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Joanne Clement: My inspiration for the Inspiring Futures Poetry Anthology

Posted by. Leeds Trinity University
Posted on 04 May 2017

blogs, blogs:Alumni

​​​In March 2017, a poetry anthology entitled 'Inspiring Futures' was launched to commemorate Leeds Trinity University's 50th Anniversary, featuring contributions from University staff, students and alumni.

Alumna Joanne Clement, who graduated in 2007 with a First Class BA Hons in English, shares the inspiration behind her poem, Wonderful Fish.

Being a poet of the archive, it is fitting I wrote 'Wonderful Fish' after my most recent visit to The Bowes Museum in Teesdale. Each day at 2 o'clock their swan – a silver automaton made in 1773 – comes to life. Once the mechanism is wound up, audiences are treated to the trickling sounds of a music box and the heads of little fish begin to bob from a now gently flowing stream. Turning its lithe neck, the swan begins to preen itself, spots a fish and then scoops it up. The fish tries to wriggle free but is swallowed whole. Blink and you'll miss it, the performance lasts just forty seconds.

During my visit, I discovered the fish isn't picked up by the swan at all. Rather, for all these years, it has been hidden inside the roof of its beak. Only with the automaton's clever gears and glass rods does it appear to be caught. Making such discoveries about art drives my creative-practice research and so I evidenced this finding in my poem. I then began to meditate upon the image of the 'silver fish' exploring what is, for me, as a working-class woman with Romani Gypsy roots, the life-changing and empowering experience of writing and thinking creatively.

To celebrate the university's fiftieth year, I wanted to share a poem which spoke to the English department's commitment to welcome, galvanize and prepare its students. As one of those students, now an award-winning poet and an AHRC-funded PhD researcher based in Newcastle, I was delighted to be included in the Inspiring Futures anthology. It is a diverse and vibrant compilation of poems by Leeds Trinity staff and students, past and present. Need some inspiration? Look no further than this book.

Read Joanne's poem and others from the collection in our Inspiring Futures anthology which can be purchased for £7.99 through Indigo Dreams Publishing.