Hello!

Hello and welcome to the website of Carolyn Jess-Cooke, award-winning author  of The Guardian Angel’s Journal (Little, Brown/Piatkus, 2011), The Boy Who Could See Demons (Piatkus, 2012), and the poetry collections Inroads (Seren, 2010) and BOOM! (Seren, 2014).

Carolyn’s books have been published in 22 languages. She has previously received an Eric Gregory Award, a Tyrone Guthrie Award, a Major Arts Council of England Award, and she has twice received a Northern Promise Award.

She lives in north-east England with her husband and four children.

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

  • “This book is quite simply brilliant to read, full of emotion and some heart wrenching plot twists … one of the best books with a child protagonist I’ve ever read.” – The Guardian
  • 
“Impressive . . . Jess-Cooke is every bit as skillful in her vivid portrayals of unworldly beings . . . as in illustrating the dreadful toll taken by mental illness.”—Booklist (US)
  • Jess-Cooke is one to watch.” – Publisher’s Weekly (starred review) (US)
  • “An incredible debut novel… This is The Lovely Bones meets It’s a Wonderful Life. Fabulous.” – The Sun
  • “This is the first novel by an intelligent and skillful writer from whom we cannot help feel that there are more good things to come.” Lovereading
  • “The new Audrey Niffenegger.” – Company Magazine
  • “The book is written with a poet’s eye for language, and also emotional intensity. For the Niffenegger fans, or those who like their fiction slightly strange.” - The Sunday M (Sydney, Australia)

Latest News and Updates

Film Poem of ‘Hare’

I wanted to share the filmpoem made by Melissa Diem of my poem ‘Hare’, which was placed in the National Poetry Competition top ten winning poems (out of 12,000 entries!) back in March. I was going through a really tough time at the beginning of the year so it was especially nice to get a phone call from Judith Palmer at the Poetry Society to tell me this amazing news.

As part of the award, the Poetry Society commissioned a number of filmmakers to make ‘filmpoems’ of the winning pieces. I really like mine and (now that I’ve joined Vimeo!) am pleased to share it here. The print version of the poem is in BOOM!, which Seren is offering with 20% discount at the minute. Let me know what you think…

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Festival Round-Up Part 1

I am a little over halfway through my Writing Motherhood tour so I thought it was high time I get cracking and post something about how it’s all been going.

So: a recap. After finishing BOOM! – my poetry collection about motherhood – I found I wasn’t quite done with the whole motherhood discussion. I wanted to create more conversations between mothers about motherhood, about the so-called juggling acts that happen when a woman has a child and continues to work in one form or another, and particularly about the publishing industry. And about many other things besides.

In short, Writing Motherhood was never just about parenting, or mothering, or figuring out how to raise a child. It was about issues specifically related to women when they decided to have a child and write, too.

I blogged a little bit about the events at the Wordsworth Trust, Hexham Book Festival, the Ledbury Poetry Festival, Poetry International at the Southbank Festival and the Belfast Book Festival earlier this year. Since then the project has visited Birmingham Literature Festival, Wigtown Book Festival, Sheffield Off the Shelf Festival, Durham Book Festival (a great review of that one here), and I was also invited to read at the Cheltenham Literature Festival as part of the National Poetry Competition.

That was a unique experience.

The ‘green room’ was an enormous marquee tent with chandeliers, lanterns, Chinese screens, and famous people. Brian Blessed and Colm Toibin were sat nearby on white leather sofas eating salmon and talking amiably with other famous people. I felt quite flustered.

As for the other events (with Rowan Coleman, Liz Fraser, Kate Long, Debi Gliori and Kathryn Maris), we had some pretty interesting conversations. We talked about our books, which more often than not dealt with real-life issues confronting women in particular, such as abuse and anorexia and suicide, but which nonetheless seemed to end up with an incongruously pink cover with wellies or cupcakes or suchlike on the front. We talked about the ‘juggling act’ of combining a writing life with children, the way motherhood has overhauled our feminism, and audiences were keen to tell their own stories: how some felt guilty about taking time away from their children to write when the odds of getting published were stacked against them. How others felt empowered by their experiences to dive into writing. Others raised the subject of baby brain: I mentioned that once, back when I was trying to write a new novel whilst coping with a newborn WHO DID NOT SLEEP, it took me three attempts one morning to spell the word ‘white’.

I got there in the end.

All in all, it has been a splendid few months. The next half of the tour kicks off on Sat 15 November at Taunton Literary Festival (details here), followed by a number of events in the Spring. Hope to see you there.

A summary of the last few months

 

Red shoes. Just because.

with Debi Gliori and Kathryn Maris

 

with Liz Fraser and Kate Long at Durham Book Festival

 

reading in the spectacular Town Hall in Durham 

 

me, my book, and a bookseller who’s probably thinking ‘is she going to pay for that?’

with poets Linda France and Julia Copus

 

the incredible Birmingham Rep Theatre!

