My latest collection draws upon my experience of the physical and mental breakdown that I suffered three and half years ago to explore what C G Jung called the “night sea journey”. The title poem tells of my visit to the accident and emergency department of Sheffield’s Northern General Hospital, suffering from palpitations, as being part of my own night sea journey. In this book I have set up a creative dialogue between my experiences and the stories of mythology and also with other figures who have navigated their own dark ocean passages.
Beginning with poems that come from before my breakdown that celebrate the everyday routines of holidays, marriages and anniversaries, and my sense of coming of age as a poet. These finally culminate in a funeral poem for a friend’s wife, written at the point when my own night sea journey began in earnest.
From there I launch into a series of poems charting my entry into darkness and the jaws of physical and mental breakdown, poems that come from the belly of the beast. There is also a short fairy tale telling the story of an encounter with a darker part of myself. These lead into poems of recuperation and recovery, poems that draw on such themes as how to befriend and walk with anxiety and depression.
Two cycles of poems follow. One reflects on Francis of Assisi, the other on the artist Vincent Van Gogh. Both men had profound night sea journeys, where the writer enters into a dialogue with these challenging phases in their lives.
The final section is an accommodation with life after breakdown, the poetry of continuation as life reshapes itself. This last section is imbued with a sense of cautious hope.