Louise Mather is a poet from Northern England. You can find her on Twitter @lm2020uk and her work is published or forthcoming in magazines such as Fly on the Wall Press, streetcake magazine, The Cabinet of Heed, Hecate Magazine, Crow & Cross Keys, Dust Poetry Magazine, Idle Ink, Not Deer Magazine, Nymphs, Odd Magazine, Blue Moon Poetry and Lanke Review. Her artwork has appeared in Versification alongside her poem “Menstruous” and she was recently longlisted for the Norman Nicholson Lockdown Poetry Competition, published in the anthology The Unpredicted Spring. She writes about ancestry, rituals, endometriosis, fatigue and mental health, and is editor of the cat-themed anthology Feline Utopia.
Who and what inspires you?
There are many places I find inspiration - in nature and elements, heirlooms, dreams, music, and I'm always reading. I'm very interested in rituals and love mythology, fairy tales, philosophy, astrophysics and psychology. I read a lot of novels alongside poetry and have a massive appreciation for reading different types and styles, whether it be traditional or experimental and there are so many great journals online.
I also find inspiration comes from delving into the past, through ancestry and on a personal level. My writing is definitely rooted in emotion, for me it's primarily a way to channel my thoughts, often when they feel overwhelming, and there seems a sense of alchemy to this process. I write a lot about my experiences of illness, pain, fatigue and mental health, about loneliness, depression, grief, fear and trauma. So, my poems are often quite dark and that's what I tend to be drawn to in other people's work; that's where I feel a connection.
My son is a huge inspiration to me, everything he does, says, his sense of wonder. He loves books and the moon already. I'm currently putting together a pamphlet of poems about him and my experiences of birth and motherhood.
How do you find time to write as a parent?
Finding time to write as a mum has been challenging, and I really became aware of this through lockdown with a toddler. Sometimes it feels as if I'm trying to do about five things at once and since I was young, I've struggled with my physical and mental health, so I have to work around that too. My partner has worked from home during the pandemic, and he's able to take our son out for walks sometimes to give me a bit of time. That’s when I try to cram in housework, writing, reading and a rest - sometimes it's more productive than others.
Nowadays, I often write notes on my phone, whether it's lines for a poem, ideas for a short story, or additions to a novel. I find poetry a lot easier to write, and more in the moment, I feel like that's what I always go back to and find solace in. Any notes I'll write up later if I'm not too tired, or if my son's watching television, I'll sneak a look or have a quick read. We do a lot of artwork together, and I've recently got back into mandalas and asemic writing. I'm lucky my mum is a massive support and often the first person I'll show my poems to.
Which writing activities kickstart your writing when you're struggling?
I don't often suffer from writer's block, maybe that's because I'm always reading and I'm an over-thinker, but I can find it hard to concentrate at times. Sometimes it's just getting that break and time, being able to process thoughts, focus, and go through notes. I have a lot of lists for the week: subs, competitions, any other ideas and projects, so planning really helps, taking one thing at a time, pacing myself. I know if there's a bad day or busy week I'll get back to it sooner or later, but it often doesn't feel like it at the time and sometimes I just need a rest which can feel frustrating, then I’ll probably end up writing another period poem…
It's been great for me to find like-minded people and the support of the Twitter writing community. There are so many lovely, talented writers, which I find really inspiring and motivating, and I can't say how nice it's been over the last few months to get sent cat poems and artwork for the Feline Utopia Anthology, everyone has been incredibly supportive. I've got some more ideas in the pipeline for later in the year, so keep an eye on my website and Twitter page.
You can find links to my work and download the Feline Utopia Anthology to read for free from my website:
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Published poet and novelist inspiring, supporting and giving mums a space to write.
Part of the Writing Producers' Scheme 2020
Thanks to Paper Nations for their support and guidance
Nikki Dudley (facilitator)
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