Heather Taylor Johnson
Heather Taylor Johnson is the author of four books of poetry and the editor of Shaping the Fractured Self: Poetry of Chronic Illness and Pain. Her second novel, Jean Harley was Here, was shortlisted in the Readings Prize for Australian Fiction and listed in their top 10 fiction books of 2017. She is currently the Writer in Residence at the JM Coetzee Centre for Creative Practice.
All essays by Heather Taylor Johnson
The Poem Exists First In The Body
Writing overly dramatic and just-plain-bad poetry is a surefire way of losing emotional intensity. I kept asking myself, ‘Where has my language gone?’ The answer comes in the form of a question: ‘What language?’ Even after giving oneself appropriate distance from the event – in my case the attack – how does one describe a violent spinning that lasts for hours? How does one describe severe nausea? Every time I tried to capture my symptoms in a poem it was ‘woe-is-me’, a plea for comfort, or, worse, didactic.