Sharon' Some Verse!
This week I sat down with my good friend Sharon Pritchard, to talk about her book of poetry, Birth, Death & The Bits In Between. Available on Amazon, (check it out here), it provides a wonderful retrospective of growing up in post-war Britain, mixed in with some of the most poignant final farewell verse I’ve ever read. Check out our conversation below:
Your book of poetry is a wonderful concoction of advice, recollections of times-gone-by, and heartfelt declarations of love to family and friends. Have you always used poetry to describe how you feel?
Not exactly. My poems just seem to come to me at unexpected times - just a couple of lines at first, and they may not always relate to my feelings, but how I imagine someone else may be feeling.
When did you write your first poem? Have you squirreled them away over the years, or have you written dozens that have been lost forever?
I was so fortunate to have an amazing teacher at junior school who was passionate about poetry. He passed on some of that passion to me and I can remember from the age of about 8 just choosing a random word from a book and trying to think of as many words as I could that rhymed with it! One of the poems in my book, titled Winter, I wrote when I was eleven. In the same year just before I left junior school, I wrote the school hymn along with the music which continued to be the school hymn for many years after. I have notebooks filled with verses of various themes, scraps of paper with a limerick scribbled on them and even some painstakingly typed on an old Underwood typewriter from my school days!
How do you go about the creative process? Do you have an inspired moment and rush for a pen, or does a theme come to you and you develop the poem over a period of time? Do you go back and edit, or do you feel you lose something in the editing process?
I do sometimes find myself rushing for a pen and scribbling a few words on the back of a shopping receipt or something. I rarely develop a poem over a period of time - the verses have to flow out all at once! Occasionally I do go back and edit to look for a more suitable adjective maybe or if my excited shorthand is illegible, so yes, I do go back and edit.
One of my favorite poems is My Friend. It seems it can be interpreted several ways. It may be about a close friend, a lover, or deeply spiritual, and about a person’s higher power. You even refer to God in the last line. Was it meant to be religious in nature? Was your reference to God literal for you, or is its mystery part of its appeal?
I like to think that My Friend is open to interpretation by the reader. I do however believe in an 'Almighty Power' or a 'Superior Being' and I hope my readers can refer to whatever beliefs they have when they read this particular poem.
Your book is titled Birth, Death & The Bits In Between, and you address the finality of dying several times over; all very beautifully. Take your poems Last Hours With a Friend and Sanctuary. They dignify something that is very scary to a lot of people. What compels you to revisit this subject?
I was privileged to volunteer at St. Christopher's Hospice in London for two years, and I was also a Vigil Volunteer for Hospice of South West Florida during my time in the States. During those periods of my life I met some courageous, inspiring people who bravely spent their remaining time on this earth not wallowing in self-pity, but preparing themselves and their families for what lay ahead. Last Hours with a Friend was written about a personal experience that I had in Sarasota, Florida when a very dear friend died. The Letter is one of my personal favorites, and I wrote it for an acquaintance who had lost her husband some years previously but had never really found peace because he died unexpectedly and she didn't have time to say goodbye. I suggested she write him a letter.....I simply imagined how she must have felt writing it. I am so pleased to say that it worked for her, and she eventually found peace. We became good friends over the years and still keep in contact. I like to think that these types of verses give comfort to someone out there.
By self-publishing your book, you’ve left a wonderful legacy for your children and grandchildren. Is there a volume two in your future?
My family has inspired me to write a great deal of poetry and encouraged me to publish. I always believed my poems were too amateurish for a mass audience to enjoy, particularly as I once joined a poetry club and at the first meeting everyone was discussing a member who would never succeed in the poetry world as his poems actually rhymed! Needless to say, I made a hasty retreat before they could read any of mine! As for volume two.....if I can collate all of the little gems I have scribbled on the back of shopping receipts, who knows? But if I do, I’ll be sure to let you know, Zoe!
May I share my favorite with my readers?
You tell me that I open doors
And yet, the only keys are yours
You’ve kept them hidden all these years
Whilst I have shed so many tears
But now I’ve found the doors ajar
I know exactly where you are
You’re in my heart – just you alone
And I’m no longer on my own
I’ll always have you by my side
To take away the tears I’ve cried
To love me like no other did
Bring out emotions thay I hid
Allow my spirit to be free
And yet, be there to cherish me
I love you so with all my heart
Because my life’s about to start
And in that life I want to be
Just with you … eternally