#MentalHealthAwarenessWeek 9th-15th May. This year’s theme is “Loneliness”. Day Two. Please join Margaret Royall, Louise Longson, Sue Finch, Peter J. Donnelly, Teresa Durran, Anjum Wasim Dar, Gillian Winn and I. I want to feature your published/unpublished poetry/short prose/artworks about loneliness. Please include a short third person bio. Here are seven types of loneliness as defined in an article in Psychology Today. If you have any unplublished/published poetry/short prose and/or artworks that relate to these I would love to feature them. New-situation loneliness. You’ve moved to a new city where you don’t know anyone, or you’ve started a new job, or you’ve started at a school full of unfamiliar faces. You’re lonely. B) I’m-different loneliness. You’re in a place that’s not unfamiliar, but you feel different from other people in an important way that makes you feel isolated. Maybe your faith is really important to you, and the people around you don’t share that — or vice versa. Maybe everyone loves doing outdoor activities, but you don’t — or vice versa. It feels hard to connect with others about the things you find important. Or maybe you’re just hit with the loneliness that hits all of us sometimes — the loneliness that’s part of the human condition. C) No-sweetheart loneliness. Even if you have lots of family and friends, you feel lonely because you don’t have the intimate attachment of a romantic partner. Or maybe you have a partner, but you don’t feel a deep connection to that person. D) No-animal loneliness. Many people have a deep need to connect with animals. If this describes you, you’re sustained by these relationships in a way that human relationships don’t replace. While I love my dog Barnaby, I don’t feel this myself — but many people feel like something important is missing if they don’t have a dog or cat (or less conveniently, a horse) in their lives. E) No-time-for-me loneliness. Sometimes you’re surrounded by people who seem friendly enough, but they don’t want to make the jump from friendly to friends. Maybe they’re too busy with their own lives, or they have lots of friends already, so while you’d like a deeper connection, they don’t seem interested. Or maybe your existing friends have entered a new phase that means they no longer have time for the things you all used to do — everyone has started working very long hours, or has started a family, so that your social scene has changed. F) Untrustworthy-friends loneliness. Sometimes, you get in a situation where you begin to doubt whether your friends are truly well-intentioned, kind, and helpful. You’re “friends” with people but don’t quite trust them. An important element of friendship is the ability to confide and trust, so if that’s missing, you may feel lonely, even if you have fun with your friends. G) Quiet-presence loneliness. Sometimes, you may feel lonely because you miss having someone else’s quiet presence. You may have an active social circle at work, or have plenty of friends and family, but you miss having someone to hang out with at home — whether that would mean living with a roommate, a family member, or a sweetheart. Just someone who’s fixing a cup of coffee in the next room, or reading on the sofa.

Day Two
mhaw poster 2022

Clapping

You can hear your own clapping
louder than anyone else’s.
You are not matching the rhythm
of anyone in this room.
Soon they will be looking at you
willing you to stop.
You try to change the way
your hands hit one another
but you cannot unhollow the sound.

-Sue Finch

-Sarah Reeson

Lodger

Even after some time, she was never seen as part of the family.
When they remember her
at all, it is through a mobled veil of muffled memory: never
quite able to recall anything
definite about her features, her voice.

She lived unremarked, unreal. If she had been a colour,
she would have been a drab shade;
musty olive-green, the utility-grey of a government building
with fly-blown, thick-frosted
wire-glass windows.

Later, after she had gone, they cleared away what remained
of her vestigial presence, gifting
her with unwonted attention, finding hard evidence
of her inherent quiddity in an unlikely
cupboard, where the third-best sheets once lived. Neatly shelved:
a-hundred-and-thirty pickle jars, empty now
save for clouded vinegar.

Empty now, save for the full-hearted attempt to preserve
something forgotten, a bitter memento
of something lost, embalmed with the dead
mustard seeds, the slime of baby onions,
the faded red pimento.

-Louise Longson (These poems feature in her upcoming pamphlet Songs from the Witch Bottle: cytoplasmic variations by Louise Longson, Alien Buddha Press 2022)

Judith
Losing a best friend far too early

‘All Things bright and beautiful’ dresses,
that’s what we wore on Summer days,
Judith and I,
They even had matching knickers too!
Wearing them we were true princesses,
playing hopscotch under the sun,
for back then the sun shone all summer long –
(Or maybe that was that just how it seemed?)

We walked together to school each day,
Judith and I,
wearing the same blue macs with hoods,
white ankle socks, Clarks t-bar shoes.
Our hairdresser couldn’t do trendy cuts,
she only had one style she really knew,
so both of us sported the same prim bobs
adorned with cute silk bows on top.

During the six-week holidays
We’d skip together down Hardy’s Lane,
Judith and I,
hand in hand, teddies under our arms,
we visited Billy the Bull on the farm,
dared each other to climb on his pen
and tickle his back with mare’s tail grass.

