WHILE some people were busy baking banana bread, Solihull actor and writer Emma Hodgkinson spent her lockdown experience cultivating an anthology of her own poetry.
Emma, 27, first began writing poetry during her MA in Actor Performer Training at Rose Bruford College in Kent.
But as performing has been put on hold with most UK theatres closed since March she turned to writing.
Her newly published poetry collection, Getting Over Myself (and other people), is divided into four chapters: Dopamine, Oxytocin, Cortisol and Seretonin happiness with illustrations by Helen Walker. Each of these covers the hormonal response to pleasure, love, stress and finally, happiness with illustrations by Helen Walker.
She said: “Writing and reading poetry allows me to make sense of thoughts and feelings that can sometimes feel overwhelming. When so many of us are forced to slow down, we are suddenly face to face with all our inner demons and it can be tempting to distract yourself with projects and plans. Getting Over Myself (and other people) helped me to deal with my inner conflict head on – and hopefully it can do the same for readers.
“I’ve written my own work for years but it’s usually been script writing/screen writing but when I went to drama school to train as an actor we were encouraged to explore language and writing in a far more organic way than I’ve been used to and I began writing poetry and quickly became completely addicted
“It’s drawn partly from my own experience and I find writing an incredible way to process emotions, but I also often write poems to help me explore a character when I’m acting so there are some in the collection which feel like they belong to an entirely different person, whereas others are deeply personal.
“I think poetry is fantastically relevant in today’s culture. First of all, poetry sales are increasing dramatically after years of it seeming to go out of fashion and this is largely down to social media – particularly certain sites such as Instagram and Tumblr – where we have the ability to consume and share art like never before.
“As well as this, the rise in mental health issues means that people are in need of something that helps them to slow down and reflect, which poetry does so beautifully.
“And this is without even mentioning the challenges people have faced this year: we’ve all been forced to deal with our inner demons and poetry can allow us to do this in a way that helps us understand ourselves and feel less isolated.”
Emma is donating 10% of all proceeds from the anthology to domestic violence charity Refuge.
She said: “I chose Refuge because it feels like a particularly important charity during a time when we are forced to be at home. I have been finding the lockdown and current restrictions incredibly challenging and this creeps into the poetry occasionally – however, I am more than aware of how lucky I am to feel safe at home and so wanted to use the book to help support those who do not have that.”
Before the pandemic Emma performed in The Unreturn of Lydia Osborne at The Ditch, Shoreditch in London, Macbeth As Told by Carl Jung as well as Pericles at Barnabas, Dalston and this year, she was set to perform in a national tour of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Wonder With Grimm with Leamington Spa-based Heartbreak Productions.
“I am missing performing very, very much! I was devastated when the national tour was cancelled, however, Heartbreak Productions do everything they can to support their actors, so I have been very lucky to do some filming work with them – featuring in their short film series, Tell My Story.
“The spoken word poetry scene is great fun and I’m looking forward to performing some of the poems when things pick up again. For now I’m currently working with some other artists using the poems as parts of short films. I am also planning an online reading with a Q&A so watch this space!”
Getting Over Myself (and other people) is available on Amazon for £9.99. To see more of Emma Hodgkinson’s poetry and Helen Walker’s artwork, find them on Instagram at @drippinghoneypoetry and @h_wlkr_design