Saboteur Spotlight: Best Poetry Pamphlet 2021, The Weight of Snow by Pauline Rowe

Congratulations on your recent win at the Saboteur Awards Festival 2021! How did you feel when you found out that you’d been shortlisted this year?

I was pleased and a little surprised as this is my second year on the shortlist.

Do you feel the pandemic has impacted your work at all; made it harder, or perhaps even easier, to reach people and to promote what you’re doing?

Until December 2020 I worked as Poet-in-Residence with a large mental health trust so adapted to provide on-line creative workshops. I have put together a full poetry collection but haven’t got a publisher for the collection yet: it’s called ‘A Gallery of Vanishings’. I’ve also written another small pamphlet collection

Are you working on anything at the moment that you might be able to tell us a little about?

I’m very excited about being the writer on a new project with Open Eye Gallery and the Wirral Hospital school (Joseph Paxton Centre) that has just received a Max Literacy award. This will take up much of my time and energy throughout the summer. I’ll be working with young people to encourage writing and expressive engagement with a specially designed on-site photography exhibition. Further details can be found through NAWE.

I am hoping to write a stage play based on my friend Jim Bostock who died of cancer in 2019.  In his last year a friend and I worked with him to produce his poetry pamphlet ‘Yarragh’. So the play will focus on his life through his poems, his recovery from alcoholism, his amazing courage in the face of death. He was a clever working class lad, Jim.  I’m not a dramatist so this will be a huge challenge for me. I have a novella I’m working on as well and some initial poems that I’m calling ‘Dismantled Husband.’

Of course, one of the real shortfalls of not being able to run a live awards show is that people miss out on the opportunity to share an acceptance speech. While you’ve got the platform to, is there anything you’d like to share with readers about your win?

My pamphlet ‘The Weight of Snow’ is a collection of elegies and a memorial for people I never knew but affected my life in profound ways. It tells the story of a girl’s death in Widnes in 1954. She was mother’s sister, Joan. Killed at the age of 10 by a lorry on a rainy January day. The poems consider grief and motherhood and working class childhood experience. I had to write these poems as a memorial and acknowledgement. That Joan Valerie Attwood lived. That she was someone. That she was loved. It seems an important witnessing even though I didn’t know her except through my mother’s sorrows. I still inherited some of the grief of family tragedy, as all younger generations do.

You can keep in touch with Pauline’s upcoming releases, and her future writing endeavours, by following her on Twitter: @paulinerowe_. More information can also be found on Pauline’s website. For now, though, another hearty congratulations to Pauline for winning the award for Best Poetry Pamphlet 2021!

Our next spotlight feature will be released on Wednesday, June 16th, so stay tuned for that next update.