Episode 8: Julia Webb – Threat

The biographical and surreal meet in Julia Webb’s second collection Threat. She shares a few poems and discusses the experiences which inspired them.

She also sets a writing exercise on memories:

Joe Brainard wrote a book length poem called ‘I Remember’ (you can read an extract here) where each line starts with “I remember”. This has been copied a lot but is a good way to free you up and get memories flowing. Start each line with “I remember” and just keep going – thoughts that come up can be from any time in your life and don’t have to be related to one another. 

In the second part of the exercise take a memory and expand on it – don’t be precious about the actual details – it is OK to change things if it makes the poem better. Sometimes you might have to have two or three goes at writing about the same subject. One way to be more detached from your subject matter is to use the titles of people you are writing about rather than their names – for example: my mother, your mother, father, brother, uncle etc.

Please send your responses in here or share on social media using #poetrynonstop.

Julia Webb grew up in Thetford, a small town in rural Norfolk. She has a BA in Creative Writing from Norwich University College of the Arts and an MA (poetry) from the University of East Anglia. She lives in Norwich where she teaches creative writing and is a poetry editor for Lighthouse, a journal for new writing.  In 2011 she won the Poetry Society’s Stanza competition. Her poem ‘Sisters’ was highly commended in the 2016 Forward Prize. In 2016 she was writer in residence on Norwich Market. Her first collection, Bird Sisters, was published by Nine Arches Press in 2016.

Threat and Julia’s first collection Bird Sisters are available here.

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Julia Webb – She was a biscuit barrel or barrel shaped at least

Julia Webb

This week’s podcast guest is Julia Webb. Here is a poem from her second collection Threat published by Nine Arches Press.

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

Julia Webb (from Threat, Nine Arches Press, 2019)