Julia Deakin

Julia Deakin was born in Nuneaton and worked her way north via the Potteries,
Manchester and York to Huddersfield where she began writing poems - under slight duress
(but Peter Sansom's guidance) on a poetry MA taken to extend her reading and literary
theory. Previously published as a feature writer and reviewer, her poems soon found popular
and critical acclaim. One was read at Lynda Bellingham's funeral and (re-)published in
several online newspapers. Two have featured on Poetry Please and many others won
'Crafted, tender poems, written with passion and purpose,' said Simon Armitage of her first
collection, Without a Dog (Graft, 2008). Anne Stevenson 'read it straight through at a single
sitting' enjoying its 'mature wit and wisdom'. 'Real linguistic inventiveness' said Ian McMillan.
'Bold, irreverent and wickedly funny,' said Alison Brackenbury of her Poetry Business
Competition winner, The Half-Mile-High-Club.
Michael Symmons Roberts describes her second book, Eleven Wonders (Graft 2012) as
'powerful, assured, elegant. Her formal skill and inventiveness make this a rich and eclectic
collection. Those who, like me, have admired her individual poems in the past, will be struck
by their cumulative strength and range, and this book deserves to win her many new
Her third full collection, Sleepless (Valley Press, 2018), is commended by Gillian Clarke.
'Poets lose sleep over everything,' says Julia, 'from climate change to commas.'
In 2013 she was one of four poets to walk the 47-mile Stanza Stones trail, learning both the
trail and the poems backwards, to conduct 'walkshops' around Simon Armitage's engraved
poems. A compelling reader of her own and others' work, she has performed more than once
with John Hegley, and between ice skating, bird-watching, DIY and family cares, chips away
at her next poem.
An experienced secondary and university teacher, Julia enjoys giving workshops.
She is the editor of Pennine Platform magazine.



Winner of the 2007/08 International Book & Pamphlet Competition


'Sharp and knowing, these poems dance before the reader in their exuberance and sudden dark. They are bold, irreverent and wickedly funny.' - Alison Brackenbury on Julia's collection, The Half-Mile-High-Club


'Crafted, tender poems, written with passion and purpose,' - Simon Armitage on Julia's first collection, Without a Dog (Graft, 2008)


'Read it straight through at a single sitting, enjoying its mature wit and wisdom' - Anne Stevenson 


'Real linguistic inventiveness' - Ian McMillan.


‘Powerful, assured, elegant. Her formal skill and inventiveness make this a rich and eclectic collection. Those who, like me, have admired her individual poems in the past, will be struck by their cumulative strength and range, and this book deserves to win her many new readers.’ - Michael Symmons Roberts on her second book, Eleven Wonders (Graft, 2012).


'By now, Julia's train had arrived, and here she was, cutting a slighter figure, with the look of someone on a railway platform whose mind might be on other things. But that slightly other-worldly demeanour only momentarily concealed a poet of great power: sharp, unafraid, observational, unsentimental, truthful. To have two such contrasting sets was exhilarating, and the enforced switch of running order just heightened the stark brilliance of Julia's readings. She pulled no punches, opening with a heartbreaking poem, When I Was Six, inspired by a photograph of a young Chinese girl from the first decade of the last century. The girl was a victim of foot-binding, a custom in which the ankles and feet of female children were mutilated in order to give them dainty feet, thought to be more attractive to men. It was performed
as an angry dialogue between the girl, her father and family members and left this audience lost for words. A stunning opening. Most poets might have opted for some leavening here, not so the redoubtable Julia Deakin. Having cranked up her audience, she hit home with, I Would Like To Forget, a harrowing poem about child sexual abuse (I can't bring myself to use that softening word, "paedophilia"). This was not your average poetry reading, guys and gals (well, mainly gals in this case), but you get the drift. These two wince-inducing poems alone were worth the price of admission. Utterly breathtaking. Julia's themes softened a little after that, and we were grateful for the remaining half dozen poems, including her commentary, in Without A Dog, on how hard it is to simply go out for a walk alone without attracting suspicion or fear. There were words about Valentines, Baudelaire and prostitutes, spring and greenhouses, and Dreams Of A Doormat, in honour of a much-loved mother-in-law. But it is the opening poems that will live longest in the memory.' - David Nicholson


'[...] it's easy to see why Julia Deakin is a prizewinner -- her poems are witty and engaging, capturing recognisable moments with empathy and insight. She has a wide repertoire of styles, although her distinctive voice cones through in all the poems. Often fast paced and rhythmic, gathering momentum and building up to a snappy ending, many are particularly good read aloud. There are also slower, more thoughtful poems, several on watery themes -- Christmas is coming, Prayer, After Rothko and occassional use of a given form such as Saturday Ghazal. There are historical narratives and prose poems. Generally rooted in the everyday, she explores the edges, with an occasional desire to be transported up above the mundane, as in Coasting, where 

Sometimes momentarily you're back there doing Geography,
the rows of pine tables warm, when
So easy it seemed, to sail
above the fog to lands of clarity,
neat blue boundaries
which sloped off easily
to clear blue seas

The final poem of the collection, You, tackles the interplay between performer and audience or poet and listener/reader: who wished the bar did Lem-sip, whose wine-box wine has gone lukewarm and who will soon be fantasising about a bowl of cornflakes. It's a brilliant ending to an immensely enjoyable collection.' - Sally Baker, The North 51 


How amazing it must be to be a raven, off-duty from policing fields
to loop the loop and skywrite hearts for your inamorata, kids again
and high as kites on thermals of adrenaline, breakdancing in the clouds,
the world below behind above thrown off in dead feint after dead feint
to impress the mate. Watch me, watch me die for how you make me feel
alive. How weedy by comparison our overtures: I’ll cook, I’ll drive,
I’ll text you, have some flowers. One in a thousand in a heady hour
hanging a lipstick banner from a first floor window.

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