Today I’d like to present you Mel Woodend, a poet whose poetry collection, Natural Colours has been released recently. We’re the alumni of the same MA, the Children’s Literature program of Roehampton University, London and as such I’m trying to support her in her writing endeavours.
During late primary school she moved a bit more Northerly – and hit her turbulent teens. Mel always found solace in her writing.
After working in a few office jobs she realised she wanted to pursue a more academic career – and studied A Level English at her local college, then a BA Honours degree in English Language and Literature with the Open University. For a girl who did not attend school after the age of thirteen, Mel certainly gained “the bug” for studying! She has gone on to achieve a Postgraduate Certificate in Children’s Literature and is now studying for her Masters in Creative Writing, which she is enjoying tremendously.
Mel enjoys helping children and worked in both the primary and secondary school educational sector whilst studying her degree, however, losing her Dad very suddenly in 2015 shook her world, making her re-evaluate everything and she has now taken the plunge into writing full time.
Thank you very much for coming over to see us and having this little interview with me. Welcome to Ink, maps and Macarons! Your new poetry book, Natural Colours was released on the 30th of April and the official book launch is scheduled for Saturday, 13 May.
1.It sounds like a very interesting project. Can you tell us a bit more about it? What gave you the idea?
Thank you so much for interviewing me. Thanks – Natural Colours started off as a few separate poems. My Dad died very suddenly eighteen months ago – which was a total shock and I have to say I was unable to think or feel or write anything creatively for – probably about six months or so. I really wasn’t coping and it was on a very changeable April day that started out sunny and warm – then the sky changed to a heavy black and an enormous hailstorm pelted down – that gave me the idea for ‘Battered Senses’ – really the whole poem is a metaphor for my feelings processing my Dad’s death. And I felt such a release of emotion in writing it I realised how therapeutic my writing could actually be for me. And from then on I just kept writing – the poems for Natural Colours all seemed to evolve into a theme about nature. Natural Colours explores synaesthesia in the way colours affect all our senses. It is largely inspired by the colours in nature all around us. There are hopefully a few amusing poems in there too – particularly one about my pet cat!
2.Is this your first publication or have you had things published before? (If yes, where?)
This is the fourth poetry book I have written and self-published. My first was A Poet’s Poems (published April 2015). I was only going to release it as an e Book but lots of people got in touch and said they would really like to read a paperback version of it – so that followed in the May. It is a varied collection with some really light-hearted humorous poems such as ‘Nails’ – which is all about my terrible habit of nail biting!
A couple of months later I started to write another collection Journeys & Memories (published December 2015). It explores journeys – both real and imaginary or metaphorical, and childhood memories. Some are fictional but many are based on my own childhood. My Dad was illustrating this before he died – so it is very special to me as it is something we were producing together.
I published a smaller chapbook the following spring Poems Of Spring (May 2016); which was after I had started writing again and explores the idea of new hope and new life in spring.
3.Are you mostly a poet or do you write in other genres, as well? If yes what, are your favourites?
I do mostly write poetry but I also enjoy writing children’s fiction. I recently studied a Postgraduate Certificate in Children’s Literature – including writing creatively for children. I am currently studying for my Masters in Creative Writing – so am actively experimenting with other genres. But I think poetry for me feels the most natural at the moment. Earlier this year I finished writing a children’s story, Tails of a Little Brown Mouse. It is currently being reviewed by publishers. I loved creating the characters for this story and I hope younger readers will fall in love with ‘Mouse’ – who is a mischievous but lovable character! I’m a big fan of Young Adult fiction and am hoping to write something in the genre as one of my next projects.
4.Do you have a favourite poet who inspired you?
My favourite poets are the Romantic poets William Blake and William Wordsworth. Their poetry about nature and the English countryside is so vivid and timelessly beautiful – a real inspiration.
5.Have you always wanted to be a writer?
It is all I have ever wanted to do! When I was a little girl I used to make up stories with my emergent writing scribble and retell them to my parents.
6.Do you have any peculiar writing habits?
My one writing habit is that I have to write my ideas down – as soon as they pop into my head. When my husband and I were flying home from our honeymoon I suddenly had an idea for a poem – so I wrote it at about two o’clock in the morning on the ‘Notes’ App of my iPhone – as we were flying through the air!
7.Which is your favourite colour and why?
Yellow is my favourite colour! It is the colour of summer, the colour of my very first school uniform, the colour of my cat’s eyes, and the colour of our wedding flowers.
8.I know it’s a hard question, but do you have a favourite poem from the collection, why?
I have two favourites I think. You Are which is, I suppose, about life after death. It is about the idea of a person living on in nature – in the sunsets and in other natural phenomenons. It is about my Dad. My other favourite is The Wise Cat which is a humorous anecdote about our pet cat, Bubbles.
9.It’s your chance to recommend your book to the readers. Why should they read it, (like what are the unique selling points)?
I believe in the idea of poetry and writing creatively as a therapeutic aid to healing. At my book launch on 13th May I will be giving a talk about my book Natural Colours but also about the way writing has helped me – and will be discussing the idea of therapeutic writing in support of Mental Health Awareness week at the library – as May is Mental Health Awareness Month. I really hope to be able to inspire other people through my poetry – to help them to ‘feel’ however they need to feel if they are going through any form of emotional struggle. I feel strongly about writing to evoke feelings in people and if my poems can, in some way, move or help another person to ‘feel’ however they need to feel – then that would be amazing. I hope people choose to read it – maybe because they are looking for some kind of emotional connection with nature. But I hope to be able to both move and amuse people with my poems.
10.The last question is an act of kindness, a shout out: if you have any contemporary poets out there, who you would recommend to your readers, now is the time to mention them.
I have met a couple of local poets recently who I found particularly inspiring; Gabriella Gay and Kuli Kohli. I find both poets to be very passionate in their work and their poems are powerful and thought provoking.
Thank you very much for your time and answers. I wish you happy writing and good luck with your volume!
Mel’s Writer Website
You can buy Natural Colours here