Julia Webb (British Working Class Poets)

Julia Webb

 

Julia Webb is a writer and poetry tutor/mentor from a working-class background, based in Norwich, UK. She is a poetry editor for ‘Lighthouse’ a journal for new writing. In 2018 she won the Battered Moons poetry competition. She has three collections with Nine Arches Press: Bird Sisters (2016), Threat (2019) and The Telling (2022). She believes that poetry is for everyone regardless of class and that writing has the power to change lives.

 

She was a biscuit barrel or barrel shaped at least

 

as he kept reminding her

the bucket he kicked splashed lemony water up the wall

her face a crumpled tissue on the floor

the dog was whining outside the locked back door

the TV was querulous and mundane

the shopping was waiting to be packed away

the kettle was whistling on the stove

a child was shuffling on their bottom down the stairs

 

She was a biscuit barrel though whether empty or full was unclear

he was a barrel full of vinegary homemade beer

his contents leaking out across the floor

a child had shuffled down the stairs and let the dog in

in the other room the TV blared

the shopping was defrosting in the pushchair’s tray

the kettle was still whistling on the stove

 

She was a biscuit barrel mopping the kitchen floor

he was cursing the kettle and the dog

shouting through to turn the TV off or else

his mood was vinegary and cold

the shopping was scattered across the floor

the dog was whining in the hall

a child was crying in the downstairs loo

the house was quarrelsome and sly

 

 

 

From Threat (Nine Arches Press, 2019)

All that Water

 

The house a flood plain

though we didn’t know it,

beds washing around their rooms at night

like boats broken from their moorings.

The only light a soft orange bleed

through too thin curtains.

 

As we drifted off

we could hear our parents downstairs

(neither of them swimmers)

struggling to keep their heads above water,

the garbled voices of underwater TV.

 

When Nanny H arrived

suddenly everything felt calm and safe –

she brought life buoys and flares,

she tucked us into bed at night

wearing orange life jackets.

 

And yet beneath her calm surface

was a deeper water –

a vortex that led to the underworld

and when she thought we were ready

she would casually toss us down.

 

from The Telling (Nine Arches Press, 2022)

 


 

Crash Site

 

We remember only vaguely now the wreckage of our mother –

her damaged fuselage suspended precariously

between two broken pine trees;

how carefully one had to tread

so as not to bring the whole thing down,

and everywhere the stink of spilled aviation fuel –

at least in the beginning.

 

We never did find that black box

so it was always unclear exactly what had happened,

and each survivor told a different story.

But the wreckage was there for all to see –

seats and belongings scattered far and wide,

things broken open,

life jackets snagged on jagged branches.

 

Though our mother’s windows

had popped out with the pressure,

she sometimes talked affectionately about the plummet,

but swore she could remember nothing

of our other life, before take-off.

Our first memory was the screaming of metal

and the silence which came after.

 

from Threat (Nine Arches Press, 2022)


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