Interview with Rosie Sandler

Following the release of our anthology,?We Run Through The Dark Together, we?decided to interview a handful of its featured writers in order to get to know them and their?work better. In this interview, we speak to Rosie Sandler, author?of Troublesome Fauna, about her anxiety disorder, her love of poetry and how it was she discovered she wanted to be a poet.

How does poetry help you to navigate the minefield of anxiety?

Hmm. Poetry forces me to confront my fears and anxiety. I love the way it also gives me a platform from which to share them – allowing others, in turn, the freedom to open up about their own mental health struggles. I have this theory that, if you are a writer – and if you are naturally quite open and outgoing – then it’s your duty to be honest about your own problems so that others can follow more easily. My own anxiety manifests itself as a fear of being trapped somewhere (where I can’t get to a toilet). This might be a theatre or cinema auditorium, a bus or car in a traffic jam, for example. I am very lucky, in that antidepressants have really minimised this problem. (Curiously, I have always enjoyed standing up in front of an audience.) I am aware, though, that the toilet disorder is a symptom, rather than the cause, of my anxiety.

Sometimes, crowning a poem with its title can be more challenging than writing the poem itself. Would you agree? How did you come to name Troublesome Fauna?

Yes – often I can’t find a title for a poem. I am a member of a critiquing group called ‘Adamantine’, and sometimes I have to ask the other members to help. (Luckily, they are great at this.) Troublesome Fauna?came quite naturally as a title, though – I needed a phrase that would link the two animal themes in the poem.

What does poetry express for you that words alone cannot?

Poetry, for me, is about boiling everything down to its bare essence. I find it especially useful for expressing the darker side of life (without resorting to melodrama). As my sister, Helen, once said: “Even your lighter poems are pretty dark.” Poetry is also about sharing: I lead creative writing workshops, including, currently, poetry workshops at Mencap (a UK charity for people with a learning disability) in Chelmsford, Essex – and I love watching others engage with poems, and seeing how much fun and excitement they get from a particularly interesting or funny poem.

How did you discover that you wanted to write poetry?

My sister and mum both write poems. I was the youngest member of the family, so I just grew up in that environment. However, my mum and sister seemed much better at it, so I abandoned poetry writing for many years. I only started writing it seriously again around 10 years ago (I’m 47), after my best friend Clare (a novel writer) encouraged me – she’d seen a couple of poems I’d written in haste, and felt they deserved more attention. These days, I tend to get a phrase or an image stuck in my head, and I know I won’t get any peace until it’s down on the page.

Recommended reading?

My all-time favourite poem is Robin Robertson’s wonderful folk piece, At Roane Head – creepy, with brilliant imagery and a fantastic ending. I also loved the stories of Angela Carter, which I read many years ago. Some of my favourite poems are by people I know – Alex Toms and Holly Beane, who I know from writing groups in Essex. Both write poems that are filled with amazing imagery. I thought Rebecca Goss’ book, Her Birth, was heartbreaking, and Carolyn Jess Cooke’s Boom!?is very powerful – both collections deal with the poets’ experiences of motherhood. I could go on…

Image credit:?Tess Gardener at New Vintage Portraits

Inside The Bell Jar

Inside The Bell Jar

Inside The Bell Jar is a literary journal dedicated to providing a raw and honest insight into the complexity of mental illness. We hope that you enjoy reading our stories and poems, and that you might consider submitting.
Inside The Bell Jar