 

with Rowan Coleman and Liz Fraser at the Sheffield Off the Shelf Festival

with Debi Gliori and Belfast Poet Laureate Sinead Morrissey at the Belfast Book Festival

with Steph Vidal-Hall (who chaired the panel), Kate Long and Rowan Coleman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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VOICING SHADOW, SINGING LIGHT: 7


‘Voicing Shadow, Singing Light’ is a blog series designed to tear down barriers of silence that perpetuate suffering from mental illness and deadly last resorts. In August I put a call out on Facebook and Twitter requesting poems that articulate some aspect of mental illness – whether as sufferer, survivor, carer or friend. The response has been overwhelming – hundreds of poems flooded into my inbox over a short period, compelling me to rethink my original plan of a two-part blog series into something larger. Over the next week I will post one blog each day featuring some of the finest poems I have ever read about mental illness. I hope you enjoy them, and pass them on as you see fit. At the bottom of each post is a number of links to the Mental Health Foundation and the World Health Organization’s online resources for Mental Health. Should you wish to begin speaking out right now, there is an opportunity to leave your own responses in the comments box below.

The poems below speak to experiences of isolation, treatment, caring, and recovery.  They constitute the very final part of the Voicing Shadow, Singing Light blog series – however, I have decided to publish an anthology. In due course I’ll put another call out for submissions online, but if you’re reading it here, do please get in touch if you’d like to submit.

Meantime, please continue to share these blogs with others who may feel inspired, edified or consoled by reading them. I have received an astonishing number of emails over the last week from people who have found comfort and recognition in these pieces. It is World Mental Health Day on 10th October, and I am very much hoping we can begin to speak out about this form of illness and look the demon in the eye without shame or fear. We can voice it, and we can sing of the light. There is a recovery.

Carolyn Jess-Cooke

                                                           


first published in Catharsis


RESOURCES FOR MENTAL HEALTH:

WHO Mental Health

Dealing with depression

Depression support groups

What is mindfulness?

Guided meditation

Mental Health Foundation

Apps for mindfulness 

 

Rhys Bevan Jones is the artist of the images used in this blog. My warmest thanks to Rhys for allowing me to use them.

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VOICING SHADOW, SINGING LIGHT: 6


‘Voicing Shadow, Singing Light’ is a blog series designed to tear down barriers of silence that perpetuate suffering from mental illness and deadly last resorts. In August I put a call out on Facebook and Twitter requesting poems that articulate some aspect of mental illness – whether as sufferer, survivor, carer or friend. The response has been overwhelming – hundreds of poems flooded into my inbox over a short period, compelling me to rethink my original plan of a two-part blog series into something larger. Over the next week I will post one blog each day featuring some of the finest poems I have ever read about mental illness. I hope you enjoy them, and pass them on as you see fit. At the bottom of each post is a number of links to the Mental Health Foundation and the World Health Organization’s online resources for Mental Health. Should you wish to begin speaking out right now, there is an opportunity to leave your own responses in the comments box below.

 


 

 

STEPHANIE ARSOSKA

https://soundcloud.com/stephanie-arsoska/mr-anxiety

 

 

RESOURCES FOR MENTAL HEALTH:

WHO Mental Health

Dealing with depression

Depression support groups

What is mindfulness?

Guided meditation

Mental Health Foundation

Apps for mindfulness 

 

Rhys Bevan Jones is the artist of the images used in this blog. Many thanks to Rhys for allowing me to use them.

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VOICING SHADOW, SINGING LIGHT: 5

‘Voicing Shadow, Singing Light’ is a blog series designed to tear down barriers of silence that perpetuate suffering from mental illness and deadly last resorts. In August I put a call out on Facebook and Twitter requesting poems that articulate some aspect of mental illness – whether as sufferer, survivor, carer or friend. The response has been overwhelming – hundreds of poems flooded into my inbox over a short period, compelling me to rethink my original plan of a two-part blog series into something larger. Over the next week I will post one blog each day featuring some of the finest poems I have ever read about mental illness. I hope you enjoy them, and pass them on as you see fit. At the bottom of each post is a number of links to the Mental Health Foundation and the World Health Organization’s online resources for Mental Health. Should you wish to begin speaking out right now, there is an opportunity to leave your own responses in the comments box below.

 

Part 4 of Voicing Shadow, Singing Light touched upon the impact of mental illness on those not actually suffering from it – the friends and family of sufferers who are affected in different ways. Part 5 asks, again, what does it feel like? How to begin to confront the challenges of mental illness, and to describe it to those around us? And how do we cope when those we love are afflicted with depression, dementia, anorexia, or anxiety? How do we begin to reach out?

 


                    

 

 

 

                             

 

 




STEPHANIE ARSOSKA

https://soundcloud.com/stephanie-arsoska/mr-anxiety

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