Meet the tutors: Joanna Ezekiel

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We went to York to interview Joanna Ezekiel, Creative Writing tutor (and former OCA student) in her home in York. Here we see her surrounded by the tools of her trade – a table in a window, a notebook and pencil, and a mug of tea. She talks us through the creative process of writing from inspiration to final draft and the various stages in between, and reads a selection of her poems.

Joanna’s own blog is here:

Here is one of the moving poems Joanna reads out in the video:

The Mermaids of Atlantis Speak

Our father Neptune banged his stave three times:
the notes his throat made, long as ropes,
pulled the city under – if we’d refused,
we’d have been sent to try our luck on land.

By day, we squirm our emerald tails past
scattered bones and tumbled cooking pots.
The eyes of skulls are plankton caves.
With every hour, the pillars weep more dust.

We won’t stay here by night. We know of sharks
that trail a stench we’re scared to name.
The city swarms with echoes. Far beyond,
neon jellyfish pulse upward, searching.

Joanna Ezekiel
published in collection, Safe Passage, 2007, White Leaf Press,
ISBN 978-0-9551932-1-7;
first published in Reactions 3: New Poetry, 2002, ed. Esther Morgan,
Pen&Inc, ISBN 1-902913-16-7

Also published on Medium.

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9 comments for “Meet the tutors: Joanna Ezekiel

  1. 11 April 2013 at 5:59 pm

    Lovely poems, Joanna. Great to be teaching and working on poetry alongside you; and to hear how memory, experience and reading all feed in to your writing.

  2. PhilGoddard
    11 April 2013 at 9:44 pm

    Great video and love the use of the word compulsions as an explanation. Very true about not waiting for inspiration and the idea of collecting, searching and free writing. Lovely poems – especially Wentworth Street – vivid.

  3. 12 April 2013 at 11:20 am

    I love these ‘meet the tutor’ posts and videos, it gives an insight into the thought processes and narratives of those that will be looking at our work. Is there a smidgen of an idea that we thereafter angle our work to suit them I wonder?

    I thought Joanna’s words of ‘…refining, developing and trying different things…’ could equally apply to the other arts, these very useful ideas, and simple to remember. I also liked that she has the ‘compulsion’ to write rather than just an idea. I am full of compulsions to begin a work, even though I am working with visual sources on a Textiles course.

    I also admired that she can revisit a work at a later date and compare it to something created earlier.

    Thank you Joanna for reading out your poems, the audio aspect was lovely, something I have never been confident at.

  4. Joanna Ezekiel
    12 April 2013 at 4:00 pm

    Thank you, Liz, it is always a pleasure discussing poetry with you.

  5. Joanna Ezekiel
    12 April 2013 at 4:18 pm

    Thank you, Phil and Diana. Yes, writing is a compulsion for me, though I can go for quite a while without feeling compelled; this is where writing regularly, rain or shine, can help. But I know that the East End of London, as a setting, has often turned up in my writing, even when I haven’t been aware of this happening initially. This is also what I was referring to in my discussion of compulsions. Perhaps the more work you do, the more you realise how often a certain theme/idea/ setting/ character/or image in writing – or perhaps a colour/design/ contrast, in Textiles? – finds its way into your creative work somehow.

  6. Olivia Irvine
    22 April 2013 at 9:32 am

    I agree with all of the above. As a painter, I find there is a definite compulsion that feels like a wordless urge. It is almost a physical thing- I have to be moving a pencil or brush across a surface. Once started, it becomes less about the physical and more about the metaphysical. Things arrange and rearrange themselves, suggesting other things, other paintings from my past. Often ideas and notions lie dormant for years and surface suddenly, giving me quite a shock.

  7. Olivia Irvine
    22 April 2013 at 9:33 am

    Sorry, computer got stuck there. I also enjoyed the poems, especially the second one about the street that changed its name. It had some lovely imagery and flowed really well.

  8. Joanna Ezekiel
    26 April 2013 at 4:31 pm

    I like your description of working on a painting, Olivia -‘Things arrange and rearrange themselves, suggesting other things, other paintings from my past’. This makes me think that if we keep going with our creative work for long enough, ideas, subjects, forms, and images are bound to recur, but can be transformed creatively – consciously or subconsciously – rather than simply repeated. Glad you enjoyed the poems.

  9. Sharon
    1 May 2013 at 2:43 pm

    What a lovely insight into your inspirations Joanna.

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