Isabel Galleymore is the new Charles Causley Poet in Residence, and will take up the post for three months commencing in January 2016 and will be based at the poet Charles Causley’s former home in Launceston.

Isabel Galleymore is an exciting and gifted young poet whose pamphlet Dazzle Ship has been receiving excellent reviews. She held a Hawthornden Fellowship in 2012 and her poems have appeared widely in key poetry magazines such as Poetry Review, Poetry London and The Rialto.

We caught up with Isabel recently to ask her about the residency, her poetry and poetry in general.

“I’m absolutely thrilled about my appointment as the next Causley Poet in Residence,” she says. “It’s an incredible privilege to be given time and space with which to write and to have the opportunity to engage others with poetry.”

The residency’s Cornish locale was also a pull for Isobel. “The post also greatly appealed to me because of its location in Launceston. Having spent the last three years in Exeter, I’ve written a lot about Devon and Cornwall and I’m fascinated with how writers, such as Causley have explored these landscapes. I’m excited to pursue this and to work with communities who have different views on place.”

The Causley Residency has been a productive writing opportunity for both previous residents, Kathryn Simmonds and Alyson Hallett, and Isabel is hoping the residency will offer her similar space to write. “I’m looking forward to continuing work on my first full collection of poems,” she says. “The collection explores the parallels between human relationships and creaturely relationships in the environment in the light of environmental change. I think there is something very productively peculiar about approaching issues affecting the environment without leaving the domestic sphere we inhabit day to day. In particular, I hope to use the residency to start work on a new sequence of sonnets that manipulate the form to engage with issues surrounding climate change.”

Her current collection, Dazzle Ship, is an extraordinarily alive and striking body of poems. “It focuses upon creatures as diverse as barnacles, sweet peas and robins,” she says. “The poems explore the dependent relationships in which these creatures are involved that could be, say, parasitic or symbiotic and the effect of this dependency. This led me to consider relationships in human terms and relationships in language. The title of the collection comes from First World War camouflage – ‘dazzle camouflage’ – that aimed to disorientate the opponent. In writing these poems, I couldn’t help thinking of the correspondences such dazzle camouflage might have with metaphor. I’ve been really pleased to see the pamphlet well-reviewed.”

Isabel is also the co-editor of online place-based writing magazine, The Clearing. “I co-edit with three other editors,” says Isabel. “We set it up two years ago and have been publishing work every fortnight since. The magazine features both emerging and established writers – some examples of the latter being Tim Dee and Philip Gross. It’s always an interesting experience to see how writers approach place similarly, where a certain tradition is at work, and where writers completely diverge. Additionally, in making editorial decisions and giving feedback to writers, it’s been an excellent way of practicing a critical eye for my own writing. We are always open to receiving new writing so please do check out the website if wanting to submit.”

Isabel's advice to beginning poets

The first thing I would suggest is to find another writer, a group of writers or even two groups of writers if possible – with which to share your work. There is, in my opinion, nothing more valuable than having someone give constructive criticism on your work and the more feedback you can get the better. I’d also suggest disregarding the traditional emphasis upon finding your poetic voice. If poets found one voice and committed to it for the rest of their poetic careers then it’s hard to say whether we’d still find their writing invigorating. Experiment and find several voices to choose from. Lastly, I’d advise new writers to walk. Wordsworth claimed that walking helped him write and this has recently been supported by scientific research!

Isabel's Favourite Poets

I better keep my answer to contemporary poets otherwise I’ll spend all day answering this one. Long-standing favourites of mine are Alice Oswald and Jen Hadfield for the way they approach the natural world. Oswald’s work has a sense of sound that is nothing I’ve ever come across before and I feel very sympathetic to Hadfield’s refreshingly playful take on her Shetland landscape. In terms of poets across the Atlantic, I read a lot of Jane Hirschfield for her meditative poetics. I feel that Hirschfield does what I described earlier in terms of voice: her work presents a series of different voices all of which can be identified as Hirschfield’s. Kay Ryan is also a favourite of mine – her economy of language always surprises me for its generosity of rhythm and rhyme.

Isabel Galleymore | Worple Press