I first met Jennifer Compton at the inaugural Newcastle Writer's Festival in 2013, when I cheekily sat down at her table in a crowded cafe. We were both there to read our poetry. I was on my own, and she was there with two other poets as part of a tour that was nearly finished. I was intrigued at the idea of a touring 'band' of poets, reading in different places, at different events, and cheering each other on as indeed they did, whooping and supporting one another through the performances. Jennifer read beautifully - performing her pieces with flair and leaving me with teary eyes. Her poem "Now You Shall Know" won last year's Newcastle Poetry Prize. Here's a little excerpt, taken from the NPP page.
But I am an old woman also. Two old women waking to the new day
that will bring a sudden jolt that is the beginning of the end for her.
I have imagined what I might feel dressing for my mother's funeral,
and as I pinned her lily-of-the-valley brooch to my grey lapel, I knew.
I'll be interviewing Jennifer on the 25th of October at the NPP Poetry Prize Ceremony from 9.45am – 10.30am, and you're welcome to join us there (please come and say hello!).
The following poem "Palmy" (for Palmerston North in New Zealand) comes from her book This City, which won The Kathleen Grattan Award for Poetry:
Here's the title poem from This City:
I am travelling away from my life, towards my life.
This city knows all my secrets.
And that tram, lit from within, waiting at the end of the line.
This city, which is nowhere else.
I'm looking forward to spending several hours lost in This City in preparation for my chat with Jennifer (as if I needed a reason...).