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Maria Isakova Bennett

Remembered landscapes

Listen to Maria Isakova Bennett read two poems, ‘Remembered Landscapes’ and ‘Three Jam Jars Scoured Clean’ from her recent Hazel Press collection, an o an x.

How I write:

Every day! Expansively and associatively, mostly in notebooks, maybe 10 or 12 a year, which become a kind of commonplace book or series of artist’s sketchbooks. Places to record, explore and excavate, they’re source material and part of me.

First drafts come from these notebooks, other notes, maybe photographs. Ideally, I write first drafts, or what may become first drafts, alone late at night or early in the morning for as long as my teaching work and other commitments allow – sometimes only an hour, but longer when working on a specific project or during breaks from teaching, editing, or creating journals for Coast to Coast to Coast (the handmade poetry journal, which has published work by over 120 writers in more than 1,200 hand-stitched journals.)

an o  an x had its genesis in a notebook from ideas around painting and still life written during a trip to Cornwall in July 2022. Back home that August, I was making art and started working those notes up into poems.

Once I begin to type up lines that feel important, I know I’m on my way to a poem. In early drafts, I might write quite a lot in terms of the number of lines, but I’m a tight editor and pare everything back: I’m not afraid to cut. I often print out a draft and carry it around with me to read away from home and to tinker with the poem in any spare moments. I feel uncomfortable if I haven’t got something to work on, so I carry notes, ideas and drafts everywhere.

About Maria:

Maria is an artist, writer and teacher working in Liverpool. Hazel Press has published two of her collections: an o   an x and Painting the Mersey in 17 Canvases. Maria’s prizes include a
Peggy Poole Award (selected by Vona Groarke) and a New Writing North Award (selected
by Clare Pollard).


Words and recording copyright © Maria Isakova Bennett 2024.

Author photo by Ron Davies.

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