to a project I am working on. It’s like my cleaning mantra, if I stuff everything into a cupboard it’s there, it’s fine, it’s out of sight. When in reality it has made a mountain out of a molehill.

I started using Microsoft’s To Do app a few weeks ago and it’s been a useful tool. As long as I don’t look at how much I need to do and focus on one task, I’m good. How easy is it to not look at all the tasks and flip the fuck out? Not very easy. I have split my tasks into categories of my writing, my freelance writing, my blog, social media posts – and that’s a lot.

My problem is I want it all and I want it now. That is, of course, detrimental to the quality of the work I am producing. I am trying to learn it’s good to brainstorm, plan, edit, and make something the best it can be. There is no rush or timeline. I must remember to enjoy what I am doing and slow the fuck down.

I think as well not being very confident I churn out all sorts, so I can get that kick from producing and feeling I’m doing something. Giving that appearance of being busy. I do think as a once ‘good girl’ my worth is tied into grades – into results and with depression, people always thought it was laziness. That’s what people thought I was. Lazy Kate. I put myself under so much pressure when I was 17/18. It was stressful. As hard as I tried, people still didn’t like what I was doing, or not doing in their eyes. I couldn’t change their perception of me. It made me deny I was depressed. I thought I was lazy. I thought it was my fault. This is me being a lazy bitch and it’s not illness, it’s laziness. That fucked me up for years. It’s amazing on the outside what mental illness ’looks like’ to people. I was a typical teenager – ‘difficult’ ‘insolent’ ‘lazy’ I was fucking depressed. I walked around, feeling like shit and hating everyone, the world, myself. The majority of my classmates and teachers took the mickey. I’m sure it must have been hilarious on the outside looking in. A socially isolated, struggling with puberty, and depression, self-harming young girl who was desperately looking for a connection and understanding. She never got it, so she ended up in a toxic relationship that nearly killed her.

That’s enough for now. Thanks for reading. Let me know how you get organised. Also how are you finding this new editor?

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