Hi, I’m Penny Lowery. I live in mid-Devon with my partner, Eileen – who is an artist – and our dog.
I’ve written poetry since childhood, although none of the very early stuff is still extant… this may be just as well, as I also wrote long rambling attempts at novels as a teenager which I’m sure had zero literary merit! I grew up in Essex, in a seaside town I could not wait to escape from. My first job after leaving school was as a stage manager in three-weekly rep theatre, which I loved – I had dropped out of university, even though I was doing a drama degree. Working in the professional theatre felt very different, although I left it before I was thirty (because of some health problems) and retrained as an acupuncturist and counsellor, which is still my job.
My main education in writing poetry was as part of a Critical Theory MA at Exeter university, which I did as a mature student. This was a brilliant opportunity: I studied with Andy Brown who gave me some insights into different forms and also allowed me to be playful with poetry for the first time. I went on to do a PhD in Age and Gender Theory, during which time I didn’t write much poetry but I did of necessity read very widely in the areas of age theory and novels/poetry by older writers. I later did some short poetry courses with the OU.
How do you approach writing haiku?
I really enjoy being given a prompt (or several) every day – they serve as a reminder of something that’s happened, or as inspiration, or just a word to bounce off. If something occurs to me I write it quite fast and then wait to see what it will turn into. If nothing springs to mind I leave it, and some days ideas will occur later; on others I don’t write anything at all, especially now as I’m starting to see clients again. I love that we use images so widely on the TDH page, but it’s also quite good sometimes just to rely on the words.
What do you enjoy about being a member of The Daily Haiku group?
Being part of TDH has been a fantastic support in lockdown. I’ve had to stop work four times in the past fifteen months, the first time because my mother died and I had to clear her house (she was a lifelong hoarder) and sell it. I can’t remember exactly when in 2020 I discovered TDH and joined it, but I’m aware that the haiku I’ve written have changed and developed over these months – in part because of reading other people’s work and also the excellent articles linked to the page.
Do you have any comments on the wellbeing aspect of being part of a creative writing group?
I have appreciated the compassionate and supportive attitude of other group members more than I can say. Much of the poetry – including haiku – I’ve written this year has inevitably been about loss. I have always felt quite safe posting them here, and often received kind and thoughtful feedback that has brought tears to my eyes. I have also made friends all over the world – something I was not expecting when I joined!
My favourites of the haiku I’ve written in this past year are these two:
Overall I have found belonging to TDH a fantastic experience, one which has supported my growth both personally and as a poet. Huge thanks are due to Amanda and the whole group – all 5000 of us!