We were all agreed …

When I saw the call for submissions for Hair Raising, a fund-raising anthology of poems in support of Macmillan on the theme of hair, I knew the poem I wanted to write, on the intersection of dementia and cancerland.

Like some of the poems in Wristwatch, We were all agreed is a poem about visiting my late aunt Lillian in her nursing home, set during the time I had lost my hair to chemo. Lillian and I were close, and she spent her final years in an Edinburgh nursing home near me. During my cancer treatment she was my nearest family member, and this poem is a tribute to the support she unwittingly gave me. I chose not to tell her about my cancer, which led to some interesting moments. I have only recently felt able I could write about this in the way I wanted – connecting with the humour latent in the situation, which was absolutely in keeping with Lillian’s personality (and my own!).

Selfie of Jay and her aunt Lillian, laughing heartily, in 2015. Hair poet’s own.

Instead of a launch event, Nine Pens has created a launch page where contributors to Hair Raising to video ourselves reading our poems. A video of me reading We were all agreed will appear there soon – alongside several excellent contributions from other poets. Please do buy this fine anthology, and support this great cause.  

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