Heartfelt poetry stems from loss

Gristhorpe poet Wendy Pratt . Picture by Dave Kettlewell. 114487
Gristhorpe poet Wendy Pratt . Picture by Dave Kettlewell. 114487

GRIEF and catharsis infuse a poetry pamphlet published by a writer and scientist.

Wendy Pratt, of Gristhorpe, was devastated when she and her husband Chris lost their baby daughter last year.

They had been trying to conceive for six years and were overjoyed when Wendy became pregnant.

“But, sadly, our precious little daughter was stillborn in 2010,” Wendy says. It was “a loss that near destroyed us.

“The poems in the pamphlet deal with this loss both from a personal perspective but also by making the link between different characters, different times and historical events.

“It has a very strong voice, which I thought was a very female voice but I’ve found that there is a connection to men as well,” says Wendy. “Watching my husband deal with his grief affected me and since I process most things through poetry, that all came out too.

“But there is someone else in the pamphlet - my alter ego, Nan Hardwicke.

“She was a real, supposed, witch from Yorkshire, but I took her and made her my own, fictionalising her character to speak on abandonment, love, lust, fear and grief.

“She is like the mirror to the real events and gets away with more than enough mischief. You wouldn’t want to meet her in a dark alley! She threads through the pamphlet, joining the narratives and adding something other-worldly to it. And by doing that, she emphasises the story line, deepens it and gives another perspective.”

The pamphlet, entitled Nan Hardwicke Turns Into a Hare, has a foreword by poet Alison Brackenbury.

Wendy grew up in Scarborough and went to Pindar School, which she says “was an education in itself, never mind the lessons”.

She says she had various dead-end jobs before taking a position in the pathology laboratories at Scarborough Hospital. “They were good enough to fund my BSc and I’m now a state-registered biomedical scientist.

“Poetry is not mainstream by any stretch of the imagination and there are few good poetry publications on the market. I was rejected and am rejected a lot, but that’s the writer’s life.

“As I’ve learnt more about the craft, and improved my style and skill as a writer, I’ve managed to get published more widely in Other Poetry, Pennine Platform, Snakeskin, Interpreter’s House and Prole, an up-and-coming literary journal whose mission is to bring creative writing back to the people, to make it more accessible.

“I co-judged Prole’s poetry competition alongside Brett Evans and was very excited when Prole approached me with a view to putting my work into a pamphlet. The editors have worked tirelessly to bring it together and I feel proud and grateful to them both.”

l Nan Hardwicke Turns Into a Hare can be bought online and at some independent bookshops.