In later life, though living apart
we always made sure that we kept in touch,
Judith and I.
Each time I had news, whether good or bad,
I would rush to the phone to call her up,
hear her say ‘North Kelsey 490’.
We were twin souls who belonged together.

And still I want to rush to the phone
and hear her say – ‘North Kelsey 490’
But then I remember she’s no longer here…..
Life has moved on and the whole world has changed.
Twenty years on I still miss her so much –
I just wish I had told her how special she was!

-Margaret Royall

Distinctive

I and one other told join the top class
only for History, finds us betwixt
and between, defined as strangers we pass
from world to world, always apart, a mixed

reception. We must use Ordinary
level text, not CSE. All their eyes
say, tha thinks tha better n’ us. Wary
make effort not to be noticed, our try

highlighted by teacher always asking
one of us our opinion. Our Mam
and Dad’s fought for this, for us, arguing
with school were bright enough, should be top rank.

Our parents want, work towards best for us.
We are separate in distinctiveness.

-Paul Brookes

Bios And Links

-Louise Longson

cleared enough space in her spare room and head to start writing ‘properly’ during lockdown 2020. She is published by One Hand Clapping, Fly on the Wall, Nymphs, Ekphrastic Review, Obsessed with Pipework, Indigo Dreams Publishing, The Poetry Shed and others. She is a winner of  Dreich’s chapbook competition 2021 with Hanging Fire. A qualified psychotherapist, she works with historic trauma and the physical and emotional distresses caused by chronic loneliness. Lives with an orange cat and a silver Yorkshireman. In her head, sky is always blue, grass always green, leaves always golden. Needs to get out more.

Twitter @LouisePoetical  

-Teresa Durran

was born in London and lives in Hampshire but has rarely felt less English; the blood of Celtic ancestors flows through her veins. Being the daughter of immigrants has entirely informed her world view and she has always instinctively empathised with the outsider and the ‘other’.

She writes delicate poems for fragile times because she has to. She wanders and wonders and dreams, and she is always lost in music.

-Sue Finch’s

debut collection, ‘Magnifying Glass’, was published in 2020. Her work has also appeared in a number of online magazines. She lives with her wife in North Wales. She loves the coast, peculiar things and the scent of ice-cream freezers. You can often find her on Twitter @soopoftheday.

 –Margaret  Royall

has six books of poetry published. She has appeared widely in print, in webzines and  poetry anthologies. She has won or been short-listed in several competitions and her collection ‘Where Flora Sings’, published by Hedgehog Press, was nominated for the Laurel Prize in 2021. Her latest collection, ‘Immersed in Blue’ was published in January 2022 by Impspired Press. She leads a women’s poetry group in Nottinghamshire and takes part in open mic sessions online and in person. She is currently working on a third poetry collection.

Website: https://margaretroyall.com/ Twitter:@RoyallMargaret

-S Reeson [she/they] is 55, bisexual and married with two children: they have suffered anxiety for all of their life, and started telling stories as a ten-year-old in order to help them cope. Now, they write and record poetry, short stories and episodic fiction, whilst dissecting their unique creative process using both video and audio as the means to continue coping.

A considerable lived experience of mental health issues, a passion for niche arts and media and an undimmed enthusiasm for environmentalism combine, to allow creativity to emerge, and new stories and projects to be created. They love to experiment and push creative boundaries, and gain a huge amount of motivation and inspiration from talking about both the journey and continued evolution as a creative.

After winning a Poetry Society members’ contest (and reading that piece at the Poetry Café in Covent Garden) they attended the inaugural Mslexicon in 2019 and took part in their first ever Open Mic event. In that same year they wrote 24 poems about their home town for the Places of Poetry online initiative, one of which is included in the official anthology published for National Poetry Day in October 2020 by Bloomsbury and subsequently reproduced by the Sunday Telegraph.

Their work has been published by Flights / Quarterly ejournalGreen Ink PoetryFevers of the MindAcropolis JournalSelcouth StationBlack Bough Poetry, Flapjack Press and Dreich, plus there have been performances at Gloucester Poetry Festival, Flight of the Dragonflies and the monthly event at Wordsworth Grasmere. They have read alongside countless poets, including Caroline Bird, Steve Camden, Deanna Roger, Jeremy Dixon, Julia Webb and Wendy Pratt, and in 2021 they read at the Essex Book Festival. They’ve also learnt and grown creatively via poetry courses run by Apples and SnakesKevin HigginsWendy Pratt and Jonathan Davidson. A self-produced poetry chapbook was produced in November 2020 (available to buy here).

In October 2021 they were nominated for the Best of the Net Award.

They enjoy living online, but also find great joy from lifting heavy weights, running and cycling in the meat-space. When not doing these, they are pursuing an ASD diagnosis on the NHS.

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