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!).
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.