Anna’s wonderful poem, The Dancing Lesson, appeared in the second edition of Poems in the Waiting Room (NZ) way back in Autumn 2009. And since I’ve given away the name of her poem then I shall reveal all! Fifi Colston has chosen The Dancing Lesson as her inspirational poem. So Fifi meet Anna and Anna hop over to The Artists and meet Fifi!
Anna Woodford lives in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. Her collection Birdhouse (Salt, 2010) was a winner of the international Crashaw Prize and included in a Guardian round-up of poetry books of the year. Her pamphlet Trailer (Five Leaves, 2007) was a Poetry Book Society Choice. And Party Piece (Smith/Doorstop, 2009) was a winner in the Book & Pamphlet Competition.
Anna has been published in a wide range of publications including the TLS, Poetry Review, the Rialto and Poetry London. She has received a major Leverhulme Award, an Eric Gregory Award, an Arvon/Jerwood Apprenticeship, a Hawthorden Fellowship and a residency at the Blue Mountain Centre (New York). She has a PhD from Newcastle University.
He was a Whittle man
now he collects logs and lights
the tree house fire each morning
and cleans up rubbish and does odd
jobs and learns a bit
about gardening as part of a government scheme.
Had my Grandfather lived
he would have taken his breaks
With this man, sitting
shoulder to shoulder in the pit
of the bait shed
which in the olden days was full of apples.
Whittle, a former British coal mine in Northumberland, closed in 1997.
Anna says – ‘Bait Shed’ is in my book Birdhouse and was written as part of a residency I did at Alnwick Garden in Northumberland. A lot of the gardeners there are ex-miners: I was chatting to one in the Bait Shed (bait is local dialect for lunch) and felt like I was communing with my grandfather who died prematurely (like so many miners) before all the pits were shut down.
The Gender and Law at Durham Research Group
are discussing provocation: holding law up to the light.
Their chairs clash at an inadequate table.
From the postgraduate student – her name written in silver
around her neck – to the professor who has brought cakes
out of her backpack – no one is afraid to use words
like contempt and coercion or simply to shout
for milk or sugar, if tea is what they want.
This office is the opposite of a room with a low bed
where a woman might be held down so long
but I want to end with this office . I want to linger here all afternoon.
Anna says, ‘The Gender and Law at Durham Research Group’ was published in the Rialto magazine and is work from a recent Leverhulme residency at Durham University’s Law School. I was sitting in on the Group while they discussed a controversial legal case in the UK involving a woman who had been jailed for contempt of court, having accused her husband of rape and then withdrawn her claim – perhaps, members of the Group speculated, because of coercion. I was struck by the contrast between the forthright women in the Group and the privileged space they sat in – and the silenced woman they were discussing.
Have a look here if you’d like to find out more about Anna or you just fancy another dip into her poetry.