Currently celebrating the launch of her second chapbook Going Gorgeous, poet Ann Graal has been charming northern audiences with her quiet wit and linguistic spark. Midlands-born, Teeside-based and pioneering poetry at an advanced age, The Yorker asks: who are you, Ann, and what do you do?
Hello Ann! We’ve heard your name around the literary north lately. Can you tell us about yourself?
I’m originally from Stoke, but now settled in the North East. Many years ago I got my English degree from Durham as a mature student and now I’m retired; and alone, as my husband died fifteen years ago. I have two sons, one of whom lives in Tokyo, the other in Sheffield.
You’ve only just published your first chapbook with The Black Light Engine Room, Middlesbrough. Can you tell us about that?
Yes, Going Gorgeous is not actually my first publication. This was a pamphlet with Vane Women, In A Savage Country, published in 2013. I’m also featured in a number of recent anthologies.
Why do you write and when did you start?
I started to write seriously about ten years ago after attending a class of Bob Beagrie’s at Teesside University. I was always an avid reader of poetry and found myself very envious of a friend who had been writing for years. I can’t imagine not doing it now, although I’ve been through several of the desperate dry intervals that many poets experience.
Are you planning another collection?
At present I’m trying to compile a collection about my early life in a mining village in North Staffordshire with a somewhat vague hope of finding a publisher down in the Midlands. I have a few more poems to write and often get tempted to write about other things. Recently, for example, I was published in an issue of Obsessed With Pipework devoted to poems about spoons.
And, last, where can we find your work?
I can always be heard on the open mic at The Black Light Engine Room in Middlesbrough, and my pamphlets are available from both there and Vane Women. Maybe I’ll get a website — soon.
The Black Light Engine Room readings take place at The Python Gallery, Middlesbrough.